Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press
Hong Kong residents will be able to apply for new open work permits under immigration agreements next week to settle in the former British colony in Canada amid China’s crackdown on civil liberties.
Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino told The Globe and Mail on Wednesday that Hong Kong residents will be able to apply for the three-year open work permit from Monday. The work permit is available to younger Hong Kong graduates or those with work experience Canada may value.
“The young Hong Kong residents attending Canadian education will have the chance to speed up their permanent residence and that will be great for our economy,” he said. “For everyone else overseas, for the young Hong Kong people eligible for this program, they have time to start planning [to come to Canada]. ”
Mr Mendicino said Ottawa would expedite the necessary documents and not ban access to Hong Kong citizens indicted under China’s Security Law, which criminalizes protest and opposition. This law violates the commitments Beijing signed in 1984 in a contract with London to carry out the 1997 surrender. China had guaranteed local autonomy and civil rights would last for 50 years.
The Chinese government imposed a comprehensive national security law on Hong Kong last June, ostensibly to combat secession, subversion and terrorism, but with vaguely defined crimes that critics say are effective at criminalizing dissent and opposition to the Chinese Communist Party’s rule .
Mr Mendicino said he expected many of the 300,000 Canadians living in Hong Kong to want to leave the Asian financial hub once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
“That is exactly what we are preparing for. If you are Canadian and live overseas, you have a return policy. Our consular officers are there to make sure these people can exercise this right, ”he said.
Canada has so far accepted at least 50 Hong Kong asylum seekers as political refugees, according to a senior official. The Globe did not identify the officer as they were not allowed to publicly discuss refugee applicants from Hong Kong.
However, all of these applicants arrived before the COVID-19 travel restrictions. The big problem persecuted Hong Kongers face today is their inability to get on a plane to reach countries like Canada and apply for asylum.
Mr Mendicino unveiled the new immigration rules in November, which included a new path to permanent residence status for those who come here. These details will be available later this year.
Any Hong Kong resident applying for work permits must have a Canadian post-secondary diploma or degree or equivalent foreign ID in the past five years. A post-secondary diploma program must last at least two years.
You can apply online if you are currently in Canada. Immigration said those applying from overseas will continue to be subject to the travel restrictions of COVID-19 and may not be able to come to Canada unless they have a job offer or meet a travel exemption and meet all public health requirements.
The government will also waive application processing fees for Hong Kong residents in Canada who wish to extend their stay.
Find out what’s happening in the Halls of Power with the day’s major political headlines and commentaries selected by the Globe editors (subscribers only). Register today.