Canada’s new open work permit
In a bid to simplify the process of bringing families together and address labor shortages in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada has unveiled a series of measures. These measures include the introduction of a new open work permit specifically for spousal and family class applicants. The announcement was made by Sean Fraser, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, who also highlighted faster processing times for temporary resident visas (TRV) and more considerate application measures to expedite family reunification.
Faster Processing for Spousal Applicants:
One of the significant changes implemented is the faster processing of temporary resident visas for spousal applicants. Going forward, most spousal applications will be processed within 30 days, allowing families to be together sooner while they await the finalization of their permanent residence applications. Additionally, new and dedicated processing tools will be introduced specifically for spousal TRV applicants, streamlining the application process and improving efficiency.
Introducing the Open Work Permit:
Among the key measures is the introduction of a new open work permit exclusively for spousal and family class applicants. This means that spouses, partners, and dependents who reside with their sponsor in Canada and possess temporary resident status can now apply for an open work permit as soon as they submit a complete permanent residence application under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class (SPCLC) or other family class programs. This initiative aims to provide greater flexibility and opportunities for families while their permanent residence applications are being processed.
Extension of Open Work Permits:
To further support individuals holding open work permits, including spousal applicants, the Canadian government has introduced an extension option. Those whose open work permits are set to expire between August 1 and the end of 2023 will be eligible for an 18-month extension. This extension opportunity also applies to individuals with expiring post-graduation work permits. By granting these extensions, Canada aims to provide stability and continuity for individuals awaiting permanent residence decisions.
Improved Processing and Services:
The Canadian government has been diligently working on improving client services and expediting application processing. In 2022 alone, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) finalized over 5.2 million applications across various lines of business. These efforts resulted in millions of people receiving timely decisions on their cases.
Furthermore, as part of ongoing enhancements, the IRCC has implemented a service standard for processing new spousal sponsorship applications. Since July 2022, applicants can expect their cases to be processed within 12 months for 80% of non-Quebec applications. This commitment to efficiency and timely processing ensures that families are reunited as quickly as possible.
Eligibility for Open Work Permit Extensions :
While open work permits are available to foreign nationals in different situations, not all will qualify for an extension through the expedited processing mechanism. The extension option is specifically offered to the following individuals:
- Permanent residence applicants awaiting a decision on their application and their spouses.
- Family class-sponsored spouses with valid temporary resident status and their dependent children.
- Spouses and common-law partners of most work permit holders and their dependent children.
The aim of these extensions is to provide individuals and their families with an extended period of authorized work in Canada, offering stability and continued opportunities.
Canada’s recent announcement of a new open work permit for spousal and family class applicants demonstrates its commitment to facilitating family reunification and addressing labor shortages. The introduction of faster processing times, dedicated tools for spousal applicants, and open work permit extensions offers greater flexibility and support for individuals awaiting permanent residence decisions. By streamlining processes and enhancing client services, Canada continues to prioritize the well-being and unity of families while contributing