More than 500 Hongkongers apply for special Canada visa in first three weeks

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Justin Trudeau’s special immigration initiative for Hong Kong residents received more applications than expected in its first three weeks, according to a spokesman for Canada’s immigration minister.

From February 8 to 28, 503 people applied for a three-year open work permit designed for young, educated individuals from the former British colony.

It also expedites their eligibility to apply for permanent residency to one year.

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced the new visa measures in November as a response to China’s disqualification of lawmakers deemed insufficiently loyal and its crackdown on anti-government protests.

“With many young Hongkongers casting their eyes abroad, we want them to choose Canada. That’s why we’ve made extensive efforts to help them come to Canada,” press secretary Alexander Cohen said by email on Friday.