3 Great Pathways: Canada Temporary & Permanent Residence for people from Hong Kong

hong kong

Late in 2020, the Government of Canada launched a new Special Program for Hong Kong, designed to encourage recent Hong Kong graduates and workers with essential work experience to choose Canada to study, work, and settle.

The program includes enhancements and support for people from Hong Kong who are currently in Canada and want to stay, or for people from Hong Kong who want to start plans to come to Canada once COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted.

It also benefits immediate family members of Hong Kong residents who will be working or studying in Canada.


Canada and Hong Kong have deep ties. The first Hong Kong residents arrived in Canada more than 150 years ago. Since then, they have made significant contributions to Canada’s economy and to its social and political landscape.

Canada has continuously supported the people of Hong Kong. This Special Program reflects Canada’s concerns about the human rights situation in Honk Kong.

First Pathway

In February 2021, the Honorable Marco. E. L. Mendicino, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC), announced that “Hong Kong residents will be able to apply for new Open Work Permits beginning on February 8, 2021. Valid for up to 3 years, these permits will allow Hong Kong residents to gain valuable employment experience and make significant contributions to Canada. Hong Kong residents must have graduated with a Canadian post-secondary diploma or degree in the last 5 years or hold an equivalent foreign credential. A post-secondary diploma program must be a minimum of 2 years.”

That announcement explained that, under the first stream of the Hong Kong Special Program, Hong Kong residents currently in Canada under temporary status, including visitors, students, and workers, are eligible to apply online from within Canada for an Open Work Permit.

This new pathway to Permanent Residence for in-Canada Hong Kong residents requires them to meet specific eligibility criteria.

As of February 8, 2021, foreign nationals who hold either a HKSAR or BNO passport are eligible to apply for an open Work Permit under a 2-year temporary resident public policy exempting them from some other requirements. Applicants can reside in Canada or abroad at the time of application. Work permit applications must be submitted online.

Eligible spouses or common-law partners, as well as dependent children, can also apply for a Study or Work Permit, as appropriate.

Eligibility requirements for Open Work Permits


For post-secondary studies, the applicant must hold one of the following education credentials:

  • Degree from a Post-Secondary Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada, or an equivalent educational credential earned abroad (a degree is, for example, bachelor, master, doctorate); or
  • A Post-Secondary diploma from a post-secondary DLI in Canada or the equivalent credential from an overseas institution along with an educational credential assessment (ECA) report from an agency approved by IRCC to confirm Canadian equivalency. The program of study must be at least 2 years in duration.

The educational credential must have been obtained in the 5 years immediately prior to the date on which the application is submitted; for degrees obtained outside Canada, including an Education Credential Assessment (ECA) report is recommended.

Revisions made to this public policy in May 2021 added that, for graduate or post-graduate studies, the applicant must hold one of these two credentials:

  • Graduate or post-graduate credential (for example, Graduate or Post-graduate Diploma) from a DLI in Canada; or
  • An equivalent educational credential from an institution abroad, along with an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report from an agency approved by IRCC to confirm Canadian equivalency

The graduate or post-graduate program of study must be at least 1 year in duration, and the completion of a Post-Secondary degree or diploma must be a program prerequisite. The post-graduate credential must have been obtained in the 5 years immediately preceding submission of the application. The prerequisite Post-Secondary degree or diploma must have been obtained in the 5 years immediately preceding the start of the post-graduate program.

This amendment applies to Open Work Permit applications for which a decision has not yet been made and which were received under the public policy implemented as of February 8, 2021.


Applicants applying for an Open Work Permit under the public policy must select “Applying for a work permit under an active public policy or special measure announced by IRCC” in the application portal. This will generate the Open Work Permit results.

The document checklist available online still includes more documents than are required for this program; this will be corrected by Fall 2021 for online applications received outside Canada. Until then, applicants will be instructed to upload a page with “Not applicable” in the extra document slots, as per the list below.

Mandatory documents:

  • Copy of educational credential, transcripts, or proof of enrolment at a post-secondary educational institution
  • Copy of HKSAR or BNO passport
  • Family Information form [IMM 5707]
  • CV or resume
  • Digital photo
  • Payment receipt in the Proof of Fee Exemption slot

“Not applicable” documents

  • Employment reference letter
  • Letter from current employer
  • Employment records
  • Employment contract

Police certificates

The officer reviewing the application may ask for a police certificate, to be fully satisfied that the applicant is not criminally inadmissible.

  • Work permit extension or change of conditions

HKSAR and BNO passport holders already in Canada are eligible to either extend their stay or apply for their initial Open Work Permit from within Canada. They cannot apply at a port of entry. For in-Canada Work Permit Extension applications, a copy of the CV or Resumé is not required.

  • Exemptions

Under the Open Work Permit public policy, the following exemptions also apply for Hong Kong residents:

  • Hong Kong residing in Canada as visitors are eligible to apply inland for an Open Work Permit.
  • Hong Kong residents are not prohibited from being issued a Work Permit if the reason for a potential prohibition is only having engaged in unauthorized work or study in Canada, or having failed to comply with the conditions of a previous permit or authorization (unless they engaged in unauthorized work for an employer under a section of the policy).

Note: The Open Work Permit fee is not required when a Work Permit is issued under the public policy. Officers must generate a refund of the fee.

  • Spouses or common-law partners and dependent children

An Open Work Permit may be issued under an LMIA exemption to the spouse or common-law partner of applicants under this Special Program, if the principal application is approved for a Work Permit. Dependent children who are 18 years or older are also eligible to apply for an Open Work Permit. Children under 18 can apply for a Study Permit under existing streams, or may study without one at the K–12 level if they are already in Canada and both parents are not visitors. Applications must be submitted online.

Family members applying for an Open Work Permit under the Hong Kong Special Program and its Open Work Permit policy are also exempt from paying the Open Work Permit holder fee ($100).

Two new Pathways

In addition to the above pathway to obtain Open Work permits, the Government of Canada recently announced implementation rules for 2 new pathways for young Hong Kong residents (Stream A and Stream B) to obtain Permanent Residence in Canada, which will be shortly available.

This announcement expands to 3 the total number of pathways under the Hong Kong Special Program.

The 2 new pathways are for Hong Kong residents who are in Canada, to obtain Permanent Residence status in Canada either as In-Canada Graduates or on the basis of Canadian work experience.

Hong Kong residents who are working in Canada or who have recently graduated from Canadian institutions may apply for Permanent Residence through these 2 new streams.

Stream A: In-Canada Graduates

Applicants must have completed one of the following educational credentials at a Post-Secondary Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada in the last 3 years, and they must have done at least 50% of their program of study (in person or online) while in Canada:

  • Degree (bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or doctorate); or
  • Diploma from a program that is at least 2 years in length; or
  • Graduate or Post-graduate credential (for a diploma or certificate) from a program that is at least 1 year in length.

This first new pathway is for Hong Kong residents with at least 1 year of work experience in Canada and who meet the language and education criteria.

Stream B: Work Experience

The second new pathway is for applicants that have at least 1 year of full-time work experience in Canada in the last 3 years (or have the part-time equivalent, that is, at least 1,560 hours in total).

They must also have completed one of the following at a post-secondary learning institution in or outside Canada in the last 5 years, becoming eligible to apply directly for Permanent Residence:

  • Degree (bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or doctorate); or
  • Diploma from a program that is at least 2 years in length; or
  • Graduate or Post-graduate credential (for a diploma or certificate) from a program that is at least 1 year in length.

Canada residency requirement

Applicants for both new pathways (Streams A and B) must have valid Temporary Resident status and be physically in Canada when they file their application and when Permanent Residency is granted.

For example, you hold a valid Visitor Record, Study Permit, or Work Permit. If you are not sure about your residency status in Canada, consult us!

You must intend to live in any Province or Territory in Canada except the province of Quebec.

Who is a Hong Kong resident?

To qualify for any of the two new immigration pathway streams, you must hold one of the following two passports:

  • A valid HKSAR passport; or
  • A British National (Overseas) passport.

These are the only documents IRCC accepts as proof of Hong Kong residency.

Language requirement

You must provide a copy of your language test results, with scores of at least CLB 5 under each language skill (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking).

If you haven’t already completed a language test, make sure you book one early.

Language tests officially recognized by IRCC include:

  • CELPIP General
  • IELTS General
  • TEF Canada
  • TCF Canada

Clearport Immigration Services to Study, Work, and get Permanent Residence in Canada

Clearport has expanded its overall services, adding a full suite of 20 Certified Immigration Services into Canada. Our team of Certified Immigration Consultants is focused on servicing Students, Workers, Families, Investors, Businesses and Organizations, with quality, passion, and transparency, and always under strict regulations and guidelines.

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Peace of mind: Canadian regulations protect you.

Yes, you are protected. Our Licensed Canadian Immigration Consultants are full members in good standing of ICCRC, the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council.

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We serve clients both in Canada and outside of Canada on Federal applications, as well as applications throughout Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon.

Book an Immigration assessment Consultation

An Immigration Consultation can save you time and money by providing the professional guidance you require from a well-prepared, certified Team of ICCRC-regulated consultants.

Please beware of advice from “immigration consultants” that are not regulated or in good standing. Only a Certified Canadian Immigration Consultant in good standing with the ICCRC can offer consultancy services for applications to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)

Verify Status with ICCRC: link to ICCRC site

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Our Team of Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) will review your qualifications for the most applicable Immigration Program and Pathway, including those in the Hong Kong Special Program. Then, they will work with you to define a strategy and plan to achieve your goals.

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