Canada family sponsorship: Open Work Permits now also available for outland applications

Edana Robitaille
Published: July 18, 2023

Family reunification is a core pillar in Canada’s immigration strategy and a new measure by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) aims to make it possible for more families to be together.

Spouses, partners, and dependents of permanent residents, Canadian citizens, temporary workers, and students already in Canada may now be eligible for an Open Work Permit.

Previously, open work permits were only available to applicants through inland sponsorship, or those who were already living in Canada on a Temporary Residence Visa (TRV). The new measure means those who are applying from outside of Canada (outland sponsorship) are now eligible for open work permits.

Family members are defined as spouses, common-law partners, conjugal partners, and dependent children over 18 years old.

IRCC aims to process all spousal sponsorship applications within 12 months.

Sponsor your family for Canadian immigration

Eligibility for open work permits

According to IRCC, family members who have a valid temporary resident status, maintained their status or are eligible for and have applied to restore their status, and have the same residential address as their sponsor in Canada when they apply for an open work permit, may be eligible for an open work permit.

IRCC public policy says that officers may grant an open work permit to foreign nationals who meet either one of the following conditions:

The foreign national is:

  • A principal applicant who has submitted a permanent residence application under the spouse or common law partner in Canada or as a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner under the family class that has been accepted for processing by IRCC
  • Has submitted a work permit application, where the duration of the work permit requested is a maximum of two years
  • Is the subject of a sponsorship application submitted by their Canadian citizen or permanent resident spouse, common law or conjugal partner
  • Has the same residential address as their sponsor in Canada at the time of the application, and
  • Has valid temporary resident status in Canada or is eligible for and has applied for restoration of status

OR

The foreign national is:

  • A dependent child that has been included as an accompanying family member in the application for permanent residence
  • Has submitted a work permit application where the duration of the work permit requested is for a maximum of two years
  • Has the same residential address as the principal applicant and their sponsor in Canada at the time of the application, and
  • Has valid temporary resident status in Canada or is eligible for and has applied for restoration of status

Canada’s ongoing commitment to family reunification

The above measure was announced on May 26 by Immigration Minister Sean Fraser.

The introduction of open work permits for outland spousal sponsorship came along with other family reunification measures such as:

  • Faster temporary resident visa (TRV) processing times for spousal applicants
  • New and dedicated processing tools for spousal TRV applicants
  • Open work permit extensions for open work permit holders expiring between August 1st and the end of 2023

Fraser said IRCC is committed to reuniting families faster and allowing them to work and support themselves more quickly once they are here. He said by doing so, Canada is helping newcomers achieve their true potential, while also strengthening Canada’s economy and social fabric.

Sponsor your family for Canadian immigration

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