OTTAWA: Canada said on Thursday (Feb 4) that Hong Kong graduates of Canadian universities could apply for a new category of three-year work permit next week and expressed fresh concern about China's clampdown on the former British territory.
The announcement marks the latest step in Canada's campaign to help Hong Kong after China imposed a new national security law in late June 2020, aimed at anything Beijing regards as subversion, secession or terrorism. About 300,000 Canadian passport holders live in the city.
Under the new visa rules, unveiled last November, any Hong Kong resident who has graduated from a Canadian university in the past five years can apply to work for up to three years. Those with equivalent foreign credentials are also eligible.
Visa recipients will also be offered a way to transition more easily to permanent residency.
"Canada continues to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Hong Kong, and is deeply concerned about the new National Security Law and the deteriorating human rights situation there," the government said in a statement.
After China imposed the law, Ottawa moved quickly to suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and banned the export of sensitive military items.
Hong Kong residents currently in Canada temporarily, including visitors, students and workers, can apply online for the visas. Eligible spouses or common-law partners, as well as dependent children, can also apply for a study or work permit.
The measures apply to residents who hold a Hong Kong special administrative region or a British National Overseas passport, created under British law in 1987 that specifically relates to Hong Kong. China and Hong Kong say they no longer recognise the BNO passport as a valid travel document.