Canada’s work permit pathways for dependent children of age

Asheesh Moosapeta
Published: August 7, 2023

Canada recently announced a new policy that allows dependent children of temporary foreign workers (TFWs) to be eligible for work permits. This measure aims to combat chronic labor shortages in the country and provide more opportunities for families to stay together and integrate into Canadian communities.

Under the new policy, family members who meet certain criteria will be eligible for a work permit. This includes spouses, common-law partners, and dependent children of work permit holders who are in a job of any Training, Education, Experience, and Responsibilities (TEER) category, or who are the principal applicants (of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or the International Mobility Program) and have an open work permit (OWP). It also includes family members of economic class permanent resident applicants who hold a work permit.

However, family members of workers in TEER 4 or 5 jobs under the low-wage stream of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program and the Agricultural Stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) are not eligible at this time.

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Note that TEER categories (spanning 1-5) correspond to the amount or kind of training, education, experience, and responsibility required to work in an occupation:

  • TEER 0: This category includes management occupations that require a high level of education and work experience. Examples of jobs in this category are advertising, marketing, and public relations managers, as well as financial managers;
  • TEER 1: Occupations in this category usually require a university degree. Examples include financial advisors who provide advice on financial matters, and software engineers who design and develop computer software;
  • TEER 2: This category includes occupations that usually require a college diploma, apprenticeship training of 2 or more years, or supervisory occupations. Examples of jobs in this category are computer network and web technicians who set up and maintain computer networks, and medical laboratory technologists who perform tests and analyse samples in a medical laboratory;
  • TEER 3: Occupations in this category usually require a college diploma, apprenticeship training of less than 2 years, or more than 6 months of on-the-job training. Examples include bakers, dental assistants and dental laboratory assistants;
  • TEER 4: Occupations in this category usually require a high school diploma or several weeks of on-the-job training. They are typically entry-level positions that do not require extensive education or specialised skills. Examples of jobs in this category are home childcare providers, retail salespersons and visual merchandisers who assist customers in retail stores; and
  • TEER 5: Occupations in this category usually do not require formal education or training and instead rely on short-term work demonstration. These jobs often involve manual labor or basic service tasks. Examples of jobs in this category include landscaping and grounds maintenance laborers, delivery service drivers, and door-to-door distributors who transport and deliver goods to customers.

Previously, work permits were only available to spouses and family members of principal applicants (of a work or study permit program) that were either in high-skilled occupations, or international students. By extending work permits to the spouses, dependents, and common-law partners of TFWs, Canada aims to improve financial stability and make it easier for families to integrate into their communities, while adding to the Canadian labour force through untapped talent already living in Canada.

It is estimated that this new policy will allow the families of over 200,000 foreign workers to enter Canada's workforce..


A dependent child refers to a child who is either your own, your spouse's or your common-law partner's. To be eligible for the program your child should be:

  • Below 22 years old; and
  • Unmarried, and without a common-law partner.

If the child is 22 years or older, they qualify as dependant if they have been reliant on their parents' financial support since before turning 22 and cannot support themselves due to a physical or mental condition. These medical conditions must persist until the application processing is complete.

For children whose age-eligibility was established on or before October 23, 2017, a prior definition of dependent children might be applicable. Children who are in the exclusive custody of their other parent must still be included in the application for sponsorship, despite written agreements or court orders signifying a lack of custody or responsibility on the sponsored person's part. These children must also pass any mandatory medical, security, and background checks as needed.

Note for Permanent Residents that the act of including your dependent children in your application grants you the potential chance of sponsoring the child in future as a family class member, if there are changes in custody or living conditions. Permanent residents who do not declare all family members in their applications might be at risk of losing their permanent resident status. Hence, children in custody of a previous spouse or partner are also considered dependent children.

If the dependent children of TFWs want to work in Canada, they must apply for their work permit either with their family, or separately. They may be eligible for an open work permit if they are being sponsored by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, or if they are foreign workers in Canada. However, if they are not eligible for an open work permit, their employer may need to obtain a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). This assessment is typically required before hiring a foreign worker for a specific job.

It's important for dependent children who wish to work in Canada to check the minimum age requirements for the type of job they are seeking, and in the province or territory they plan to work in. Additionally, in some cases, a medical examination may be required before dependent children can work in Canada.

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