An open work permit allows skilled and talented foreign workers to work in Canada for any employer, irrespective of whether a job offer or a labor market impact assessment has been received or not. However, the employment should not be for an employer who has been found non-compliant and is not eligible to appoint temporary workers.
Who can apply for an Open Work Permit?
An open work permit can be restricted or unrestricted, which implies the applicant has to satisfy some location and occupational constraints. Moreover, a person is eligible to apply for an open work permit if he or she belongs to any one of the following categories:
- An international student who has graduated from an authorized educational institute in Canada and can apply for a post graduate work permit.
- A destitute or bankrupt student who cannot pay fees for academics.
- Holders of employee specific work permit who are or might be facing abuse at their current workplace.
- Applicant of permanent residence or dependent of a PR applicant in Canada.
- Spouse or common law partner of an international student or federal skilled worker.
- Member of the family of refugee claimants, protected persons, or refugees.
- Holder of temporary resident permit.
Eligibility Criteria for Open Work Permit
Apart from belonging to any of the above mentioned categories, an applicant of open work permit needs to satisfy below specific eligibility criteria for below given specific situations:
Spouse or Common Law Partner of a Skilled Worker in Canada
He or she must be in a genuine relationship with the primary foreign national and should provide documented evidence of the latter’s current employment and occupation in Canada. The primary foreign national must satisfy below given criteria:
- He or she has a valid employer specific work permit or a non-spousal open work permit under IRCC’s specific sections.
- He or she is employed in a high skilled occupation related to NOC skill levels 0, A, or B or is employed in any occupation as a nominee for the federal provincial territorial agreement.
- He or she can legally work in Canada for at least a period of 6 months once the spousal open work permit is received.
- He or she is physically present or is planning to physically settle in Canada once during employment.
Spouse or Common Law Partner of an International Student in Canada
Individuals who are spouse or common law partner of international students holding study permit and enrolled in full-time studies at Post-Graduation Work Permit eligible educational institutions can apply for spousal open work permit. The Spousal Open Work Permit applications requires the applicants to show the following proofs:
- Proof of being in an authentic marital or common law relationship with the study permit holder.
- Proof of the spouse or common law partner attending a designated learning institution in Canada.
- Proof of the spouse or common law partner being actively engaged in full time studies.
The designated learning institution can be a public post-secondary institution (like a college, university, or a trade or technical school) or a private institution in Canada providing an authorized degree.
The open work permit is issued to the spouse or common law partners with a validity date in accordance with the time period during which the primary applicant is allowed to stay or work in Canada.
Bridging Open Work Permit
The Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP) program allows foreign workers, whose work permit is on the verge of expiry, to continue working in Canada while their permanent residence application is under process. The Bridge Open Work Permit requires applicants to fulfill the following criteria:
Firstly, the candidate should have submitted an application for permanent residence (APR) under any Express Entry class, PNP program, Quebec Skilled Worker class or any other PR program.
Secondly, he or she has received a positive eligibility assessment on submitting an application for permanent residence (APR) through a non express entry program or has completed the section R10 requirements of Immigrants and Refugees Protection Act (which states that a written signed application listing all the requirements and signed by the primary applicant must be submitted).
Thirdly, he or she must be in Canada as an authorized temporary resident and with a valid work permit or has submitted an application to renew their work permit.
Spouse of a BOWP holder can also apply for open work permit provided the principal applicant is in Canada and has work permit in the following categories as per the PR program applied:
- For the Federal Skilled Worker, Canadian Experience Class, and Caregiver programs, the person should have a job in occupation related to NOC skill level 0, A, or B.
- For Provincial Nominee Class, the person can have a job in any occupation.
- For the Federal Skilled Trades program, the person must have a job in occupations related to NOC skill level C.
Occupation Restricted Open Work Permit under Caregiver Program
Applicants of the Caregiver pathway under the Home Child Care Provider or Home Support Worker can apply for an occupation restricted open work permit program provided they have at least 0 to 23 months of work experience in Canada and meets the following eligibility criteria:
- He or she is eligible to apply for permanent residence in Canada through the HCCP or HSW programs.
- He or she must submit their application in the same package as their PR application.
- He or she should have an eligible offer of employment along with the capability to work.
- He or she has paid both the processing fees and holder fees of the work permit.
Post Graduation Work Permit
International students who have graduated from designated learning institutes in a full time study program are eligible to apply for work permits and can even start working before their work permit gets approved. However, for this, the applicant must be holding a valid study permit and be authorized to work off campus for a limited number of hours without any work permit.
The program provides a period of up to 3 years for eligible international students to work in Canada after the end of their studies. The international student can work for any Canadian employer without having any valid Canadian job offer.
Below given requirements are essential for an international student to avail the open work permit service:
- He or she has completed a degree, diploma or certificate from any academic, vocational or professional training program from a designated learning institute, for at least 8 months long.
- He or she has a transcript and an official letter from the eligible designated learning institute confirming authenticity of the applicant’s completion of degree.
- Graduated from any of the following institutions;
- A public post-secondary organization such as a college, trade or technical school, or a university, or CEGEP in Quebec.
- A private post-secondary school (in Quebec) operating under the same rules as the public school.
- A private secondary or post-secondary school (in Quebec) offering qualifying programs of 900 hours or more, issuing any of the following degrees; diplôme d’études professionnelles (DEP) or attestation de spécialisation professionnelle (ASP).
- Canadian private schools which can offer degrees like Associates, Bachelors, Masters, or Doctorate degrees under provincial laws, provided the student was enrolled in that particular study program.
Moreover, the applicants must either have a valid study permit, have previously held a study permit or hold the authority to study in Canada without any study permit.
The international students are not eligible for the PGWP program in the following cases:
- Have been previously issued a PG work permit.
- Received financial aid from Global Affairs Canada (GAC).
- Took part in the Government of Canada Awards Program, sponsored by GAC.
- Has been a member of the Canada China Scholars’ Exchange Program.
- Obtained the Canada-Chile Equal Opportunity scholarship.
- Took part in the Organization of American States Fellowships Program.
- Has been involved in distance learning study during most of their study tenure.
- Completed studies from a non-Canadian institution in Canada, irrespective of the duration of stay.
Spousal Sponsorship Program
Spouses or common law partners of permanent residents or Canadian citizens who are being sponsored by the latter for permanent residence in Canada can apply for an open work permit provided they have an authorized temporary residence status in Canada and are currently awaiting results of their work permit application before starting to work.
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