New Program Designed to Give Students From Hong Kong a Safe Haven Amid Harsh New Security Laws

The Canadian Federal government will soon be launching several new programs to help Hong Kong citizens living in Canada remain in the country. The programs are being launched in response to global criticism of controversial new “draconian” Chinese security laws being enforced in Hong Kong.

The first program will be open for applications on February 8 and will provide former international students from Hong Kong the ability to obtain a work permit that lasts up to three years. This will enable them to work towards securing permanent residence in Canada.

“With flexible open work permits and a fast-track to permanent residency, skilled Hong Kong residents will have a unique opportunity to develop their careers and help accelerate Canada’s economic recovery,” said Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino in a recent statement.

Hong Kong residents who have earned a post-secondary diploma or degree from a Canadian institution within the last five years or hold an equivalent foreign credential are eligible for this program.

Two other programs will also be available to Hong Kong citizens. One will be open to Hong Kong citizens that have lived and obtained at least one year of work experience in Canada. The other will be open to recent post-secondary graduates coming to Canada directly from Hong Kong. The details of these two programs are still being worked on and will be launched at a later date.

Why These Programs Are Being Put in Place

The Chinese government has recently implemented new security laws and measures in Hong Kong that are being widely criticized. Specifically, the Chinese government criminalized the following acts:

  • Secession – breaking away from the country,
  • Subversion – undermining the power or authority of the central government,
  • Terrorism – using violence or intimidation against people, and
  • Collusion with foreign or external forces.

Critics of the new security laws believe they diminish Hong Kong’s autonomy and strip citizens of human rights.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Federal government has been pressured to offer assistance to Hong Kong citizens that are affected by these new laws.

However, there are concerns that China will not recognize dual nationality, despite the fact that nearly 300,000 Hong Kong citizens currently have Canadian permanent resident status.

In fact, according to Global News, there have been reports in recent weeks of Hong Kong citizens who hold both Chinese and Canadian passports being detained and forced to denounce either their Chinese or Canadian citizenship.

This has led to increased concerns that China will begin cracking down harder on dual nationality and cut Canadians off from consular access.