What is an Open Work Permit?

An open work permit is not specific to the employer or the job. The holder of this permit can work for almost any Canadian employer, without obtaining a confirmed employment offer first.

What is an Open Work Permit for Spouses?

You may be eligible to apply for an open work permit if your spouse or common-law partner sponsors you for Canadian permanent residence. To apply for this, you, as a foreign national, need to apply for spousal sponsorship within Canada via its inland spousal sponsorship process. You should also meet the eligibility criteria that the program requires.

Who Can Apply for an Open Work Permit?

Under the Canadian immigration regulations, the foreign spouses and common-law partners of temporary foreign workers and foreign students are allowed to work in Canada by applying for an open work permit.

The general policy also indicates that if skilled workers, foreign students, and international students upon having graduated from a Canadian post-secondary institution and meeting certain requirements as the principal applicant, can grant a chance to their spouses or common-law partners to apply for an open work permit.

What Are the Types of Work Permits Issued?

Two kinds of open work permits exist.

  • The unrestricted open work permit allows a foreign national to work in any job, in any place and for any employer.
    If you are an eligible worker, you will receive an unrestricted open work permit once you pass your medical exam. These permits are also given to eligible workers who:
    • Have failed the medical exam AND
    • Either have no other means of support or belong to specific permanent resident applicant groups residing in Canada..
  • The occupation-restricted open work permit allows you to work for any employer but the kind of job will be specified.

The restrictions under the occupation-restricted open work permits are present because the eligible worker has failed to finish a medical exam. That is why these work permit holders usually cannot work in healthcare and other related jobs.

Furthermore, if you are an eligible worker carrying an occupation-restricted open work permit and you belong to a country without the requirement of a complete medical exam when entering Canada, you are not allowed to work in:

  • Childcare
  • Primary or secondary school teaching
  • Health services

Open Work Permit Requirements, Conditions & Timeline

As a spouse or common-law partner of a skilled worker, your application may be eligible if your partner:

  • Holds a work permit that will remain valid for a period of at least 6 months
  • Is an employee of a job profile that matches the Skill Level 0, A or B of the National Occupational Classification (NOC)
  • Resides or expects to reside in Canada while being employed

Open work permits for spouses and common-law partners generally carry a validity date upon issuance. This date ideally coincides with the time period during which their spouse is allowed to work or study in Canada, as per their individual case.
The conditions will be directly written on your work permit. Some of them include:

  • The type of work you are allowed to do
  • The employer that you are allowed to work for
  • The places you are allowed to work at or
  • The duration of your work
Depending on the application type that you submit, the processing time may vary. You can obtain the information on the processing time online for your application that is either submitted inside or outside of Canada. Note that this information is frequently updated so you need to constantly keep checking it.

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