The announcement of Beijing’s new security law has put many Hong Kongers with dual citizenship in a panic to search for a safe haven for family members who are not Canadian citizens.
Richmond immigration consultant Ken Tin Lok Wong said the number of Hong Kongers interested in immigrating to Canada with their immediate family members has definitely increased since last year at this time when demonstrations in the region were rampant.
“What I have been receiving as of late, are those who are Canadians residing in Hong Kong (dual citizens) who are looking to immigrate to Canada as a result of the new Beijing Security Law,” said Wong.
“Most of (those asking for information) are young families with young kids… Obviously, they want to go somewhere that their kids can have a better future.”
The new law – introduced on June 30 by mainland China’s parliament and added to Hong Kong’s mini-constitution – can apply to anyone regardless of where the “offense” occurs or who commits it.
Under this law, slogans such as “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time,” which has been used throughout the protests are now illegal and punishable with as much as life in prison. Those in Hong Kong who are suspected of breaking the law can be “wire-tapped and put under surveillance” as well.
Canadian citizens who are living abroad can return to Canada whenever they want as long as they pay their taxes upon arrival, however, permanent residents of Canada will need to review their statuses prior to entering the country, according to Wong.
Wong told the Richmond News that there is “no tangible leeway” for Hong Kongers coming to Canada at this time, especially with COVID-19 travel restrictions.
The government, said Wong, would be at risk of huge criticism if the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) shortened the immigration queue for Hong Kongers right now.
“I think the system is very robust and (the IRCC) wouldn’t want to give the impression that the government is favouring a particular passport holder,” said Wong.
However, that could change, he noted.
Richard Kurland, a Vancouver-based immigration lawyer, has also seen an uptick in inquiries from people with dual citizenship living in Hong Kong -- especially those with young children.
“I don’t see an immediate danger in Hong Kong … but there will definitely be an absorption of operational details and enforcement of the Beijing security law,” said Kurland.
Kurland also noted that the immigration process, which is not quick at the best of times, will be even longer due to COVID and increased interest.
That said, both Wong and Kurland believe the Canadian government may announce special measures for people of Hong Kong in the future.
“They may be holding it back waiting for a specific time, but I suspect Canada will provide facilitated selection and eligibility for people with Hong Kong ties or people from Hong Kong with strong family ties in Canada,” said Kurland.
-with files from Kirsten Clarke