Canada became the second most popular destination after Britain for Hong Kong students going overseas for higher education.
Britain tops the list of popular choices, followed by Australia, the United States and Canada in that order.
With the introduction of two permanent residence programs for Hong Kong residents last year, Canada leapfrogged over Australia and the United States.
As many as 6,365 Hongkongers were granted student visas there, leaving behind the 6,511 student visas issued by Britain.
Earlier, Canada used to be the least popular country for the Hong Kong residents as only around 2,500 were granted Canadian student visas each year from 2018 to 2020, making up about a fifth of the total student visas issued by the four countries.
The landscape was reshaped after Britain, Canada and Australia announced easier immigration pathways for Hong Kong residents following Beijing's imposition of the national security law in June 2020, banning acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
Canada's terms were easier, as Hongkongers only needed to complete a two-year diploma course at designated postsecondary learning institutes before applying for permanent residence, while, for Australia, Hong Kong residents need to remain there for three to four years after graduating before applying for permanent residence.
Australia issued around 11 per cent more student visas from January to March this year, compared to the same period in 2019, months before the outbreak of social unrest in Hong Kong.
It also issued 124 dependent visas from last November to March, up from around 50 in previous years, before it announced details of the new immigration pathways. (ANI)