Canada: Open Work Permit Pilot for Spouses, Partners Extended

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By Peter Menyasz

Canada has extended through Jan. 31, 2019, an immigration pilot program making it easier for employers to hire spouses and partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents by reducing the waiting period for work permits by about eight months, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada announced in a Dec. 15 notice.

“This ensures applicants are able to work, provide for their families, and contribute to the Canadian economy while waiting for their applications to be processed,” the department said. “We recognize that when families can live and work together, their integration outcomes are improved.”

Eight Months Sooner

Under the Open Work Permit Pilot Program, immigration officers will issue open work permits if permanent residency has been applied for under the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class and the applicant has valid temporary resident status and is sponsored by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who lives at the same address.

“Before the program, spouses and partners had to wait for approval-in-principle of their residency applications before they could apply for work permits,” Vancouver-based Bal Immigration Services Inc. said in an analysis of the program. Open work permits take only about four months to process, while approval of permanent residency applications can take up to 12 months.

The pilot program isn't open to foreign nationals who have been refused permanent residence or withdrawn their application for permanent residence before applying for the work permit, don't have valid temporary resident status, have applied for status under the overseas family immigration class, or apply for the work permit at a port of entry.

The pilot program was launched in December 2014 and previously renewed each December for a further one-year period.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Menyasz in Ottawa at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at

For More Information

The government notice is available here, background information on the Open Work Permit Pilot Program here.

For more information on Canadian HR law and regulation, see the Canada primer.

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