What is the change? A pilot program to provide open work permits to spouses and common-law partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents while their applications for permanent residence are pending has been extended by one year.

What does the change mean? Spouses or common-law partners with pending permanent residence applications in the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada (SCLPC) class may apply for open work permits through Dec. 22, 2016.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Open work permits.
  • Who is affected: Spouses and common-law partners of Canadian citizens or permanent residents whose applications for permanent residence under the SCLPC class are pending.
  • Impact on processing times: Applications take about four months to process.
  • Business impact: The extension of the program will allow spouses and common-law partners to begin working sooner than if they had to wait for “approval in principle” of their applications for permanent residence.
  • Next steps: Application processes vary depending on whether the applicant has already submitted an application for permanent residence, intends to submit and open work permit application at the same time as a permanent residence application, has already received approval in principle on a permanent residence application, or is applying for an open work permit renewal. Consult Citizenship and Immigration Canada or your BAL attorney for case-specific application procedures.

Background: Canada launched the program to provide spouses and common-law partners open work permits in December 2014. Before the program, spouses and common-law partners had to wait as long as 16 months for approval in principle of their residency applications before they could apply for work permits. The program allows spouses and common-law partners to begin working much sooner because wait times for open work permits are significantly shorter. CIC announced on Dec. 11 that the program would be extended for a year. In order to be eligible, applicants must be a spouse or common-law partner who is being sponsored under the SCLPC class. The applicant must have a valid temporary status as a visitor, student or worker and must live at the same address in Canada as their sponsor.

BAL Analysis: The extension of the program benefits spouses and common-law partners who want to work in Canada while their permanent residence applications are pending. The shorter waiting periods may make it easier for Canadian employers to retain highly skilled employees.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Canada. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

Copyright © 2016 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact