Canada Abolishes Education Requirements, Making It Easier for Hong Kong People to Obtain Permanent Resident Card

By Harry McKenny
Harry McKenny
Harry McKenny
and Zhou Xing
Zhou Xing
Zhou Xing
July 15, 2023Updated: July 17, 2023

From Aug. 15, Canada’s special pathway program for Hong Kong immigrants, Stream B (Canadian work experience category), will no longer require any specific education requirements. It means that more Hong Kong people with Canadian work experience will be eligible to apply for permanent residence status, and they are no longer restricted by their past educational pedigree.

“Canada continues to stand with the residents of Hong Kong and supports their freedom and democracy,” the federal immigration department said in a news release Tuesday.

On the same day, Canadian MP Paul Chiang announced the decision on behalf of the Minister of Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) at a press conference in his Markham-Unionville constituency. “Canada has always supported freedom and democracy,” he said.

“Our government continues to expand and extend these immigration programs to make it easier for Hong Kong people to stay in Canada long-term,” he said. After the restriction is relaxed, “more Hong Kong people working in Canada will be eligible to become permanent residents. It will also make the application process easier because proof of academic qualifications is no longer required.”

“Removing the education requirement for Stream B is a win-win situation,” Immigration Minister  Sean Fraser said in an official notice, as it simultaneously helps Canada plug the gaps in its workforce.

On June 30, 2020, The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) implemented the National Security Law in Hong Kong, bringing the mainland’s control mechanism to Hong Kong, causing a mass exodus of Hong Kong people from their homeland.

In June 2021, Canada launched two immigration pathway programs specially designed for Hong Kong residents to help young people from Hong Kong settle down in Canada. But the plan was criticized for targeting primarily educated Hong Kong residents. On July 11, the government announced that it would remove the education requirement stipulated in Stream B.

Hard-Won Results

The decision announced by the government on that day results from more than a year of hard work by the Hong Kong community and its supporters.

Aileen Calverley, co-founder and trustee of Hong Kong Watch, said, “Today’s result belongs to everyone, it belongs to the people of Hong Kong.”

“It turned out really well,” she told The Epoch Times. “It was better than I expected.”

The education requirements for Stream B are as follows: applicants must have completed one of the following credentials in a post-secondary institution in or outside Canada within the past five years:

  • Degree (bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or doctorate).
  • Diploma program of at least two years duration.
  • Postgraduate diploma or certificate program of at least one-year duration.

A work visa program that matches the Stream B immigration program allows Hong Kong people who have graduated from a post-secondary institution in the past five years to obtain a Canadian work permit. They can apply for permanent residence after working in Canada for one year.

On Feb. 6, when the government announced the extension of the special immigration pathways for Hong Kong people, it also announced that it would change the work visa requirement from completing post-secondary education in the past five years to ten so that more people can obtain work visas. However, the five-year limit in the immigration program has not changed.

Ms. Calverley said that many young people are unable to apply for immigration because of the restriction of “graduating within five years.” “We think it’s very unreasonable.”

She said a group of about 500 people in the community had called for the restrictions to be lifted. About 60 Members of Parliament offered help in the process. “We started meeting with the Ministry of Global Affairs in May 2020. There have been more than 30 meetings with Members of Parliament, and there have been five jointly signed letters of appeal.”

Hong Kong People Demand More

Ms. Calverley said that the Hong Kong Police’s Certificate of No Criminal Conviction is a must for immigration applications, but many Hong Kong people cannot obtain this certificate because they have a history of being arrested due to participation in pro-democracy movements.

In Canada, at least a few hundred people cannot obtain the Certificate of No Criminal Conviction from Hong Kong Police, she said. “We also want to fight for the removal of that requirement.”

Regarding this issue, the Canadian government explains that it will treat individual applicants on a case-by-case basis. People charged in Hong Kong under the “Hong Kong National Security Law” will not be automatically deemed unable to enter Canada if they only participated in peaceful protests because these acts are not illegal in Canada.

Immigration Consultant: Hongkongers Should Take Advantage of the Policies

Alfred Wong, a senior Canadian registered immigration consultant, said that the federal government’s decision this time is very lenient, which is rare.

“However, there is sadness behind it. This kind of thing happens only because Hong Kong has gone down completely,” he told The Epoch Times. From Aug. 15, no education certificate is required to apply for immigration; that is, you can make do without a higher education. “Its original intention was not for the primary school graduates, but in reality, it is.”

Mr. Wong said that the government finally decided to open the door wider to solve the immigration obstacles encountered by some Hong Kong people.

He said that according to the new policy, you only need to be a Hong Kong citizen (holding a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport, or BNO passport), legally work in Canada for one year, plus five points in English (CLB5, or CELPIP 5), you can then apply immediately for immigration under Stream B.

The new policy will provide more channels for Hong Kong people to emigrate to Canada. Mr. Wong said that if you cannot get a work permit through the pathways offered by the government, you can still come to Canada to gain that one-year work experience through a working holiday visa, but the number of places in this plan is rather limited. For a married couple, one of them can apply to study in Canada, and the other party can get a work permit to accompany the student. After getting that one-year work experience, he/she can then apply for immigration. The first thing is that the applicant must get five points in English.

The government’s relaxation of policies may be related to the poor result of the related program so far. As of April 30, the special pathways program for Hong Kong only granted 3,122 permanent resident visas, of which 2,358 were from Stream A (those who graduated from Canada), while 764 were from Stream B.

Mr. Wong said the figure is “very disappointing.” “Therefore, even if the government relaxes the requirements, there is still no fear of a flood of immigrants.”

He suggested that Hong Kong people who want to emigrate should seize this opportunity. He said those who can take advantage of the policy should act quickly but not expect Canada’s immigration policy to solve all the individual’s problems immediately.