Canada to introduce new open work permit for essential workers and international student graduates

Shelby Thevenot
Published: July 15, 2021

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino has announced a new open work permit option for essential workers and international student graduates in Canada.

Starting July 26, temporary residents who applied for the newly-launched pathway to permanent residence will be eligible for an open work permit while they wait for a decision on their application.

What this means is those who applied for the new programs will not have to worry about their temporary status expiring. If their current work or study permit expires before Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) approves or denies their application, they can apply for this new work permit.

Get help applying for the new open work permit

Before, these immigration applicants could not apply for a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP), as Express Entry applicants with soon-to-expire documents can. This is due to technicalities in Canadian policy. Express Entry is a permanent program, whereas the new temporary residence to permanent residence (TR to PR) pathways are not.

Without this new open work permit, applicants run the risk of having to leave Canada, even though they already applied for a program that is supposed to help them stay in Canada. The work permits issued under this policy will be valid until December 31, 2022.

“Our new path to permanent residence for 90,000 essential workers and international graduates is a major step forward—the size, speed and scope of which is unprecedented," said Mendicino in a news release. "This new open work permit ensures that those who have been playing critical roles throughout the pandemic can continue their extraordinary service.”

Are you an essential worker or international graduate? Discover if you are eligible for Canada's new immigration program

Although there are some other existing options available to help keep people in Canada, the new policy will fill in some of the cracks. For example, international student graduates can apply for a new Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP), as per the government's temporary measure launched in January. However, this opportunity is closing on July 27. The new pathways are open to applications until November 5, and there is still plenty of room for new applicants in most of the programs. Currently, only the International Graduates stream is full.

How to qualify for the new open work permit

In order to be eligible for this one-time open work permit, applicants must show that they:

  • have applied under one of the new permanent residence pathways;
  • were authorized to work at the time of their application;
  • hold a valid work permit that is set to expire within the next four months;
  • have temporary residence status, maintained status, or are eligible to restore their status at the time their open work permit application is submitted;
  • are in Canada at the time their open work permit application is submitted;
  • were employed in any occupation at the time their permanent residence application was submitted; and
  • meet the language requirements of the stream under which they applied at the time their application was submitted.

The open work permit is also available to the applicant's spouse or common-law partner and dependent children over the age of 18, as long as they are also in Canada.

Also, if you have applied to extend your work permit before your current one has expired, you may be able to maintain your status. This would give you authorization to work without a permit under the same conditions as your original permit, while IRCC processes a new permit.

More details on how to apply for the new open work permit online will be added to IRCC's website on July 26, 2021.

Get help applying for the new open work permit

© CIC News All Rights Reserved. Visit to discover your Canadian immigration options.

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