If you’re thinking of moving to Canada from Hong Kong, you may have a few options. In addition to popular, globally-available pathways like International Experience Canada (IEC) and Express Entry, Canada has also created a series of new immigration pathways specifically for Hong Kong residents.

This is your guide to the best Canadian immigration options for Hong Kong residents.

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Canada’s new immigration pathways to help Hong Kong residents

In 2020, Canada announced plans to introduce three new pathways to help Hong Kong youth immigrate to Canada. The plans also include special immigration measures to assist Hong Kong residents, including Canadians residing in Hong Kong, who wish to immigrate, or return, to Canada. These new pathways, which are all now in effect, are in response to Canada’s concern “about the new National Security Law and the deteriorating human rights situation there.”

There are three new pathways in total to assist those moving to Canada from Hong Kong. The first provides open work permits to Hong Kong residents who have recently completed post-secondary studies. The remaining two provide a pathway to permanent resident status for Hong Kong residents who have previously studied or worked in Canada. Details are below.

Open work permit program for recent graduates

In February, 2021, Canada launched a new open work permit pathway for Hong Kong residents who are recent graduates of post-secondary institutions. This initiative enables Hong Kong residents who are in Canada or abroad to apply for an open work permit in Canada. These open work permits will be valid for a period of up to three years.

In order to be eligible to apply, Hong Kong residents must have completed a post-secondary diploma or degree from a program of at least two years. The credential must have been completed within the five years prior to applying. This credential may have been completed in any country, but if the program was not in Canada, applicants must show that the credential is equivalent to a Canadian diploma or degree.

Hong Kong residents who are currently in Canada as visitors, students, or workers, may apply for the new open work permit online. However, those outside Canada are subject to Canada’s ongoing COVID-19 travel restrictions and are advised to check the latest measures to understand what travel is allowed at this time.

Permanent residence for Hong Kong residents with Canadian work experience

From June 1, 2021, until August 31, 2026, Canada is running a new immigration program enabling Hong Kong residents who have eligible Canadian work experience to apply for Canadian permanent resident status. Eligible applicants may include dependent family members on their application (spouses, common-law partners, and/or dependent children).

In order to be eligible for this program, candidates must have worked in Canada for at least 12 months full-time  (or an equivalent amount in part-time) within the three years prior to applying. Candidates also must have graduated within the five years prior to applying with one of the following types of educational credentials:

  • a diploma (not graduate or post-graduate — these are treated differently, refer below) for a program of at least two years, or
  • a degree, or
  • a graduate or post-graduate diploma of certificate for a program of at least one year.

If the education was not completed in Canada, candidates must obtain an educational credential assessment showing that the foreign credential is equivalent to a credential in Canada at the eligible level.

Additionally, candidates must be physically present in Canada with legal status at the time they apply. For full details and to apply, refer here.

Permanent residence for Hong Kong residents with Canadian education

From June 1, 2021, until August 31, 2026, Canada is running a new immigration program enabling Hong Kong residents who have eligible Canadian education to apply for Canadian permanent resident status. Eligible applicants may include dependent family members on their application (spouses, common-law partners, and/or dependent children).

In order to be eligible for this program, candidates must have graduated from a post-secondary designated learning institution (DLI) in Canada in the three years prior to applying. Candidates must have obtained one of the following types of credentials:

  • a diploma (not graduate or post-graduate) for a program of at least two years, or
    a degree (associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral), or
    a graduate or post-graduate diploma or certificate for a program of at least one year.

As well, at least 50 percent of the educational program must have been completed in Canada (either in person or online). Additionally, candidates must be physically present in Canada with legal status at the time they apply. For full details and to apply, refer here.

Moving to Canada from Hong Kong: IEC Working Holiday Program

Every year, tens of thousands of people from more than 30 countries come to Canada to live and work under the IEC program. Hong Kong is one of the countries that has a Working Holiday agreement with Canada, allowing Hong Kong passport holders to work for any employer in Canada and to switch jobs and location after arrival. However, a range of qualifying criteria does exist. For instance, you must be between 18 and 30 years old to apply, and there is a limited quota.

Hong Kong has been part of the Working Holiday agreement with Canada since 2010. Each year, hundreds of Hong Kong passport holders take advantage and receive approval to move to Canada from Hong Kong. However, interest in the IEC program typically exceeds the total quota for Hong Kong passport holders — so be sure to plan ahead!

The IEC program is a great way to explore this amazing country. It’s also a chance to embark on a successful career in Canada, with opportunities to stay beyond your initial work permit.

Full details in our Working Holiday Newshub.

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Moving2Canada GO: Your personalized guide to IEC!

Our free interactive tool will help you plan for every step of the IEC journey.

Moving to Canada from Hong Kong: Study Permits

Each year, thousands of Hong Kong passport holders come to Canada on a study permit, allowing them to gain higher education in Canada while working and building towards a great career in Canada. If you decide to study in Canada, you will have the opportunity to learn in one of the many prestigious North American institutions and graduate with a diploma, degree, or postgraduate qualification that will prove invaluable as your career progresses. Moreover, there’s a clear pathway in place for graduates to work in Canada after graduating and then stay permanently.

In general, students from Hong Kong fare well in Canada thanks to their typically advanced education levels. If you want to learn more about what studying in Canada is really like, our study section has those insights. In addition, sign up for our International Student Roadmap, a free email-education service that covers everything you need to prepare to study in Canada through daily lessons over the course of one week.

Moving to Canada from Hong Kong: Express Entry

If you want to move to Canada permanently, then Express Entry may be your best option.

Individuals and families from Hong Kong, and all other countries around the world, can immigrate to Canada within just a few months through the Express Entry immigration selection system. Express Entry was introduced in 2015 and has quickly become the main driver of skilled worker immigration to Canada, and one of the most popular immigration systems globally.

Express Entry ranks eligible candidates against one another, and then invites the top-ranked candidates to apply for Canadian permanent resident status. Candidates are ranked against one another based on their age, education, language proficiency, work experience, and other factors.

Hong Kong passport holders may be well positioned to immigrate to Canada through Express Entry because of their high education levels and English language skills – all applicants must show proficiency in either English or French. Language ability is a particularly valuable factor in Express Entry.

To keep up to date with the latest immigration news and updates, register your Moving2Canada account and sign up for our newsletter. This will help us to keep you informed on the best way for you to move to Canada.

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