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December 2, 2022

Spouses of some Work Permit holders are now eligible to apply for Open Work Permits

CIC News > Latest News > > Spouses of some Work Permit holders are now eligible to apply for Open Work Permits In a landmark announcement, Sean Fraser has announced that Canada will seek to keep families of some Work Permit holders together.

Immigration minister Sean Fraser announced on Dec 2nd, 2022 that Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will expand the eligibility of Open Work Permits (OWP) to the spouses of some Work Permit holders.

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What are Work Permits?

Work permits allow foreign nationals (i.e.: individuals who are neither citizens nor permanent residents of Canada) to work in Canada. Typically Work Permits are issued for a specific job with a specific employer. OWPs on the other hand allow foreign nationals to legally work in Canada for any employer and in any job.

New changes to OWP eligibility

The expansion of eligibility of OWPs to spouses of some closed Work Permits is a huge step towards enticing more immigrants to work, and potentially even settle, in Canada. Spouses of international students, and Canadian permanent residents and citizens had already been afforded the ability to be sponsored by their spouse for an OWP; however, the eligibility expansion, for spouses of current Work Permit holders is telling of Canada’s willingness to receive more newcomers.

IRCC is expecting more than 100,000 new work permit applications from spouses of existing work permit holders as a result of this policy change.

The program is expected to be implemented at the start pf 2023 in three phases:

High-wage stream—For spouses of higher paid workers who hold a work permit;
Provinces and territories stream—For spouses of lower wage workers; and
Families of agriculture workers—This phase would specifically deal with families of seasonal agriculture workers, a key stream of employment that Canada is trying to expand as part of its economic recovery.

Though IRCC is keen to implement these changes to aid economic recovery, these dates remain tentative. As Minister Fraser reports, much of phase two and three will still need to be developed in collaboration with provinces and employers.

Why does Canada need more people?

Canada has long recognized the importance of immigration for the financial, demographic, and societal health of the country; however, the COVID-19 pandemic has hurried the need for newcomers.

As the country continues to face record high job vacancies, in the presence of low levels of unemployment, and a constant stream of retirees, immigration has become a key focus for economic health and recovery in the wake of a pandemic-affected 2020 and 2021.

As Minister Fraser noted in his December 2nd announcement, ten years ago there were roughly seven Canadian workers for every retiree leaving the workforce. Today there are closer to three workers for every retiree; and given the current trajectory this number is likely to fall to two, in the next 10-15 years. If these numbers do not rise, Canada will not have necessary skilled labour to maintain its most vital industries like healthcare and education; much less its economic growth or health.

Policy adjustments like the one above will be crucial steps, to ensure that continued health of Canadian society. IRCC has already committed (through the Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025) to welcoming over 1.45 million new immigrants by the end of 2025.

Schedule a Free Work Permit Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

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