Canada immigration news: Hong Kongers are immigrating to Canada in record numbers after Ottawa open its arms for residents suffering from China’s anti-democracy crackdown.
The communist superpower has quashed dissent in Hong Kong by closing newspapers, forcing all candidates running for office to take a loyalty test, and tearing down monuments commemorating the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
Unions and other independent organizations have been closed. Pro-democracy activists who were unable to flee or hide were arrested under what was described as a draconian national security law.
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In the midst of all the turmoil in Hong Kong, Canadians stepped forward. Ottawa offered two new pathways to immigration for Hong Kongers last year, one for students and the other for workers.
“With young Hong Kongers casting their eyes abroad, we want them to choose Canada,” said then-Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino in a statement last year.
“Our Hong Kong immigration pathway is a historic initiative, intended to attract talented applicants who will drive our economy forward. Skilled Hong Kongers will have a unique opportunity to both develop their careers and help accelerate our recovery,” he said.
It seems to be working.
Last year, Canada welcomed 2,295 new permanent residents from Hong Kong.
That’s more than double the 1,045 new permanent residents from Hong Kong in 2020 and 49 per cent more than the 1,540 new permanent residents from Hong Kong in 2019, the last full year before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The latest data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) shows 555 Hong Kongers became new permanent residents of Canada in the first two months of this year.
That puts Canada on track to receive 3,330 new permanent residents from Hong Kong this year.
The number of Hong Kongers coming to live in Canada had been climbing steadily since at least 2015 when 895 of them made the move. The following year and again in 2017, there were 1,360 new permanent residents to Canada from Hong Kong and in 2018 there were 1,525.
Study Permits For Hong Kongers in Canada More Than Doubled Last Year
The anti-democracy crackdowns fueled a strong desire in many Hong Kong residents to leave.
When Ottawa announced a new pathway to permanent residence for Hong Kong university and college graduates who had completed at least 50 per cent of their program at a Canadian college or university last year, the number of Canadian study permits for Hong Kong residents jumped.
In the last year before the pandemic, Canada issued 2,490 study permits to students from Hong Kong. That nudged up to 2,605 study permits for Hong Kong students the following year.
At the start of last year, it seemed there was little change.
Then, the new pathway was announced – and the number of study permits issued to Hong Kong residents spiked. By the end of 2021, Canada has issued 6,370 study permits to Hong Kong residents, more than double the number issued in 2019.
The other pathway to permanent residency opened up for Hong Kongers last year was for workers who had at least one year of full-time work experience – or the equivalent of 1,560 hours in part-time work – and who had either a university degree or certificate or a college diploma.
That education did not have to be completed in Canada or at a Canadian college or university.
Temporary Residents in Canada From Hong Kong Skyrocketing
Since the announcement of that pathway to permanent residence, the number of Hong Kongers working as temporary residents in Canada has skyrocketed.
Last year, Canada issued 5,550 work permits to Hong Kongers through the International Mobility Program (IMP), up 136.2 per cent from the 2,350 such work permits issued in 2020 and an increase of 169.4 per cent from the 2,060 such work permits issued in the last year before the pandemic.
The number of work permits issued through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) also jumped last year. These rose by almost 71.9 per cent, to 275, from 160 the previous year and by 150 per cent compared to the 110 issued in 2019.
That means there were 5,825 temporary workers in Canada from Hong Kong last year, almost three times as many as the 2,170 in the last full year before the pandemic and more than twice as many students from there in Canada as well.