The pilot that has allowed foreign spouses and common-law partners to work in Canada is going to be a permanent program.
Canada is making the Open Work Permit Pilot (OWPP) a permanent program, so the spouses and common-law partners of Canadians can continue to work while waiting on their permanent resident status.
The program began in December 2014, and was set to expire on July 31 after its most recent extension. Instead of setting another expiry date, Canada is now extending the program until the regulatory changes have been completed to implement the pilot as permanent policy.
The updated webpage from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) said that family reunification is a “core immigration priority for the Government of Canada.”
The OWPP applies to inland spousal and common-law sponsorship applicants. Inland sponsorship is for couples who are already living together in Canada. The partner who is applying for immigration needs to already have temporary status in Canada as either a worker, student, or visitor.
The foreign partners of Canadians can apply for the open work permit any time after they have applied for permanent residence through family-class sponsorship.
Open work permits are not tied to specific employers, meaning that they allow foreign workers to work for any employer in Canada so long as they meet the occupation’s qualifications.
In order to be eligible for an OWPP, immigration candidates need to meet the following requirements:
- submit a permanent residence application under the Spouse Common-Law Partner Class;
- have a Canadian citizen or permanent resident spouse or common-law partner who has submitted a sponsorship application on their behalf;
- live at the same address as their sponsor; and
- have a valid temporary resident status in Canada, or an approved application for restoration status with authorization to work.
People applying under the OWPP can submit the work permit application at the same time as their application for permanent residence.
It is also OK to submit the application for the OWPP separately if applicants have already submitted their application for permanent residence.
If applicants have already received approval in principle on their permanent residence application, they can apply for the OWPP online. Approval in principle means the spouse or partner has received a letter from IRCC stating that they meet the permanent reesidence eligibility requirements, but they have not yet passed the medical, security, and background checks.
People who already have the OWPP must apply to extend their permits before they expire.