The Open Work Permit Pilot Program (OWPPP) was initiated on December 22, 2014 by the Government of Canada as part of its core immigration priority for family reunification. The OWPPP was previously extended on December 7, 2016 and was expected to end on December 21, 2017. However, the Canadian Government has further extended the duration for the OWPPP to January 31, 2019. This will give spouses or common-law partners a chance to continue to work in Canada, while waiting for their spousal sponsorship applications to be finalized.
To be eligible under the OWPPP, the spouse or common-law partner must be living in Canada, be sponsored under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner In Canada (SCLPC) Class, have a valid temporary resident status such as a visitor, student or worker, and must live at the same address with the sponsor. That is, the issuance of an open work permit to a spouse or common-law partner, will depend on the following requirements:
- a permanent residence application has been submitted under the SCLPC class and is currently being processed, or has been received, by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for processing
- a Canadian citizen or permanent resident spouse has submitted a sponsorship application on the applicant’s behalf
- the SCLPC class applicant resides at the same address as the sponsor; and
- the SCLPC class applicant has a valid temporary resident status in Canada, which includes a visitor, student or worker, or is eligible to restore his or her temporary resident status, and has submitted the restoration application with the application for permanent residence.
Therefore, a spouse or common-law partner who has already submitted an application for permanent residence but has not yet received approval in principle under the SCLPC class from IRCC or has already received approval in principle on the permanent residence application from IRCC, stating that he or she meets the permanent residence eligibility requirements but has not yet pass the medical, security and background checks for each family member, may be eligible to apply for an open work permit.
With the extension of the OWPPP, the spouse or common-law partner of a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident may submit both the open work permit and spousal sponsorship application at the same time and once approved, a maximum of 2 years will be granted, taking into account, the applicant’s passport expiration date, whichever is the earliest.