It is now easier to get a Bridging Open Work Permit in Canada

Shelby Thevenot
Published: November 2, 2021

Canada recently announced changes to the Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP) program that will make it more accessible.

BOWPs are open to eligible work permit holders who have applied for Canadian permanent residence. The point of the BOWP is to allow these workers to keep working in Canada while they wait for Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to make a decision on their permanent residency application.

As per the changes announced in September, there is no longer a limit on when you can apply for the BOWP. Before, you could only apply within four months of your work permit's expiry date.

Get help with Canadian work permits

Also, you may now be eligible if your status has expired and you are eligible to restore your status and get a work permit, or if you are in Canada and maintained your status as a worker. Under the old rules, you were not eligible to apply for the BOWP if your work permit had expired.

In addition to all this, the BOWP has opened to the following types of applicants:

  • Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) applicants if they have a copy of the nomination letter that indicates their employment is unrestricted and they selected "Open Work Permit" on their application form.
  • Agri-Food Pilot applicants if they submit their application online, and provide their approval in principle letter in the "Client Information" field with their application.
  • Quebec skilled workers become eligible after their file passes a completeness check.

The BOWP for Quebec skilled workers and PNP applicants may be valid for 24 months or until their passports expire, whichever comes first. This is to ensure these applicants have enough time in Canada to wait out the processing period.

BOWPs issued to people in other immigration categories will be valid for 12 months.

Spouses of BOWP holders do not automatically get a BOWP. If your spouse wants to work in Canada, they may apply as a spouse of a skilled worker or as a spouse of a full-time student, whichever applies. Spouses of study permit holders may apply for a spousal open work permit if they are eligible for a Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).

Who is eligible for a BOWP?

The point of the BOWP is to allow people who are already in Canada to continue working at their jobs while their permanent residency application is in processing. They do not need a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which is oftentimes required of work permit holders because by virtue of working in Canada they are already providing an economic benefit.

As such, you cannot apply at a port of entry. You have to be applying from within Canada since, in the government's eyes, your presence here is allowing you to be exempt from an LMIA.

If you applied for permanent residency under one of the following programs, you may be eligible for a BOWP:

Spouses and common-law partners of BOWP holders

If your spouse or common-law partner wants to work in Canada while you are here on the BOWP.

They will have to provide additional documentation, which is written on the work permit holder's instructions on the government website.

Also, your BOWP must be valid for a minimum of six months, regardless of which program you applied for.

You must be in Canada, but your partner may be inside or outside the country. If you are both in the country you can submit your applications together, both the application for the BOWP and the one for your spouse, which is called the C41 WP. Your spouse's work permit cannot be issued before yours. So, if they are outside Canada they have to wait until you receive your BOWP before they can apply for the spousal open work permit.

Depending on what program you applied for, there will be different requirements for your spouse. If you applied under the following programs, your spouse may only qualify for a work permit if you work in a skilled occupation, which falls under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill levels 0, A, or B:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program
  • Canadian Experience Class
  • Caregiver applicants before June 18, 2019
  • Agri-Food Pilot

If you are applying under the Quebec Skilled Worker or PNP class, the skill level of your occupation does not matter for your spouse's eligibility.

Federal Skilled Trades applicants, however, must be performing work that is within one of the skilled trade occupations in NOC skill level B in order for their spouse to be eligible for the work permit.

Get help with Canadian work permits

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

Share this article
Share your voice
Did you find this article helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Did you find this article helpful?
Please provide a response
Thank you for your helpful feedback
Please contact us if you would like to share additional feedback, have a question, or would like Canadian immigration assistance.
  • Do you need Canadian immigration assistance? Contact the Contact Cohen Immigration Law firm by completing our form
  • Send us your feedback or your non-legal assistance questions by emailing us at
Related articles
IRCC to target a reduction in the temporary resident population over the next three years
IRCC will add temporary residents to the next Immigration Levels Plan.
Canada announces changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to better address labour market needs
The Parliament of Canada building in Ottawa, Ontario during the tulips festival
Can I travel outside Canada after applying for a work permit extension? 
professional truck driver looking at camera through side window
Can a foreign national hold a valid study permit and work permit simultaneously?
student in headphones sitting at a desk studying at home in front of laptop computer
Top Stories
Study: Immigrants admitted to Canada as children have better education and work outcomes
How an ECA can help you immigrate to Canada
British Columbia and Prince Edward Island issue PNP nominations this week
Join our free newsletter. Get Canada's top immigration stories delivered to your inbox.
More in Provinces
British Columbia and Prince Edward Island issue PNP nominations this week
From Yellowhead highway, a view of the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies - Mount Robson Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada.
Where in Canada can I settle: applicants selected by province or territory vs by the federal government
From front to back the flags represent British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brusnwick, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario provinces.
British Columbia and Manitoba invite provincial nominees
A picture of a Canadian flatland with mountains in the back.
Ontario releases 2024 PNP allocation; Three provinces nominate candidates in latest draws
Ontario will invite 21,500 candidates to apply for provincial nomination in 2024
Link copied to clipboard