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Spouses Awaiting Immigration to Canada take Advantage of Open Work Permit Pilot Program

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In December of last year, reported that Canada was piloting a new program whereby certain spouses and common-law partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents in the Spouses or Common-Law Partners in Canada Class (SCLPC) could obtain open work permits while their application for permanent residence through the inland sponsorship category of the SCLPC is undergoing processing.

An open work permit allows an applicant to work for any Canadian employer for a specified period of time while his or her application for permanent residence is processed. Over recent months, many applicants for Canadian immigration have taken advantage of this new opportunity. In effect, the pilot program has ensured that applicants don’t have to choose between being able to work and being with their partner and children, if applicable. This pilot program also allows the applicants to receive provincial health coverage while awaiting permanent residence in Canada.

How it works

If an SCLPC applicant has already received approval in principle on an application made before December 22, 2014, he or she then has the option of applying for an open work permit online. New SCLPC applicants should complete an application for permanent residence and an open work permit application simultaneously. Standard medical requirements for open work permits apply. Applicants may see their open work permit applications processed within four months.​

“This pilot program has allowed many residents-to-be to provide for their families and contribute to Canada’s economy at the same time, giving them an opportunity to enter the Canadian labour market and society,” says Attorney David Cohen.

“In spite of that, many existing and potential applicants for inland spousal sponsorship remain unaware of the opportunity to begin working in Canada while the application is in process. Initial news of the pilot program may have slipped under the radar in the run-up to Christmas and New Year, which is understandable.

“When the program was launched a few months ago, I anticipated that it would be a success because it is a win-win for all parties – for the applicant, his or her family and partner, local communities, and the Canadian economy. I hope that more applicants for inland spousal sponsorship become aware of it and that the government extends it beyond its initial 12-month mandate.”

To find out more or to make an enquiry about this pilot program, please contact the CanadaVisa work permit team at

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