New Pathways Implemented in Response to Hong Kong Human Rights Concerns
Canada’s Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino has announced two new immigration pathways and study/work permits for Hong Kong residents, along with new measures for asylum seekers.
These initiatives will build on the government’s recently announced 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan while supporting Canada’s commitment to supporting Hong Kong due to human rights concerns.
Going forward, Canada will expedite the processing of work and study permits for eligible Hong Kong youths who wish to work or study in Canada. A new open work permit will also be made available to Hong Kong students who have recently graduated from a post-secondary program. This permit will be valid for up to three years, and holders will be able to use the work experience they have gained to help apply for permanent residence.
Permit holders can also apply for immigration through existing pathways such as the Express Entry system, or one of the two new Hong Kong youth immigration programs.
Eligible spouses, common-law partners, and dependent children can also apply for a study or work permit.
No date has been released for when these permits will begin accepting applications, however, a media release from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) stated that they are expected to launch soon.
The new immigration pathways, however, are expected to begin accepting applications in 2021.
The first pathway will enable Hong Kong residents who meet the minimum language and education levels and have a minimum of one year of authorized work experience in Canada to apply for permanent residence directly. The second pathway targets international students from Hong Kong who have graduated from a Canadian post-secondary institution.
The pathways were created in direct response to the Chinese government’s national security law in Hong Kong, which was enacted back in June in response to mass protests. This law has been highly criticized for undermining human rights and freedoms, as it criminalizes “secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces,” and provides very broad definitions for these crimes, which allows the Chinese government to arrest even those who are protesting peacefully.
Measures for Asylum Seekers
In response to the human rights concerns, Hong Kong residents seeking asylum in Canada will be exempt from the 12-month bar on pre-removal risk assessments. Those who have been arrested or convicted for protesting in Hong Kong will also not be deemed inadmissible due to their charge or conviction.
“No foreign national whether from Hong Kong or anywhere else will be disqualified from pursuing a legitimate asylum claim or any other immigration route if they have not committed any crime that would be recognized under Canadian law,” said Mendicino.
Additional Measures for Canadians
For Canadian citizens and permanent residents that are currently in Hong Kong, the processing of any documents that are required to return to Canada will be expedited.