Justin Trudeau’s government is easing immigration requirements for Hong Kong residents to settle in Canada in response to China’s crackdown in the former British colony.
Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino laid out the government’s plan Thursday. It includes the creation of a new three-year open work permit for young Hong Kongers and shortening eligibility for permanent residency to one year.
“The people-to-people ties between Canada and Hong Kong are strong and deep, and these new measures celebrate those long-standing relationships,” Mendicino said in an emailed statement. “Newcomers from Hong Kong, including students, have made outstanding contributions to Canada, and the changes we’re announcing today will strengthen our relationship.”
The announcement comes at a low point in Canada-China relations, which have been fraught ever since the 2018 arrest of a top Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. executive in Vancouver on a U.S. extradition request.
On Wednesday, Trudeau’s foreign minister condemned Beijing’s decision to allow the disqualification of lawmakers it deems insufficiently loyal from Hong Kong’s legislature.
To be eligible for the new work permit, Hong Kong residents must have recently graduated from a university or other post-secondary institution. The government will also expedite study permit applications.
Hong Kongers already in Canada will also now be eligible to apply for permanent residency sooner, provided they meet language and education requirements and have worked for a year in Canada.
Mendicino said Canadians in Hong Kong and their family members are able to return to Canada at any time, and that his department would expedite document requests in these cases. Hong Kong is home to around 300,000 Canadian citizens.