Canada opens 2 new permanent residency pathways for Hong Kong residents

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino says Canada is offering two new paths to permanent residency for Hong Kong residents who work here or are recent graduates already living in the country.

Ottawa concerned by arrests of pro-democracy activists, 'deterioration' of Hong Kong's electoral system

Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong have been targeted by police more frequently since the introduction of a new national security law imposed by Beijing. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino says Canada is offering two new paths to permanent residency for Hong Kong residents who work here or are recent graduates already living in the country.

"With young Hong Kongers casting their eyes abroad," Mendicino said in a media statement, "we want them to choose Canada."

He said Canada's Hong Kong immigration pathway is a historic initiative, intended to attract talented applicants who will drive the country's economy forward — especially as Canada prepares to reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Skilled Hong Kongers will have a unique opportunity to both develop their careers and help accelerate our recovery," he says.

The federal government says it is "deeply concerned" by China's imposition of a national security law and the "deteriorating" human rights situation in Hong Kong, adding Canada stands shoulder to shoulder with the people of Hong Kong.

In June 2020, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China passed the National Security Law for Hong Kong. The law gives China powers to shape life in Hong Kong and criminalizes any act of secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces.

Critics say it infringes on freedom of speech, while China insists it returns stability to Hong Kong. The United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner repeatedly warned offences such as subversion under the National Security Law are "vague and overly broad, facilitating abusive or arbitrary implementation."

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendicino says the new residency opportunites will help Canada attract skilled Hong Kongers looking to leave the city. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

China cracking down on pro-democracy activists

"We call on the authorities to uphold their obligations under the (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), and to refrain from using the National Security Law to suppress the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association," UN human rights office spokesperson Liz Throssell said in January, after more than 50 people were arrested under the new law.

The Canadian government has made statements expressing concerns over the arrests of pro-democracy activists and the "deterioration" of the electoral system in Hong Kong.

Mendicino said adding new pathways to permanent residency for Hong Kong residents will "deepen the strong ties between Canada and the people of Hong Kong."

The government announced initiatives to help Hong Kongers come to Canada in November and the first stream opened for applications in February. The first stream is focused on allowing eligible Hong Kong residents to work in Canada through a three-year open work permit and to apply for permanent residence more quickly.

In order to be eligible for the new permanent residency pathways, applicants must have valid temporary resident status.

They must also meet language, education and work requirements and must be in Canada when submitting their applications and when their permanent residence is granted.

Canada to open two distinct streams for hopeful residents

The first of the new streams is for applicants who have obtained a degree, diploma or graduate credential at a designated post-secondary learning institution in Canada over the last three years. They must have done at least 50 per cent of their program while in Canada.

The second is for applicants who have at least one year of full-time work experience or 1,560 hours of part-time work in Canada in the last three years. Those applicants must hold a degree, diploma or graduate credential obtained from a post-secondary learning institution in or outside Canada in the last five years.

These new pathways are similar to the new pathway to permanent residency for over 90,000 essential temporary workers and international graduates announced in April.

"In terms of people who've already applied for the 'TR to PR' pathway, they can have two applications in at once," Alexander Cohen, press secretary to the immigration minister, said in a media statement. He didn't say which way might be faster.

According to the release, the applicants are still subject to Canada's regular immigration application, screening and admissibility requirements.


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