Guidance for special measures to support Hong Kong residents to come to Canada
This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.
These instructions provide guidance to officers on the following:
- the administration of temporary and permanent residence measures for Hong Kong youth
- facilitative measures to support family reunification for those who meet the eligibility criteria
For reference, see applicant instructions: How do I get priority processing if I’m a resident of Hong Kong?
On this page
- Fee waivers and exemptions
- Canadian permanent residents
- Temporary residence processing
- Permanent residence
- For more information
Under these facilitative measures, the following clients may be eligible as a principal applicant or an accompanying dependant:
- Residents of Hong Kong as defined in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), regardless of place of physical residence
- Immediate and extended family members of Canadian citizens, persons registered under the Indian Act, Canadian permanent residents or protected persons living in Hong Kong regardless of nationality
- Immediate family members of Hong Kong residents who will be working or studying in Canada
Residents of Hong Kong
- the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People’s Republic of China,
- the United Kingdom to a British National Overseas (BNO), as a person born, naturalized or registered in Hong Kong.
Fee waivers and exemptions
Applicants physically in Canada
HKSAR and BNO (Hong Kong) passport holders who are foreign nationals physically in Canada may have their processing fees waived under these special measures if they are applying for an extension of authorization to remain in Canada as a
- temporary resident ($100);
- worker ($155);
- student ($150);
Note: Clients who need to restore their status are not exempt from paying the $200 restoration fee.
Applicants physically outside of Canada
Clients applying from outside Canada are directed to pay their processing fees online outside of the application and upload the receipt in the Proof of Fee Exemption slot.
All foreign nationals applying for an open work permit under this public policy are exempt from the open work permit holder fee of $100 as the fee is not referenced in subsection R303.2(1).
Important: If this fee is paid in error it must be refunded as per the processing office’s normal refund procedures.
Mandatory tracking of fee waivers
For all applications received after November 12, 2020, the cost recovery fee exemption code 999 as well as a reference to “Hong Kong Special Measures” (in the notes section) must be used to identify all waived fees. This will indicate that no revenue is expected by the department.
Canadian permanent residents
Canadian permanent residents residing in Hong Kong who require a permanent resident travel document (PRTD) will have their paper applications prioritized at IRCC Hong Kong.
Applicants submitting a paper-based application must label the envelope with “Urgent – Hong Kong priority” to ensure officers process their application on a priority basis.
Temporary residence processing
All temporary residence applications for HKSAR or BNO passport holders should be processed following the Temporary residence: COVID-19 program delivery instructions.
Holders of HKSAR passports are visa exempt and may apply for an electronic travel authorization (eTA) should they wish to come to Canada. The Hong Kong Document of Identity cannot be used in place of a HKSAR passport and, therefore, cannot be used to apply for an eTA or for any other application.
Priority processing instructions:
Processing networks should prioritize the processing of temporary residence applications from immediate and extended family members (as defined in the Orders in Council) of Canadian citizens, persons registered under the Indian Act, Canadian permanent residents and protected persons in Canada who have applied for permanent residence, if their family members abroad hold a valid HKSAR or BNO passport and are currently residing outside of Canada. These measures apply to new and existing applications.
Processing networks should prioritize the processing of study permit applications received from HKSAR and BNO passport holders regardless of the physical location of the applicant.
Officers should finalize Hong Kong study permit applications that are for designated learning institutions (DLIs) on the list of DLIs with COVID-19 readiness plans approved by their provincial or territorial authority. If the DLI is not on the list, officers should still process the application but should not finalize it until the DLI is on the approved list.
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 the requirements of paragraph R200(1)(c). Applicants can be residing in Canada or overseas at the time of application. Foreign nationals are not eligible to apply for an open work permit under this public policy at a port of entry. 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.
Under the open work permit public policy, the following exemptions also apply for Hong Kong residents:
- Paragraphs R199(a) to (i) are waived – Hong Kong residents in Canada as visitors are eligible to apply inland for an open work permit under the public policy.
- Paragraph R200(3)(e) is waived – Hong Kong residents are not prohibited from being issued a work permit if the prohibition is only under paragraph R200(3)(e), that is, if they have engaged in unauthorized work or study in Canada or have failed to comply with the conditions of a previous permit or authorization, unless they engaged in unauthorized work for an employer described in section R196.1.
Eligibility requirements for work permits
For post-secondary studies, the applicant must hold either a
- degree (for example, associate, bachelor, master, doctorate) from a post-secondary DLI in Canada or an equivalent educational credential earned abroad, or
- 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 preceding application submission. For degrees issued overseas, officers may request an ECA report.
On May 17, 2021, the public policy was revised to include the following:
For graduate or post-graduate studies, the applicant must hold a
- graduate or post-graduate credential (for example, graduate or post-graduate diploma) from a DLI in Canada or
- an equivalent educational credential from an overseas institution 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 application submission. The prerequisite post-secondary degree or diploma must have been obtained in the 5 years immediately preceding the start of the post-graduate program. For example, if the applicant started their post-graduate studies in fall 2019, then their post-secondary degree or diploma must have been obtained between fall 2014 and summer 2019.
This amendment applies to open work permit applications received under the public policy that was implemented on February 8, 2021, for which a decision has not yet been made.
Applicants applying for an open work permit under the public policy must select in the online application tool that they are “Applying for a work permit under an active public policy or special measure announced by IRCC” for them to trigger the open work permit results.
However, officers should note that the document checklist includes more documents than are required for this program. The online application will be amended for applications received outside Canada in fall 2021. Until then, clients will be instructed to upload a page with “Not applicable” in the extra document slots, as per the list below.
- 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
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 under the public policy. They cannot apply at a port of entry.
For in-Canada work permit extension applications, a copy of the CV or resume is not required.
As with any case, the officer reviewing the file may request a police certificate in order to be fully satisfied that the applicant is not criminally inadmissible.
Note: The open work permit fee [R303.2(1)] is not required when a work permit is issued under a public policy, and officers must initiate a refund of the fee as per normal office procedures.
Spouses or common-law partners and dependent children
An open work permit may be issued, under Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemption code R01, to the spouse or common-law partner if the principal application is approved for a work permit under the public policy. Dependent children who have reached the age of majority (that is, 18 years of age and older) are also eligible to apply for an open work permit. Minor children can apply for a study permit under existing study permit 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 open work permit public policy are also exempt from paying the open work permit holder fee ($100).
International Experience Canada (IEC)
For the program’s 2021 season, which opened on March 3, 2021, International Experience Canada (IEC) continues to invite all Hong Kong youth in the IEC pool to submit an application. Hong Kong youth will, however, not be able to enter Canada unless they have
- a valid port of entry letter of introduction (LOI)
- a valid job offer, which includes a written note from an employer in Canada that says
- their business is continuing to operate (whether essential or not)
- they will start work after the 14-day mandatory quarantine
- proof of adequate health-care coverage
Permanent residence applications from family members of Canadian citizens, persons registered under the Indian Act, permanent residents or protected persons residing in Hong Kong that are in process should be prioritized where feasible. However, in some circumstances, the most expeditious option for these clients may be to apply for an eTA or TRV.
Family class applications
Priority processing should be given to family class applications received from legal residents of Hong Kong (whether they are currently in Canada or outside of Canada or in the U.S.).
Existing complete family class permanent residence applications under section R10 will be processed on a priority basis while taking into consideration the additional processing guidance outlined in these instructions.
Use the organization ID to track all applications received from Hong Kong nationals.
If a new application is missing supporting documentation (associated fees are required) due to COVID-19 circumstances, the Centralized Intake Office (CIO) or Case Processing Centre in Mississauga (CPC-M) may promote the application, and it can be reviewed in 90 days. Officers should associate the organization ID to track all applications received from Hong Kong nationals.
Applications found to be incomplete with no explanation provided, or for reasons unrelated to the disruption of services associated with impacts of COVID-19, may be rejected as per section R10, and all fees associated with the application should be refunded to the applicant. The reason for rejection should be unrelated to the disruption of services.
Officers should consult the current Permanent residence: COVID-19 program delivery instructions for more information on processing applications that have been affected by the disruption in services as a result of COVID-19.
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