The open work permit is the first of the new immigration measures becoming available to Hongkongers this year.
Hong Kong residents will be able to apply for a new Canadian open work permit starting February 8.
The new three-year work permits will allow Hongkongers to gain work experience in Canada. They can then use that experience toward an immigration application. Canada’s popular Express Entry system highly values candidates with Canadian work experience.
In order to be eligible for the open work permit, Hongkongers must have graduated with a Canadian post-secondary diploma or degree within the last five years, or hold an equivalent foreign credential. Post-secondary diplomas need to be from programs of at least two years in duration, in order to be eligible.
Visitor visa holders, students, and temporary workers who are currently in Canada can apply for the new open work permit online. Those who are applying from abroad are subject to Canada’s coronavirus safety measures, including travel restrictions, mandatory quarantine, and testing.
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Hongkongers who are outside Canada will need to have a job offer or meet another travel exemption, and comply with all public health requirements in order to enter the country. More details will be available on the government website when the program launches, according to an IRCC media release.
In addition to the open work permits, Canada is working on two new permanent immigration pathways specifically for Hong Kong residents. One will be for those who have at least one year of Canadian work experience, and who meet the language and education criteria. The other will allow international students from Hong Kong to apply directly for permanent residence after graduating from a Canadian post-secondary. These new programs will be launched later this year.
The new immigration measures apply to those who hold a Hong Kong special administrative region (SAR) or British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) passport.
Hong Kong residents are now also exempt from the 12-month bar on pre-removal risk assessments, which means that some previously ineligible individuals may get an new assessment to determine whether they can stay in Canada.
Those who have fled to another country, and are at risk of persecution, may also be eligible under Canada’s existing resettlement programs, such as the Private Sponsorship of Refugees program or the Government-Assisted Refugees Program.
Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino had announced these measures in November, as part of an effort to support Hongkongers who want to immigrate to Canada.
“With flexible open work permits and a fast-track to permanent residency, skilled Hong Kong residents will have a unique opportunity to develop their careers and help accelerate Canada’s economic recovery,” Mendicino said in the release. “This is a landmark immigration initiative that will strengthen our economy and will deepen the ties between Canada and the people of Hong Kong.”