IRCC introduces new temporary policy for PR applicants from Hong Kong

IRCC introduces new temporary policy for PR applicants from Hong Kong

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has introduced a new temporary policy to help permanent residence (PR) applicants from Hong Kong to remain in Canada while they wait for a decision on their application.

This temporary policy is a response to a high volume of applications for the initial temporary public policy for Hong Kong residents, introduced in 2021. In that year, IRCC created two new paths for residents of Hong Kong who have worked or studied in Canada to receive Canadian PR in response to the geopolitical situation between China and Hong Kong.

What is the new policy?

Starting from May 27th, 2024, residents of Hong Kong who have applied for PR under IRCC’s special 2021 pathway will now be able to extend their status, and apply for an open work permit (OWP)—so they can remain in Canada and work while their application is being processed.

This new policy will specifically aid those who both:

  • Applied under Stream A (in-Canada graduates) or Stream B (Canadian work experience) of the 2021 policy; and
  • Held a work or study permit in the three years before their application for permanent residence was received.

This new public policy will be in place for five years, allowing applicants for PR to remain in Canada during the processing of their applications.

IRCC notes that those with temporary status in Canada (work/study permit)—or their guardians—are responsible for monitoring and applying to renew their status as needed. Individuals on a work or study permit in Canada, who apply to extend the validity of their document before it expires, continue to have legal status in Canada (even while their renewal application is being processed) due to a legal standard called “maintained status”.

The department further warns that any individuals who have lost status in Canada within the 90 days before they apply for an open work permit under the new policy, may apply for the OWP and to restore their status at the same time. However, if an individual has been out of status for more than 90 days before submitting an application under this new policy, their application will not be considered.

Context on the temporary policy for Hong Kong residents

Canada and Hong Kong have shared diplomatic relations since 1923. In fact, Hong Kong is one of the largest sources of new immigrants to Canada every year. According to 2021 data, over 200,000 newcomers in Canada cited Hong Kong as their place of birth.

On June 30th, 2020, China imposed a national security law in Hong Kong, criminalising “secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces” while providing broad definitions for these crimes.

In response to these changes, (which the Canadian government feared could lead to undermined rights and freedoms, and potentially discriminatory or arbitrary enforcement of the law), Canada put into place several facilitative measures to help Hong Kong residents come to Canada.

Canada’s continued commitment to the people of Hong Kong is outlined in the government’s Info-Pacific Strategy.