Hong Kongers have a variety of immigration options to move to Canada. In addition to the traditional routes, the government of Canada has announced several new initiatives to help more Hong Kong residents immigrate to Canada.
In this article:
- Study permit
- Permanent Residency: Express Entry, Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP), and Family Sponsorship
- Work permit
- International Experience Class (IEC) – Working holiday visa
- Business or investment-related immigration
Immigration programs for Hong Kong residents to move to Canada
Canada has many immigration programs that enable foreign nationals to live, work, study, and settle in the country. Eligible Hong Kong residents in particular, can explore some of the newly introduced measures by the Government to fast-track their applications and move to Canada sooner.
Here are some of the popular ways you can move to Canada from Hong Kong:
Canada is a popular study destination for Hong Kong residents. To study in Canada, you need to get accepted at a Canadian designated learning institution (DLI) and apply for a study permit. Many students also see this as the first step in becoming permanent residents (PRs), and eventually, Canadian citizens.
|Articles that can help you learn more about applying for a Canadian study permit:|
2021 update: Expedited processing for study permits for international students from Hong Kong
All study permit applications submitted by individuals with a Hong Kong special administrative region (HKSAR) or British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) passport will be eligible for priority processing.
Express Entry is one of the most sought after and popular ways to immigrate to Canada, mainly due to its simplicity and quick processing timelines. It is ideal for skilled individuals who want to settle in Canada permanently. It has three immigration streams:
- Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program: For applicants with significant foreign work experience and/or a high level of education.
- Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP): For skilled tradespeople.
- Canadian Experience Class (CEC): For foreign nationals who have been working in Canada for a period of at least one year.
The Express Entry program is based on the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) – that ranks candidates based on their age, education, language skills, work experience and other factors. Periodically, the top-scoring candidates are invited to apply for PR.
|Read How Express Entry works for a stepwise approach to apply for permanent residence in Canada.|
Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) are primarily aimed at individuals who:
- Have the skills, education and work experience to contribute to the economy of a specific province or territory;
- Intend to settle permanently in that province or territory; and
- Want to become permanent residents of Canada.
Each province and territory has its own PNP streams (immigration programs that target certain groups such as new graduates, business people, skilled workers in specific professions, or semi-skilled workers) and unique requirements.
|See Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP): Moving to Canada as a PR for more details on applying through PNP.|
Family sponsorship provides a route for spouses, partners, children, parents, grandparents, and in certain cases, other relatives to live, work and study in Canada as PRs.
|Read Family Sponsorship: Moving to Canada as a permanent resident (PR) to learn more about this program, evaluate if it’s an option for you, and get details on how to apply.|
If you intend to move to Canada as a PR, you can also explore your eligibility with other immigration programs such as the Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP), Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP), Quebec-selected Skilled Workers, Caregivers, Self-employed, and the Agri-food Pilot. Learn more about all these immigration streams in the article, How to move to Canada and get permanent residence (PR).
2021 update: Hong Kong residents can explore additional routes to apply for Canadian PR
Two new pathways to PR are being created for Hong Kong residents who come to Canada to either study or work. These will be available in 2021:
- The first will target former Hong Kong residents who have gained a minimum of one year of authorized work experience in Canada and meet other criteria such as minimum language and education levels.
- The second pathway will be for those who have graduated from a post-secondary institution in Canada. These individuals can then apply directly for PR.
For both these pathways, principal applicants will also be able to include in-Canada spouses, partners, and dependent children in their application. Additionally, PR applications from family members of Canadian citizens, persons registered under the Indian Act, PRs or protected persons residing in Hong Kong that are in processing will be prioritized by the Government where feasible. Detailed information about eligibility criteria and application procedures is expected to be released in coming months.
Since February 8, 2021, Hong Kong residents are eligible to apply for new open work permits. These work permits will be valid for up to three years and will allow Hong Kong residents to gain valuable employment experience in Canada.
To apply, Hong Kong residents must have –
- Graduated with a Canadian post-secondary diploma or degree (course duration: minimum two years) in the last five years OR hold an equivalent foreign credential; and
- A Hong Kong special administrative region (HKSAR) or British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) passport.
How to apply for work permit:
- Those currently residing in Canada temporarily, including visitors, students and workers can apply online from within Canada.
- Those applying from abroad remain subject to current travel restrictions and may not be able to come to Canada at this time, unless they have a job offer or meet a travel exemption and comply with all public health requirements.
IEC allows eligible individuals to apply for a Working Holiday Visa. Hong Kong is one of the countries that has a Working Holiday Agreement with Canada. This allows Hong Kong residents (between the ages of 18 and 30) with a HKSAR or BN(O) passport to temporarily work for any employer in Canada and to switch jobs and location after arrival.
Those interested in the program must first submit a profile on the government site when the registration period is open. Eligible applicants from the pool may then be invited to apply through an invitation round.
IEC participants from Hong Kong may be issued an open work permit that’s valid for up to 12 months. Usually, there is a limited quota system in place. The pool for the 2021 IEC season for Hong Kong is open as of March 1, 2021. IEC is a very popular category and the number of applications generally exceed the set quota. So, be sure to start planning your move early! Learn more about IEC and get information on processing times and fees on the Government website.
Apart from the IEC, there are certain other types of work permits available for Canada. You can check your eligibility and understand the process to apply by referring to the Government website.
If you intend to start your own business in Canada or if you have funds to support new businesses in Canada, the Start-up Visa (SUV) program may be ideal for you. Entrepreneurs with the skills and potential to build innovative businesses in Canada, create jobs for Canadians, and compete on a global scale, can apply for a Start-up Visa.
To be eligible for the Start-up Visa Program, you must:
- Have a qualifying business;
- Get a letter of support from a designated organization;
- Meet the language requirements; and
- Bring enough money to settle.
Foreign nationals who receive a Commitment Certificate and Letter of Support issued by a designated entity can apply for a short-term work permit under the International Mobility Program before submitting their PR application under the Start-Up Visa program. The designated entity, however, must support the request for a work permit.
If you meet the eligibility requirements, you can apply for a work permit. You do not need to apply for PR first. However, note that a Commitment Certificate is valid for six months from the day it is issued. So, whether you apply for a work permit or not, you must submit your application for PR before the certificate expires. Learn more about the Start-up Visa program on the Government website.
Note: The Province of Quebec runs its own business immigration program. If you plan to live in Quebec, visit Quebec’s immigration website.
Canada regularly introduces new measures and revises existing guidelines to improve various immigration programs and make it easier for foreign nationals to move to Canada. If you’re unsure about which immigration stream may be right for you and your family, it is advisable to consult with an authorized immigration lawyer who can help guide you.