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Ask Tito Mike by Michael Scott  

Sponsorship inside and outside Canada

Applying for an open work permit

by Michael Scott

Family reunification is a pillar of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). The immigration department (IRCC) has been introducing many new measures to make family stream applications more efficient. The intention of the department is to make it possible for more families to be together. In the month of May 2023 IRCC took yet another step to make things more efficient and helpful for families. Spouses, partners, and dependents of permanent residents, Canadian citizens, temporary workers, and students already in Canada may now be eligible for an Open Work Permit.

Previously the Open Work Permit option was only available to applicants who were applying for permanent residence from inside Canada or those already living inside Canada on a temporary residence permit. The new measure allows those being sponsored from outside Canada to be eligible for an Open Work Permit.

According to IRCC, family members who have valid temporary residence status and the same residential address in Canada as their sponsor are eligible to apply for an Open Work Permit. The IRCC public policy says that officers may issue an open work permit to foreign nationals who meet either one of the following conditions:

  • The foreign national is the principal applicant who has submitted a permanent residence application under the spouse of common-law partner in Canada class and has been accepted for processing by IRCC. • They should have submitted a work permit application for a minimum of two years. • They also should have first applied for permanent residence sponsored by their Canadian citizen or permanent resident spouse or common-law partner. • The applicant must be residing at the same residential address in Canada as their sponsor at the time of their application. • They must ensure that they have valid temporary resident status and are eligible for or have applied for restoration of their status.

The new category of applicants includes those who have been sponsored from abroad and have entered Canada as valid visitors, workers, or students. They can apply for an Open Work Permit when they are inside Canada and residing with their sponsors. This measure is an enhancement of the options open to the applicants who are being sponsored from outside the country. In the past the option of the Open Work Permit was only available to sponsorships inside the country and upon assessment of their in-Canada sponsorship applications. It is now possible for applicants from outside the country to have access to the open work permit in order to further the reunification of the family inside Canada.

The new measure introduced in May by Minister Sean Fraser is part of a series of changes in Family Class immigration. There are number of other measures in place that have been making things better for families and sponsors. These include faster temporary resident visa (TRV) processing times for spousal applicants; Open Work Permit extensions for open permit holders expiring between August 1st and the end of 2023.

The Minister is good for his word. He said IRCC is committed to reuniting families and allowing them to work once they are here. In these actions, Canada is helping newcomers achieve their true potential while strengthening the country’s economy. Reunification is good for families and in turn the country. It is a win-win situation.

Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Immigration Canada and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with Immigration Connexion International Ltd. Contact him at 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail: