Spouses of Open Work Permit holders are now eligible to apply for Open Work Permits

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Immigration minister Sean Fraser announced on Dec 2nd, 2022 that Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will expand the eligibility of Open Work Permits (OWP) to the spouses of OWP holders.

 What are Open Work Permits?

Work permits allow foreign nationals (i.e.: individuals who are neither citizens nor permanent residents of Canada) to work in Canada. OWPs on the other hand allow foreign nationals to legally work in Canada for any employer and in any job.

 New changes to OWP eligibility

Spouses of international students, and Canadian permanent residents and citizens had already been afforded the ability to be sponsored by their spouse for an OWP; however, the eligibility expansion, for spouses of current OWP holders, is telling of Canada’s willingness to receive more newcomers.

 IRCC is expecting more than 100,000 new work permit applications from spouses of existing OWP holders as a result of this policy change.

The program is expected to be implemented at the start of 2023 in three phases:

  • High-wage stream—For spouses of higher paid workers who hold an open work permit (eg: spouses of Post Graduate Work Permit holders).;
  • Provinces and territories stream—For spouses of lower wage workers (e.g.: OWP holders under the International Experience Canada program, which recently saw an increase in program size); and
  • Families of agriculture workers—This phase would specifically deal with families of seasonal agriculture workers, a key stream of employment that Canada is trying to expand as part of its economic recovery.

 Though IRCC is keen to implement these changes to aid economic recovery, these dates remain tentative.

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