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Ask Tito Mike by Michael Scott  

Open Work Permit Pilot for SCLPC extended

by Michael Scott

There are many applicants and sponsors who do not fully understand the time it takes regulatory changes to be completed. A case in point is the Open Work Permit Pilot program for spouses and common law partners in Canada class (SCLPC). On December 22, 2014 the immigration department introduced a temporary measure to allow SCLPC members to apply for an open work permit under a pilot program until changes were made to the Act or Regulations. The pilot was set to expire at the end of July 2020 but it has now been extended without any set expiration date. The departmental bulletin reads: “The pilot program has been extended until the regulatory changes have been completed to permanently implement this policy.”

The question is no longer when the pilot will expire (it does not) but whether or not you or someone you know is eligible to apply for an open work permit as the sponsored spouse or common law partner of a Canadian sponsor, citizen or permanent resident. In order to be eligible for an open work permit, the bulletin stipulates that applicants need to meet the following requirements:

  • Must submit or have submitted an application for permanent residence under the Spousal or Common law Partner inside Canada class;
  • The sponsor who submits or submitted the application must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident;
  • The SCLPC applicant and sponsor must reside at the same address; and
  • The SCLPC applicant must have valid temporary resident status or has applied for restoration of status and the officer is satisfied that the applicant is eligible for restoration.

The following foreign nationals do not qualify for the open work permit pilot program:

  • Applicants who have applied for permanent residence under the SCLPC who have been refused or who have withdrawn that application;
  • Applicants who have applied for permanent residence under the spousal public policy who did not have valid temporary resident status and were beyond restoration (90 days). These applicants must wait for approval in principle to be eligible to apply for an open work permit;
  • Applicants who have applied as members of the overseas family class, including those living in Canada; and
  • Applicants applying for the work permit pilot at a port of entry.

It is important to note that if there is information that an applicant may be inadmissible, their application for an open work permit will be placed on hold pending a final decision on their permanent resident application or inadmissibility.

The federal bulletin also provides functional guidance on the coding required for the open work permit application under SCLPC class. The Case type: “27”; Special Program Code is “SPO” (sponsored spouse or partner); Province of Destination: “Unknown” or “Open”; LMIA – Exemption Code: “A70”; NOC code: “9999”; Intended Occupation: “Open”; and Duration: maximum of two years or until the date the SCLPC applicant’s passport expires, whichever is earliest.

The indeterminate change (no date) underlines the department of Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada’s strong support to family reunification, which remains a core immigration priority and one of the objectives of the Act: “To see that families are reunited in Canada,” IRPA s.3(1)(d).

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