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:

For reference, see applicant instructions: How do I get priority processing if I’m a resident of Hong Kong?

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Under these facilitative measures, the following clients may be eligible as a principal applicant or an accompanying dependant:

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

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

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 applicants

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 an HKSAR passport and, therefore, cannot be used to apply for an eTA or for any other application.

Priority processing instructions:

Family reunification

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.

Learn more: Travel restriction measures: COVID-19 program delivery


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 an 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:

Eligibility requirements for work permits


For post-secondary studies, the applicant must hold either a

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

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 of 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.

Mandatory documents

“Not applicable” documents

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.

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 2021 season, which opened on March 3, 2021, 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

Police certificates

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

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 applications

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.

New applications

If a new application is missing supporting documentation (associated fees are required) due to COVID-19 circumstances, the Centralized Intake Office or CPC 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 of services as a result of COVID-19.

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