How to Move to Canada from Hong Kong

Last updated: 12 February 2021

Canadian Immigration Option for Hong Kong Residents

Canada offers special work permit pathways to residents of Hong Kong. In addition, Canada will soon offer Hong Kong residents new immigration pathways.

In total, Canada offers over 100 different immigration options. The Campbell Cohen immigration law firm has over 45 years of experience helping Hong Kong residents achieve their Canadian immigration goals. Please contact us for legal advice.

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Table of Contents


Open Work Permit for Hong Kong Graduates

Hongkongers can now apply for an open work permit. The open work permit is valid for up to 3 years. It offers Hong Kong residents the opportunity to gain Canadian work experience.

To be eligible you must:

  • hold a passport that is valid and issued by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) or the United Kingdom to a British National Overseas (BNO)
  • have graduated within the last 5 years. You must have obtained a university degree OR a diploma from a program of at least 2 years in duration. 

If you completed your education outside of Canada, you will need to obtain an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA). The purpose of the ECA is so that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) can confirm your education is equivalent to a Canadian standard.

IRCC encourages you to make sure that your passport is valid for at least 3 years from the date that you receive an approval from IRCC. If your passport expires in less than 3 years, IRCC will provide you with a work permit that is valid for the same length of time as your passport.

Contact Campbell Cohen to Apply for a Work Permit


Working Holiday Program

Every year, tens of thousands of people from more than 30 countries come to work in Canada under the International Experience Canada (IEC) program. Hong Kong is one of the countries that has a Working Holiday Agreement with Canada, which allows Hong Kong residents with a valid passport to temporarily work in Canada and change jobs and locations once they are in the country. IEC participants from Hong Kong may be issued an open work permit valid for up to 12 months.

To qualify for this immigration pathway, applicants must:

  • hold a valid passport issued by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) or have a valid British National (Overseas) passport;
  • be between the ages of 18 and 30;
  • have a minimum of CAN$2,500 to cover costs in Canada;
  • have health insurance;
  • be admissible to Canada;
  • have a return ticket or demonstrate the ability to purchase a ticket at the end of the authorized stay in Canada.

Those interested in the program must first submit a profile on the government site when the registration period is open. Eligible applicants whose profile is in the pool may then be invited during one of the program's regular invitation rounds.


Economic Immigration Options

Residents of Hong Kong who wish to become permanent residents of Canada can choose from over 100 immigration pathways.

Express Entry is the main pathway to Canadian permanent residence. Express Entry ranks eligible applicants against each other based on human capital factors, and then invites the top-scoring candidates to apply for permanent residence. Candidates from Hong Kong may be well positioned to immigrate to Canada through Express Entry because of their high level of education and English language skills, which are particularly valuable factors on the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The CRS gives candidates points based on their age, education, language skills, work experience as well as other factors.

The second most popular immigration pathway is the Provincial Nominee Program. The PNP allows Canada’s provinces and territories to nominate candidates who wish to immigrate to Canada and reside in a particular province. More than 240,000 people are expected to get Canadian permanent residence through PNPs between now and 2023. Immigrant applicants with specific and sought-after skills, experience in key sectors, or previous Canadian work experience may wish to consider this option, as these factors are often the most important in determining the success of an application.

If you wish to live in Quebec, several other options are available to you. The province of Quebec is responsible for its own immigration programs, including those for skilled workers, and business people.

Spouses, partners and dependent children who are in Canada may be included in applications for permanent residence.

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Business Immigration Options

Hong Kongers with funds to invest in Canada also have several options available that may speed up their immigration process to Canada. Most Canadian provinces have their own business immigration programs for entrepreneurs under which you will be able to invest and operate a business in Canada.

If you are an immigrant with the experience and skills to start a business, have an innovative idea, and are interested in building ties with the private sector in Canada, you may also consider applying under the Start-up Visa Program.


New Immigration Pathways for Hong Kong Residents

Two new pathways to permanent residence for those who have either worked or studied in Canada are expected to be launched in 2021.

The first pathway will be open to former Hong Kong residents who have a minimum of one year of authorized work experience in Canada and who meet other qualifying conditions related to language and education, among other things.

The second pathway will be for graduates of a post-secondary institution in Canada. These individuals will then be able to apply for permanent residence directly.

As is the case with other Canadian immigration programs, under these two streams, principal applicants may also include spouses, partners and dependent children in Canada.


Contact the Campbell Cohen Law Firm for Assistance

Attorney David Cohen has over 45 years of experience in Canadian immigration law and began working in Hong Kong in the 1970s. As the Senior Partner of Campbell Cohen, David leads a team of over 60 Canadian immigration lawyers, paralegals, and other professionals specialized in all areas of Canadian immigration. Please complete this short form to submit your query directly to a Campbell Cohen immigration lawyer: