Spousal Open Work Permit Canada
If you are the spouse of a migrant who is working or studying in Canada, the chances are that you want to work, whether part-time or full-time. Thankfully, the Canadian immigration system enables eligible spouses to apply for an ‘open work permit’, subject to specific rules and conditions. In this article, we will explain how a spouse of a migrant who is working or studying in Canada can apply for an open work permit, including the eligibility criteria and conditions which apply.
What Is A Canadian ‘Open Work Permit’?
A Canadian Open Work Permit enables spouses and family members of a migrant working or studying in Canada to work for any employer in Canada. There are some exceptions, however. A spouse with an Open Work Permit cannot work for an employer which is listed as ineligible on the list of employers who have failed to comply with conditions. Beyond these restrictions, a spouse with an Open Work Permit is free to work in any industry sector or role type (assuming they meet the skills and qualifications required for the role), and are not tied to a specific employer (as is the case with an employer-specific work permit).
Am I Eligible to Apply for A Canadian Open Work Permit?
According to the current Canadian immigration rules, you will be able to apply for an Open Work Permit if you are:
- a spouse of a skilled worker in an occupation under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill type 0, A or B approved to work in Canada six months or longer
- a spouse of someone applying for the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program in a job under NOC 0, A, B or C
- a spouse of a foreign student at a public post-secondary school, such as a college or university or collège d’enseignement général et professionnel (CEGEP) in Quebec
- a family member of a foreign representative, or
- a family member of a foreign military member who is working in Canada
In addition, the following individuals may also be eligible for an Open Work Permit in Canada:
- international students who graduated from a designated learning institution and are eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program
- students who are no longer able to meet the costs of their studies (destitute student)
- those with employer-specific work permits and are being abused or at risk of being abused in relation to your job in Canada
- immigrants who have applied for permanent residence in Canada
- dependent family members of someone who applied for permanent residence
- refugees, refugee claimants, protected persons or their family members
- those under an unenforceable removal order
- temporary resident permit holders
- young workers participating in special programs
As such, Open Work Permits are available to a much broader range of immigrants to Canada other than just spouses and family members.
How Do I Apply for A Canadian Open Work Permit?
Assuming that you are currently in Canada, you will be permitted to submit an application for an Open Work Permit on the basis that your spouse, common-law partner or parents have a valid study or work permit. The application process is completed online (the application form is the “Application to Change Conditions, Extend My Stay or Remain in Canada as a Worker [IMM 5710]). You will first need to create an online account on the Canadian Government website. Once registered, you will then be able to fill in the application form and pay your fees (the current fee for an Open Work Permit is $100).
It is important that when completing your work permit application, you select the “Open Work Permit” option as the type of work permit. This is located under the “Details of intended work in Canada” section. Because you are asking for an open permit, you can leave the employer details section blank.
Once your application is submitted, you may receive a letter or email advising you to make an appointment at your local *biometric collection service point, to provide your biometric information. You will also need to pay a biometric collection fee. The Canadian government website states, “If you gave biometrics in the past and they’re still valid, you don’t need to give them again”. * At present, due to COVID-19, the Canadian immigration authorities have implemented an exemption for biometrics; “COVID-19: Changes to biometrics requirement for in-Canada temporary residence applicants. As a temporary measure, if you’re in Canada and applying to work, study or stay temporarily in Canada, you do not need to give your biometrics”.
If your Canadian Open Work Permit is accepted, you will receive your work permit by post (it will be sent to the Canadian correspondence address you provided when applying).
Employer and Labour Standards in Canada
If you are granted an Open Work Permit in Canada, while you will be free to work for any employer (with the exception of the restrictions outlined above), it is important to be aware that there are strict employer and labour standards in Canada, and these vary between provinces and territories. The labour rules define minimum wages, overtime, holidays, vacations, hours of work, rest periods, and days of rest. If you are concerned that a prospective or current employer is not adhering to these rules, then you should contact your local labour or employment standards office.
As a spouse of a migrant worker or student in Canada, you should be able to secure an Open Work Permit with little difficulty, allowing you to work without restriction. If you need any assistance with your application, consider engaging the help of immigration lawyers who will be able to handle the application process on your behalf, allowing you to concentrate on finding suitable work.