This concise, comprehensive guide will help you identify how to move to Canada from Hong Kong for your specific circumstances.
Canada is creating new immigration pathways to help Hong Kong residents
In November, 2020, Canada announced plans to introduce 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 to, or return to, Canada. These measures were introduced “in response to the Chinese government’s imposition and implementation of the national security law in Hong Kong on June 30, 2020.”
Three new immigration pathways for Hong Kong youth
The Government of Canada’s plans include three new immigration initiatives specifically designed to facilitate the immigration of Hong Kong youth to Canada.
- Open work permits for recent graduates: This initiative will enable Hong Kong residents, in Canada or abroad, who are recent graduates of post-secondary education programs to apply for an open work permit in Canada. These open work permits will be valid for a period of up to three years. While full details have not yet been released, the proposed work permit sounds similar to Canada’s Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). Normally, Canada’s PGWP requires the completion of education in Canada, but this initiative sounds like it could resemble a PGWP where post-secondary education by Hong Kong residents may have been completed anywhere.
- Pathway to permanent resident status: In 2021, Canada will create a new permanent residence immigration program for in-Canada Hong Kong residence. While exact eligibility criteria have not yet been released, the government has stated that applicants will need to demonstrate minimum English or French language proficiency and have at least one year of Canadian work experience.
- Expedited study permit applications: Canada will expedite the processing of study permit applications made by Hong Kong residents who wish to study in Canada.
Notably, full details about these new immigration programs have not yet been released. More information about eligibility criteria and application procedures are expected in the coming weeks and months.
In addition to these new immigration initiatives for Hong Kong youth, Canada will also be introducing other measures to assist Hong Kong residents. This includes expediting the processing of documents and permanent residence immigration applications for those residing in Hong Kong, waiving certain application fees for in-Canada Hong Kong residents who wish to extend their stay, and increasing promotion of Canada as a work and study destination for Hong Kong youth.
Existing Canadian immigration programs for Hong Kong residents
Although Canada has plans to introduce new immigration pathways for Hong Kong residents, these pathways are not yet in effect. In the meantime, Hong Kong residents can continue to benefit from the existing immigration options available.
One of the biggest advantages that Hong Kong passport holders have over many of their Asian counterparts when it comes to moving to Canada is access to the International Experience Class (IEC) Working Holiday program. However, it’s important to note that this isn’t the only option for moving to Canada from Hong Kong — many Hong Kong passport holders also move to Canada on a study permit or via the Express Entry system. More on those later, but first, IEC.
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.
To prepare for IEC, we recommend using Moving2Canada GO, a free interactive tool we developed specifically to help IEC participants in their journey to Canada.