What is the change? A pilot program that allows spouses and common-law partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents to obtain an open work permit while awaiting permanent residence has been extended through Jan. 31, 2019.

What does the change mean? The program allows spouses and common-law partners to obtain work authorization sooner than if they wait for approval of their permanent residence applications, which can take up to one year.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing until Jan. 31, 2019.
  • Visas/permits affected: Permanent residence under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada (SCLPC) class.
  • Who is affected: Spouses and common-law partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents currently living in Canada at the same address as the sponsor and holding a valid temporary status (visitor, workers, student).
  • Impact on processing times: Open work permits take approximately four months to process.
  • Business impact: The program allows spouses to start work sooner, benefiting companies that hire them.
  • Next steps: Spouses and partners who have received an “approval in principle” of their permanent residence application may apply for an open work permit online; those who have not yet received an approval in principle may apply by mail. Instructions for applying for renewals of an open work permit or filing a new application for an open work permit in tandem with a permanent residence application are available on the Canadian government’s website.

Background: The pilot program was launched in December 2014 and has been extended several times. Before the program, spouses and partners had to wait for an approval-in-principle of their residency applications before they could apply for work permits.

BAL Analysis: The extension of the pilot program is in accordance with the government’s priority of family reunification and enables spouses and partners to begin work sooner, benefiting their families and employers’ ability to hire and retain expatriate workers.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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