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.
Important: The LMIA exemption code associated with this work permit category has changed.
Please see Labour market impact assessment (LMIA) exemption codes – International Mobility Program for the correct codes
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
On this page
- Fee waivers and exemptions
- Temporary residence processing
- Police certificates
- Permanent residence
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
In these instructions, residents of Hong Kong are defined under paragraphs R190(2)(d) and (e) as foreign nationals who hold a passport issued by
- 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
Fee exemptions for in Canada applications to extend status as a temporary resident, worker or student will no longer apply as of March 31, 2023.
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). All other applicable fees must be paid.
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.
Temporary residence processing
Holders of HKSAR passports are visa-exempt and may apply for an electronic travel authorization (eTA) to come to Canada. The Hong Kong Document of Identity cannot be used in place of an HKSAR passport and, therefore, cannot be used to apply for an eTA or for any other application.
Processing networks should prioritize the processing of temporary residence applications from immediate and extended family members 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.
The Hong Kong open work permit public policy has been extended for another 2 years until February 7, 2025, for foreign nationals who hold either an HKSAR or BNO passport, which exempts 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
As of February 8, 2023, the educational credential must have been obtained in the 10 years immediately preceding the submission of an application. Applications received as of May 17, 2021, that have not been finalized are eligible under this change.
For post-secondary studies, the applicant must hold either a
- degree (for example, associate, bachelor, master, doctorate) from a post-secondary designated learning institute (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 Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to confirm Canadian equivalency.
- The program of study must be at least 2 years in duration.
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 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 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 the fall of 2021, then their post-secondary degree or diploma must have been obtained between the fall of 2016 and the summer of 2021.
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. Clients are 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. Applicants are also eligible to extend their initial open work permit issued under the Hong Kong open work permit public policy for another 3 years.
For in-Canada work permit extension applications, a copy of the CV or resume is not required.
Work permit issuance in GCMS
Under the “Application” screen, officers must enter the following:
- Case type: 20
- Exemption code: R01 (A25.2 Public policy)
- For applications made inside Canada, use LMIA exemption code R01.
- For applications made outside Canada, use LMIA exemption code R02.
- Employer name: Open
- Intended occupation: Open
- National Occupation Classification (NOC): 99999
- Validity: Up to 3 years as per applicant’s request
- Fee exemption codes:
- In-Canada applicants: Work permit extension fee waiver: 999
- All applicants: Open work permit holder fee: P03
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 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 2023 season, which opened on January 9, 2023, 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
- proof of adequate health-care coverage for the length of work permit
- See Travel or health-care insurance for further information.
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.
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.
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