These new measures will strength relations between Hong Kong and Canada and encourage Hong Kong’s youth to settle in Canada
The Canadian government is continuing on the fast track to achieving its goal of creating jobs, bolstering the economy, and welcoming newcomers. On Thursday, November 12, 2020, the Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced a new plan that will attract young people and students from Hong Kong, China to Canada by allowing them to have an open work permit and enabling them to possibly obtain permanent residency.
This program is part of the 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan and will hopefully persuade young people with essential work experience and recent Hong Kong graduates to choose Canada as their place of residence.
On June 30, 2020, the Chinese government imposed a national security law in Hong Kong and the Government of Canada promised to maintain the many connections between Canada and Hong Kong. These new immigration measures are part of the commitment Canada has made to Hong Kong and its residents in this time of need.
Marco Mendicino also reassured residents in Hong Kong and Canadian visitors that they can return to Canada whenever they wish and any documents they require during the transition will be expedited to make the process quicker.
Although all travellers to Canada must self-isolate for 14 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadians permanently residing in Hong Kong and the family members of Canadians in Hong Kong are allowed to travel to Canada under the current exemptions to travel restrictions.
The immigration minister also announced changes to Canada’s pre-removal risk assesments for Hong Kong and an enticing opportunity that will welcome youth and students from Hong Kong with open arms.
Adjustments to the Pre-Removal Risk Assessment for Hong Kong
A pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA) is a written application that explains why the applicant is concerned for their safety upon returning to their home country.
The PRRA is used to make sure you’re not being removed to a country where:
- you would be in danger of torture
- you would be at risk of persecution
- there would be a risk to your life or of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment
Normally, if someone’s refugee claim or previous application for a PRRA was abandoned, rejected, or withdrawn, they are not allowed to apply for a PRRA for at least 12 months.
Now, Individuals from Hong Kong may be eligible to apply for a PRRA before the 12 month cap if they received a final negative decision from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada or the Federal Court, or a final PRRA decision from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on or between November 13, 2019 and November 12, 2020.
Unfortunately, the worsening conditions in Hong Kong could put residents in a concerning situation,and in some cases this may warrant an additional assessment. Due to the unfortunate circumstances in Hong Kong, some residents will need to be exempt from the 12-month limit on applying for a PRRA. Eligibility will depend on when they received a decision on their immigration claim.
Residents from Hong Kong who receive a final negative decision after November 12, 2020, are not eligible to apply for a PRRA for 1 year. Any recent changes in the country’s conditions would have been recognized when the immigration claim was reviewed or during the PRRA application process.
Keep in mind, just because you are eligible to apply for a PRRA, this doesn’t mean your request will be approved. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada handles these requests on a case-by-case basis. In addition, everyone who applies for a PRRA is responsible for letting the IRCC know of any changes to their application immediately.
A New Measure That Supports Hong Kong Youth and Students to Come to Canada
Canada is making changes and increasing the promotion of its current programs to support the dreams of Hong Kong residents who wish to work, study, or settle in Canada. These changes will occur once the travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic are resolved.
According to the Goverment of Canada’s Newsroom, some of these new measures will include:
- Canada will expedite the processing of permits for young people from Hong Kong who are eligible and want to come to Canada to work or study. We have already seen an increase in study permit applications in the first half of 2020 compared to 2019, and the government will continue to promote this opportunity.
- In addition to the existing work and study options for Hong Kong youth, a new work permit initiative specific to Hong Kong youth will provide open work permits of up to 3 years in duration, with eligibility criteria centred on post-secondary education in Canada or abroad completed in the last 5 years. Eligible spouses or common-law partners, as well as dependent children, can also apply for a study or work permit, as appropriate. This initiative is expected to launch soon.
- For those who come here to either study or work, 2 new pathways to permanent residence are being created, which will be available in 2021:
- The first will target former Hong Kong residents who have gained a minimum of 1 year of authorized work experience in Canada and meet other criteria such as minimum language and education levels.
- The second pathway will be for those who have graduated from a post-secondary institution in Canada. These individuals can then apply directly for permanent residence.
- For both these pathways, principal applicants will also be able to include in-Canada spouses, partners, and dependent children in their application.
- Canada will benefit from these new measures, which will ensure these former Hong Kong residents have the skills and education to integrate well and contribute to our economy.
These are the additional measures the immigration minister announced:
- On a temporary basis, the Canadian government will be waiving application processing fees for Hong Kong residents in Canada who apply to renew their status and extend their stay.
- IRCC is increasing promotional and recruitment efforts to attract Hong Kong youth to study in Canada and in other program areas, including International Experience Canada. IRCC will resume processing International Experience Canada applications for Hong Kong youth, which has been paused due to COVID-19. Approved International Experience Canada participants can already travel to Canada under the current travel restrictions, provided they have a current and active job offer. Youth-focused programs are important gateways to gaining experience needed to qualify for permanent residence.
- IRCC is also increasing promotion of super visas. Super visas are passes for parents and grandparents that allow for multiple entries to Canada for up to 2 years at a time over a period of up to 10 years.
- As part of business resumption priorities, IRCC has allocated resources to speed up processing of permanent residence applications, including for family sponsorship. This will benefit Hong Kong applicants. Spouses or common-law partners who have applied for permanent residence from within Canada can apply for an open work permit.
A Step Forward for Hong Kong and Canada
When these new changes are implemented, they are sure to strengthen relations between Hong Kong and Canada, while enticing the youth of Hong Kong to come to Canada. This will be sure to boost our economy, create more jobs for Canadians, and assist the residents of Hong Kong who are looking for a change of pace.
Book a consultation
Book a consultation with MKS Citizenship and Immigration Lawyers by completing their simple consultation form, and waiting no more than two business days for MKS to get in touch. Book a consultation today. MKS Citizenship and Immigration Lawyers can provide valuable guidance.