What Is An Open Work Permit?

Are you a foreign national wishing to work in Canada? You must obtain proper authorization in the form of a valid work permit. Although, you should note that there are certain exemptions to the work permit requirements.

What is a work permit? It is a legal document that permits a foreigner to be duly employed while staying in Canada. An open work permit is simply a work permit that is not tied to a single employer or location which implies that as a holder, you may work for different employers in different locations in Canada.

Invariably, it means that with a valid open work permit, you can come to Canada without having a specific job offer.

Due to the nature of the work permit (non-job specific), you are not required to provide some of the requirements as required of individuals with other work permits which includes Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or proof of an employment offer from an employee who already paid compliant fees.

However, you should note that some open work permits are accompanied by extra requirements or restrictions which must be adhered to by foreigners.

You can obtain a work permit through the following immigration programs:

  • Post-Graduation Work Permits (PGWP)
  • International Experience Canada (IEC)
  • Inland Spousal or Common-Law Sponsorship
  • Bridging Open Work Permits (BOWP)

Who Can Obtain An Open Work Permit?

Requirements needed in order to be eligible vary and it also depends on which of the conditions a foreign national meets.

To be eligible to obtain an open work permit, there are certain circumstances you may be in to qualify for an open work permit. Aside from the conditions listed below, there are other qualifications for an individual to obtain an open work permit.

  • Permanent residence applicants who applied through the inland spousal sponsorship process. If you are a permanent resident applicant and your work position in Canada will expire before your application is granted, you can get a Bridging Open work permit which enables you “bridge” the time from when the previous permit will expire and getting a permanent residence permit without exiting the country.  
  • Family members dependent on the said permanent residence applicants
  • Spouses/common-law partners of temporary foreign workers or foreign students currently studying in Canada. Spouses who are not enrolled in full-time studies and common-law partners of certain foreign workers are included 
  • Refugees, refugee claimants whose cases are yet to be heard or decided upon, protected persons, and their relatives
  • Some temporary residents
  • Some young workers participate in special programs through   International Experience Canada (IEC). For this to be possible, you must make sure that your country of origin is an eligible participant in the program and that you meet all the criteria.

Nevertheless, even with an open work permit, foreigners are not permitted to accept employment from the following employers:

  • Employers enlisted as ineligible because they were non-compliant with IRCC regulations
  • Employers usually offering escort services and erotic services such as dance or massage.

Canada Set To Introduce New Open Work Permit For Essential Workers And International Student Graduates

GOOD NEWS! Interestingly, Marco Mendicino, the immigration officer has earlier made it open to the general public that Canada has introduced a new open work permit for essential workers and international student graduates.  

This recent development commences from July 26th. Temporary residents who applied for the just-launched pathway to permanent residence will be qualified for an open work permit while waiting for the approval of their application, they do not have to bother about the expiration of their temporal status.

Previously, immigration applicants were not able to apply for a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP), as Express Entry applicants with almost expired documents can. This is a result of technicalities in Canadian policy. 

 Now, if your present work or study permit expires before Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) grants or denies your application, you can apply for this new work permit.

Moreover, If not for this new work permit, applicants would have no other option other than leaving the country even if they had earlier applied for a program that will guarantee their stay in Canada. Nevertheless, work permits issued as a result of this policy will be valid until December 31, 2022.

As we earlier stated, there are some existing options available to assist keep people in Canada but this recent policy will fill in some of the cracks.

Criteria For Qualification For the New Open Work Permit

For you to be qualified for this new open work permit, you must prove that you:

  • applied below one of the recent permanent residence pathways;
  • were duly employed as at the time of your application;
  • have a valid work permit that will expire within the following four months;
  • have temporary residence status, maintained status, or are qualified to gain back your status as at the time you submitted your open work permit application;
  • are in Canada as at the time you submitted your open work permit application;
  • meet the language criteria of the stream in which you applied as at the time your application was submitted.

Types of Open Work Permits

There are basically two types of open work permits and they are

1. Restricted – This type of open work permit restricts the occupation or location of the holder. This is to say that the holder may have locational restrictions due to the category of applicant they belong to, for instance, a provincial nominee class applicant may be restricted to the location of the province. 

The individual may also have occupational restrictions on the basis of medical status and so on.

2. Unrestricted, which permits foreigners to take up any occupation in any location of their choice.

Advantages Of Obtaining An Open Work Permit

Openwork permits are highly advantageous, if not for anything but for the freedom they give their holders (permitting you as a foreigner to work in any location and for any employer in Canada). This is a very commendable way for foreign nationals to improve their eligibility for Canadian permanent residency. As foreign nationals continue to gather Canadian work experience, they can as well observe their eligibility for the following ways to acquire a permanent residency permit. 

  • Express Entry
    • Federal Skilled Worker (FSW)
    • Federal Skilled Trades (FST)
    • Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
  • Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs)
  • Quebec Immigration

We sincerely hope this article serves as an eye-opener as regards all you need to know about an open work permit ranging from the meaning to who is eligible to apply, the new open work permit and criteria for obtaining it, and finally, the types of open work permits in Canada as well as the benefits as a holder of an open work permit.

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