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by Sissi Wang

Canada’s Immigration Minister announced new initiatives Thursday for recent graduates and young professionals in Hong Kong seeking to work and live in Canada, and is waiving the one-year waiting period for asylum seekers in response to the situation in Hong Kong.

I’m pleased to announce that we are creating new and expedited immigration pathways for those living in Hong Kong to come to Canada,” said Marco Mendicino, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship.

VO: The new immigration plan focuses on attracting young and educated professionals from Hong Kong to help boost Canada’s economy, rather than the humanitarian basis.

“This initiative will focus on three areas,” Mendicino said.

“First, we will seek to attract and retain recent Hong Kong graduates and workers with much needed skills for our economy. Second, we will prioritize and support existing immigration routes for family members, students and workers. And third, we will introduce several targeted measures to enhance the protections offered by our asylum system.”

Mendicino said Canada will expedite the processing of work permits for recent graduates who wish to come to Canada to work or to continue their study, and will also create two new resident pathways to help young Hong Kongers who are currently living in Canada to apply for permanent residency.

The minister says Canada expects to welcome the first recent HK graduates under this program in early 2021.

“(The) plan is in line with our immigrations levels plan,” Mendicino said.

“It’s about creating jobs. It’s about accelerating our economic recovery, and it’s about driving long-term prosperity by strengthening the ties between the people of Canada and Hong Kong.”

For Hong Kong activists seeking asylum,  Mendicino said that Canada’s asylum program is waiving the one-year waiting program, which means failed asylum claimants from Hong Kong now have a second chance to apply to stay in Canada.

“No one will be disqualified for making a legitimate asylum claim to Canada by sole virtue of having been charged under the new national security law,” Mendicino said.

“And nor will they be hindered from availing themselves under any other immigration route.”