Immigration Minister Sean Fraser extended the application deadline by two years on Monday for the open work permit program for Hong Kongers and also announced that the program will now be open for Hong Kongers who have completed their studies in the past 10 years.
Under the program, Hong Kongers previously had to have completed their studies within the past five years.
“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.”
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With the extension of the open work permit program, Canada is 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.
The extended deadline for eligible Hong Kong residents to apply for an open work permit is now Feb. 7, 2025 and 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.”
Canada Striving To Strengthen Ties To Indo-Pacific Region
The latest move is part of Ottawa’s strategy to strengthen its ties to the Indo-Pacific region over the next decade, increasing our contributions to regional peace and security, strengthening economic growth and resilience, and supporting sustainable development across the region.
“At a time when the world is facing many challenges, Canada remains steadfast in its commitment to supporting the rights and freedoms of individuals around the globe,” said Scarborough-Agincourt MP Jean Yip during the announcement on Monday.
“The expansion of open work permits and the creation of pathways to permanent residency for Hong Kong residents are a testament to this commitment and will help bring even more skilled and talented individuals to our country.”
In September 2021, Canada also launched a pathway with two streams to permanent residency in Canada for Hong Kongers as China was then cracking down on democratic freedoms in the former British protectorate that reverted to China in 1997.
“With young Hong Kongers casting their eyes abroad, we want them to choose Canada,” then-Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said in announcing the new pathways a little over a year ago.
“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.
Under that temporary public policy for Hong Kong residents who are currently in Canada, there are two streams, the In-Canada Graduates stream and the Canadian Work Experience.
That public policy is to last until Aug. 31, 2026.
Canada Offering To Streams To Permanent Residency For Hong Kongers
Candidates hoping to apply for the In-Canada Graduates stream 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.
Under the Canadian Work Experience stream, applicants still have to meet all of the same passport and temporary residence requirements but can apply even if they have graduated beyond the three-year limit of the In-Canada Graduates stream.
Work Experience Needs To Have Been Paid Employment To Qualify
The Canadian Work Experience stream allows applicants who have graduated in the five years before they apply with:
- a diploma (not graduate or post-graduate) for a program of at least two years, or a degree (for example, an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree or a doctorate) from a post-secondary designated learning institution in Canada;
- a graduate or post-graduate diploma or certificate for a program of at least one year from a post-secondary designated learning institution in Canada, or;
- a foreign educational credential equivalent to one of the following:
- a Canadian post-secondary diploma (not graduate or post-graduate) for a program of at least two years;
- a Canadian post-secondary degree, or;
- a Canadian graduate or post-graduate diploma or certificate for a program of at least one year.
Applicants for this stream must also have worked in Canada for at least 12 months full-time, or an equal amount of part-time hours (at least 1,560 hours in total) in the three years before they apply.
That work has to have been done while the applicant was legally allowed to work in Canada and cannot include any hours of work spent:
- as a full-time student;
- working outside Canada;
- on leave from a job (medical, parental or similar);
- on an extended absence outside Canada, or;
Applicants must provide a copy of their language test results to demonstrate they have a level five score in all four skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking) in one of the following:
- Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB)
- Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC)