Easing Of Restrictions Prompts Surge In Canada Immigration From Hong Kong

Easing Of Restrictions Prompts Surge In Canada Immigration From Hong Kong
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Ever since Ottawa axed the educational requirements of the Canadian work experience stream of the permanent residence pathway designed for Hong Kongers, they are applying in record numbers.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) removed the educational requirements on Aug. 15.

Since then, Hong Kong applications under the special permanent residency scheme have jumped by 70 per cent to 805 in August compared to 473 in July, reports the Hong Kong-based daily newspaper.

“In recognizing the extraordinary skills and potential of Hong Kong’s talented individuals, Canada has taken a significant step toward fostering inclusivity and embracing the spirit of opportunity,” said then-Immigration Minister Sean Fraser earlier this year.

“Removing the education requirement under Stream B is a win-win situation: it means that we can welcome more Hong Kongers to Canada who need our support, while simultaneously helping Canadian businesses fill labour gaps with workers who already have work experience here.”

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In the wake of the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong by the Chinese government, Canada created two new pathways to permanent residence on June 1, 2021.

Those two pathways include a Stream A, for in-Canada graduates, and a Stream B for individuals with Canadian work experience.

“Our government recognizes that true talent and valuable expertise are not solely defined by formal education credentials,” said Paul Chiang, the parliamentary secretary to Canada’s minister of housing and diversity and inclusion.

“By removing the education requirement under the Work Experience Stream B for the Hong Kong permanent residence pathway, we are ensuring that qualifications do not become a barrier to those who possess valuable experience and expertise. This change sends a powerful message of welcome and encouragement, reinforcing our commitment to building a diverse and prosperous nation.”


In 2021, there were 4,290 Hongkongers who applied for permanent residency through the special work-to-emigrate route and almost 2,000 of them have since been approved, reports the South China Morning Post.

The IRCC’s decision to drop the educational requirements allowed 29-year-old Connie Chan to apply in August despite it having been more than five years since she had graduated. She had been lobbying Ottawa for years through a group she created to have the educational requirement amended to allow older graduates to apply.

She thinks about 300 of the applications in August came from members of her group and she expects the number of applications will continue to climb as more Hong Kongers realize they meet the new requirements.

Removing Educational Requirements Is Boosting Canadian Diversity, Says Miao

In the Greater Vancouver community of Richmond, known for its high concentration of Hong Kong immigrants, Richmond Centre MP Wilson Miao predicted earlier this year that the loosening of the requirements of the Stream B pathway would grow Canada’s social diversity.

“This will drive economic growth and foster cultural diversity,” said Miao. “Together, Hong Kong and Canada, are fueling our economy, creating new opportunities, and a hope for strengthened bonds.”

Those words have since proven to be prophetic as Hong Kong immigration has spiked.

Ottawa’s latest measure to help Hong Kongers jives with its Indo-Pacific Strategy, a plan to deepen Canadian engagement in the Indo-Pacific over the next decade.

The latest move also comes on the heels of other measures taken by Ottawa to encourage immigration from Hong Kong.

In early February two years ago, Canada’s immigration department launched a new open work permit to allow eligible Hong Kong residents to gain valuable work experience in Canada and apply for permanent residence more quickly.

This year, that measure was extended and expanded, giving Hong Kong residents until Feb. 7, 2025 to apply.

“Canada needs more people for economic reasons … and for demographic reasons,” said Fraser. “The reality is that we cannot meet the needs for the market with the existing labour force.”

To be granted permanent residence, applicants must intend to live in any Canadian province or territory other than Quebec. Hong Kong residents who are living in Quebec are advised to consult the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI) to learn more about immigration pathways available to them in that province.

Open Work Permits For Hong Kongers Gives Canadian Employers Access To A Skilled Workforce

With the extension of the open work permit program earlier this year, the immigration minister said Canada was both showing its support for the people of Hong Kong and helping itself to a skilled workforce.

“By extending and expanding Canada’s open work permits for Hong Kongers, we are giving Canadian employers more skilled workers to hire at a time when we need them most and providing valuable work experience, all while also showing our support for the people of Hong Kong,” said Fraser.

That policy allows spouses or common-law partners and dependent children to also apply for a study permit or work permit.

Dr. Anna Victoria Wong, executive director of Community Family Services of Ontario, called the extension of the program a win for Canadian employers looking for skilled workers.

“As a social service agency, we understand intimately the needs of incoming and growing populations,” said Wong. “As a publicly funded provider, we are mindful of the challenges in our local economic and employment sectors.

“We strive to capitalize on the efficient use of resources to align needs from both sides to create a win-win situation for newcomers and for Canada. This policy update serves just that and imports talents that are ready, willing, and able to contribute to the Canadian economy and are supportive of the core values within our charter.”

Candidates hoping to apply for the In-Canada Graduates stream, Stream A, must:

  • hold a valid passport issued by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China or the United Kingdom to a British National (Overseas) as a person born, naturalized or registered in Hong Kong;
  • be physically present in Canada when they apply and get permanent residence;
  • have valid temporary resident status in Canada;
  • intend to live in Canada, in any province or territory other than the province of Quebec;
  • have graduated from a post-secondary designated learning institution in Canada in the three years prior to their application with either a diploma (not graduate or post-graduate) for a program of at least two years, a degree (associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral), or a graduate or post-graduate diploma or certificate for a program of at least one year and with at least 50 per cent of the program completed in Canada (either in person or online).

Those who have a graduate or post-graduate diploma or certificate must also have completed a post-secondary diploma or degree as a prerequisite to this graduate or post-graduate program within five years prior to the start of their graduate or post-graduate program.

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Colin Singer
Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer and founder of immigration.ca featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is also founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.