Inland Spousal/Common-Law Partner Sponsorship: Open Work Permit Pilot Program

This pilot program allows spouses and common-law partners of Canadians or Permanent Residents to be granted an open work permit while their inland sponsorship application for permanent residence is being processed.

The Spousal Sponsorship program is a subsection of the Family Class immigration category, under which a Canadian or permanent resident (the sponsor) may sponsor his or her spouse or common-law partner (the sponsored person) for Canadian permanent residence. Inland sponsorship is a type of spousal sponsorship available to couples who are already living together in Canada where the spouse/common-law partner has temporary status in Canada, either as a worker, student, or visitor.

IRCC aims to process applications submitted through the Spousal Sponsorship program within 12 months.The Open Work Permit Pilot Program can help to mitigate the economic and emotional hardships of a long application process by removing the need for a spouse to choose between being with his or her partner and being able to work.

The holder of an open work permit can work for any Canadian employer, without first having a confirmed offer of employment. An open work permit is not job-specific. These work permits are valid for two years or until the date that the applicant’s passport expires, whichever comes first.

This pilot program was first introduced for a period of 12 months in December, 2014. It has been extended until December 21, 2017.

Eligibility Criteria

In order to be issued an open work permit, the following criteria must be met:

  1. A permanent residence application must be submitted under the Spousal/Common-Law Partner Sponsorship Immigration Program;
  2. A Canadian citizen or permanent resident spouse/common-law partner has submitted a sponsorship application on their behalf;
  3. The applicant must reside at the same address as the sponsor (spouse/common-law partner);
  4. The applicant must have valid temporary resident status (as a visitor, student, or worker); and
  5. The applicant and the sponsor must meet all eligibility requirements under spousal or common-law partner sponsorship.
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