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NEW Sponsored Spouses, Common-Law Partners and Dependent Children now eligible for Open Work Permit

Updated: Mar 6

A group of people walking on a Canadian beach at sunset.

Who: Spouses, Common-Law Partners, Conjugal Partners of Canadian citizens or Permanent

Residents, and Accompanying Dependent Children of the Principal Applicant

When: In Force May 10, 2023

What: Eligible for an Open Work Permit to work anywhere in Canada

Prior to May 10, 2023, only the spouses of Canadians and permanent residents applying under the Spouse and Common-Law Partner in Canada Class (SCLPC) were eligible to apply for an open work permit.

As of May 10, 2023, both SCLPC and Family Class applicants are eligible to apply for an open work permit.

In order to be eligible and apply for an open work permit you must:

  1. Be the spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident OR be an accompanying dependent child of the principal applicant in a sponsorship application;

  2. Be living in Canada at the same residential address as your sponsor;

  3. Have valid temporary status in Canada OR be eligible for AND have applied for restoration;

  4. Have submitted an application for permanent residence under the SCLPC or as a spouse, common-law partner, or conjugal partner under the Family Class;

  5. Have received an Acknowledgement of Receipt (AOR) letter from IRCC confirming receipt of your application (also an indication that the file has been found to have passed the initial completeness check);

  6. Include proof you are in a genuine relationship with your sponsor;

  7. For dependent children, upload a copy of the IMM 0008 form for the application for permanent residence, where the principal applicant listed the name(s) of their family member(s);

  8. In the Family Information form (IMM 5707) part of the document checklist, upload

    1. the Family Information form and

    2. your marriage licence or certificate or the Statutory Declaration of Common-Law Union (IMM 5409)

    3. the birth certificates of your dependent children that show both parents’ names

  9. Include the Acknowledgement of Receipt (AOR) letter received from IRCC;

  10. Include proof that you have valid temporary status in Canada or that you have applied for restoration;

  11. Include proof that you are living with the sponsor in Canada;

  12. On the application form:

    1. Select "Open Work Permit"

    2. Enter “SCLPC – FC OWP” in the Job title box.

    3. Enter “SCLPC – FC applicant in Canada public policy” in the Brief description of duties box.

    4. Read the guide to find out how to fill out the rest of the form

  13. Pay the work permit fee ($155) and open work permit fee ($100); and

  14. Submit the application online using the IRCC Secure Account or IRCC Authorized Representative Portal.

On December 7, 2023, IRCC "clarified" the instructions relating to this public policy. They added the following "clarifications":

  • These open work permit applications can only be made online and not at a port of entry

  • The requirements, including the requirement to be "physically in Canada" must be met at the time of decision on the application, instead of at the time of application submission.

    • This is hugely problematic as applicants do not know when their open work permit applications will be decided, so this change effectively means they cannot leave Canada between the date they submit their work permit application and the date a decision is made on the application.

  • Work permit applications submitted through the Permanent Residence Portal will not be accepted. Applications must be submitted online unless applicants qualify for one of the exemptions to apply by mail.

  • Though applicants are not permitted to apply without including the Acknowledgement of Receipt of their application for permanent residence, an exemption will be made for applicants whose work permit, study permit, or temporary resident status expires in two (2) weeks or less, and who include proof of the expiring document with their application.

You cannot submit this application via the IRCC Permanent Resident Portal. You cannot apply and are not eligible if your application for permanent residence is refused, returned or withdrawn.

If you do not have valid temporary status in Canada, you may still be eligible for an open work permit under a different public policy. If you do not have temporary status in Canada, you should consult with an immigration lawyer before submitting your application.

In order to apply you will need to prove you have valid temporary status in Canada. This may require that you ask CBSA for an entry stamp or a Visitor Record when you first enter Canada. Consult with an immigration lawyer about dual intent before attempting to enter Canada with a permanent residence application in process.

Applicants who are applying as conjugal partners should consider whether being in Canada with their spouse or common-law partner makes them ineligible for the class of application under which they applied. If you are applying as a conjugal partner, consult an immigration lawyer before moving to Canada and applying for this type of work permit.

*December 7, 2023

We are able to assist and advise on applying for an open work permit under this new policy.



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