What is an open work permit?

Unlike closed work permits, which limit a person to one employer, open work permits give foreign nationals the right to legally reside anywhere in Canada and work for any employer. Working in Canada with an open work permit exempts you from some of the requirements associated with other temporary work permits, such as: Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). Additionally, a job offer does not have to be present to apply for a job.

Benefits of an open work permit for spouses In the short term, an open work permit can allow your partner to enter the Canadian labor market, reducing the financial burden on your family while IRCC processes their permanent residence application. Additionally, open work permits allow couples to live together while awaiting a decision from IRCC. Without some form of temporary work authorization, the foreign national is much less likely to be allowed to remain in Canada throughout the process.

Working in Canada while waiting for permanent residence allows a person to improve their language skills, gain Canadian work experience, and build professional and social networks. These are all factors that can benefit someone when applying for permanent residence. The validity period of the SOWP depends on when the main applicant’s work permit expires. For example, if you are in Canada on a Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP), when your PGWP expires, your partner’s SOWP will no longer be valid. The same logic applies to all other types of temporary residence.

Eligibility for a SOWP

In order to get a spousal open work permit, there are certain criteria that must be met.

  • A spousal/common-law partner sponsorship application for permanent residence is submitted.
  • The applicant must have valid temporary resident status as a visitor, student or worker.
  • The applicant and sponsor must meet all eligibility criteria for the spousal/common-law partner sponsorship.

Specifically, the sponsored person must already be in Canada and live with their partner. Applicants who have applied for spousal sponsorship but reside outside of Canada are not eligible. how to apply A foreign spouse or partner may apply for the SOWP at the same time or at any time after applying for permanent residence through the Spousal Sponsorship Program. Once your partner has received IRCC’s notification that they are eligible for permanent residence, or ‘approval in principle’, they can apply for the SOWP online. Approved basically means they meet the eligibility criteria but have not passed any medical, security or background checks.

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