If you’d like to immigrate from Hong Kong to Canada, there are many options available. In addition to popular, globally-available pathways like International Experience Canada (IEC) and Express Entry, Canada is also creating a series of new immigration pathways specifically for Hong Kong residents. These new pathways are launching throughout 2021.
This is your guide to the best Canadian immigration options for Hong Kong residents.
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. 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 3 years prior to applying. Candidates also must have graduated within the 5 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 2 years, or
- a degree, or
- a graduate or post-graduate diploma of certificate for a program of at least 1 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 3 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 2 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 1 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.
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 system in place.
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.
The 2021 IEC season is open as of March 1 for many countries. New COVID-19 measures have been introduced. Full details in our Working Holiday Newshub.