Canada’s relaxed immigration pathway has seen nearly 14,500 apply to work or study there as a step towards obtaining permanent residence (PR).
Canadian applications has helped raise to almost 100,000 the total who left or applied to go to the two countries in the first nine months of last year.
A record 38,167 Hongkongers also applied to police last year for certificates of no criminal conviction (CNCC), a requirement for emigration to Canada, the United States and Australia.
Canada’s immigration authority, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), told the Post the country’s Hong Kong Pathway programme received 9,110 applications in the first nine months of last year.
The scheme, providing work permits valid for up to three years and leading to PR there, was announced last February. To qualify for PR, applicants must work full-time in Canada for at least one year, or chalk up 1,560 hours in total. IRCC said 698 of the work permit applications were either refused or withdrawn, but gave no details.
Elmer Ho Ngai-heng, director of Hire Nation Consultants, a Hong Kong firm helping people who want to work in Canada, said most jobs available for Hongkongers applying through the new immigration schemes were “lower class” jobs.
“Around half the Hongkongers, particularly the young, refuse to take up blue-collar jobs such as working in fast food shops or as hotel door attendants,” he said. “Instead, the middle-aged are more willing to accept such jobs, as they just want to obtain citizenship for the whole family in the shortest time.”
He knew of a 50-year-old, with a master’s degree and holding a senior position in Hong Kong, who accepted a job as a cashier in a fast-food restaurant in Canada, all for the sake of his two children in secondary school.
Willis Fu Yiu-wai, of Goldmax Associates, expected interest in emigration to continue, especially among those aged 23 to 40.
“The political climate and the recent closure of Stand News may have affected some Hongkongers, the trend of emigration will continue,” he said.