Canada expands welcome mat for those looking to exit SAR

Top News | 10 Jun 2021

Sophie Hui

The Canadian government has opened two new paths to permanent residency for Hongkongers, covering recent graduates and workers already in the country.

Eligible applicants must have valid temporary resident status and be in Canada when they apply under one of the two ways and when permanent residency is granted.

They must also hold a valid HKSAR passport or a British National (Overseas) passport.

One of the routes is for applicants who have completed post-secondary education in Canada within the previous three years and who hold a degree or a diploma from a program that lasted at least two years.

They could also have a graduate or post-graduate diploma or certificate from a program of at least 12 months. But they must have held a post-secondary degree or diploma no longer than five years before starting the program.

Applicants must also have done at least 50 percent of a post-secondary program in Canada or online.

Another route would be working in Canada for at least 12 months in a full-time job or at least 1,560 hours of part-time work over the previous three years.

And they must have completed post-secondary education within the previous five years.

The two new routes took effect on June 1 and the intention is to see them run until August 31, 2026. To be granted permanent residency, applicants must intend to live in a Canadian province or territory other than Quebec, where an immigration program has been suspended.

The Canadian government revealed initiatives last November to help Hongkongers head to the country, with the first stream of a new three-year work permit opened for applications in February.

The stream allows Hong Kong graduates who have completed post-secondary studies within the previous five years to apply for residency more quickly.

Up to June 2 it had received 3,481 applications.

The Canadian government said it is "deeply concerned" about the national security law in Hong Kong and the "deteriorating human rights situation," so the country "continues to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Hong Kong" at a difficult time.

Marco Mendicino, Canada's minister for immigration, refugees and citizenship, said: "With young Hongkongers casting their eyes abroad we want them to choose Canada.

"Our Hong Kong immigration pathway is a historic initiative, intended to attract talented applicants who will drive our economy forward."

Benny Cheung Ka-hei, director of Goldmax Immigration Consulting, said his firm yesterday received a number of inquiries about the two new routes.

Comparing the new BNO visa scheme launched by the United Kingdom government on January 31 and the new Canadian routes, Cheung said the new paths to Canada target young people to a greater extent while the one to Britain can attract people from more levels.

"Many countries are facing the problem of an aging population," Cheung added. "Moreover, manpower resources will be essential for economic recovery after the pandemic."

Talking of Hongkongers who are "young, enthusiastic and well-educated with an international perspective," Cheung remarked that such people would be good for whichever country where they settle.

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