Ottawa is launching a new pathway this week to allow Hong Kong residents to work in Canada for up to three years.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino announced on Thursday the new open work permits, which will start Feb. 8.

"The launch of the Hong Kong immigration pathway is a historic initiative that will attract young, talented and experienced graduates who will help to drive Canada's economy forward," says Mendicino.

"With flexible open work permits and a fast-track to permanent residency, skilled Hong Kong residents will have a unique opportunity to develop their careers and help accelerate Canada's economic recovery."

Hong Kong residents who have graduated with a Canadian post-secondary diploma or degree in the last five years or hold an equivalent foreign credential can apply for the new open work permits which last up to three years.

The qualifying post-secondary diploma programs must be a minimum of two years.

Hong Kong residents currently in Canada temporarily, including visitors, students and workers, can apply online from within Canada.

Those applying from abroad remain subject to current travel restrictions and may not be able to come to Canada at this time, unless they have a job offer or meet a travel exemption and comply with all public health requirements.

The federal government is promising to provide more details about the program on the immigration department's website on the launch date.

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