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Ask Tito Mike by Michael Scott  

Canada launches open work permit

for recent Hong Kong graduates

by Michael Scott

Hong Kong has been a valuable source for immigration to Canada for over 150 years. Immigrants from the former British colony have added much to Canada’s economic, social, cultural and political life. Today Canada stands in support of pro-democratic forces in their opposition to the new national security laws imposed by the Chinese government in June 2020, which criminalize secession, subversion, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts. In January of this year over 55 pro-democracy figures were apprehended. The situation is deteriorating and Canada, along with the international community, has expressed its concern and announced special measures to accommodate people affected by the crackdown and uncertainty.

Effective February 8, 2021 the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) has announced the introduced of a temporary public policy for Hong Kong residents to apply for an open work permit up to three years in duration.

“The launch of the Hong Kong immigrant pathway is a historic initiative that will attract young, talented and experienced graduates who will help to drive Canada’s economy forward. 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,” Minister Marco Mendicino announced. “This is a landmark immigration initiative that will strengthen our economy and will deepen the ties between Canada and the people of Hong Kong.”

To be eligible you must:

  • Hold a valid passport issued by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) or the United Kingdom to a British National Overseas (BNO);
  • The work permit will be issued for up to three years from the date of approval or until your passport expires;
  • Have graduated no more than five years from your application submission date for the open work permit with a degree from a designated post-secondary learning institution in Canada or abroad, or
  • The diploma or certificate must be for a post-secondary course of studies for a minimum of two years;
  • Or have graduated from an equivalent course of studies outside Canada, which must be confirmed by an Education Credentials Assessment (ECA) from an approved credentials assessment agency in Canada. This list includes: Comparative Education Services; International Credentials Assessment Service of Canada; World Education Services; International Qualifications Services (IQAS); and International Credential Evaluation Service;

Potential work permit applicants can apply from abroad or from inside Canada. Applicants from abroad must not only have an approved open work permit but also be able to travel to Canada with a letter of introduction for your work permit, a valid job offer, and be able to start work once you complete your 14-day quarantine in Canada. For those inside Canada, you must have valid status as a visitor, student or worker, or have applied to extend your status before it expired (“implied status”), or be eligible to restore your status.

Canada is set to roll out two other pathways to permanent residency for Hong Kong residents later this year. The first will cover persons who have at least one year of work experience in Canada, and the other for recent graduates of Canadian post-secondary institutions, to apply to become permanent residents directly. The ease of application submissions and flexibility is evidence of Canada’s commitment to individuals from Hong Kong, especially for those with a history of immigration to Canada.

Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Immigration Canada and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with Immigration Connexion International Ltd. Contact him at 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail:

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