Are you a spouse or common-law partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident? Are you planning to apply for permanent residence in Canada under spousal sponsorship? If so, you may be eligible to apply for a spousal open work permit that will allow you to work in Canada while your sponsorship application is being processed. In this blog post, we will discuss a variety of common topics related to the spousal open work permit.
Who can apply for a work permit while being sponsored as a spouse or common-law partner?
If you are being sponsored as a spouse or common-law partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you may be eligible to apply for a spousal open work permit. An open work permit allows you to work for any employer in Canada, in any job. To be eligible for a spousal open work permit on the basis of your sponsorship application, you must meet the following criteria:
- You must be inside Canada.
- You must have applied for permanent residency under the inland spousal or common law partner sponsorship program.
- You must have received your file number from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for your sponsorship application.
- You must have a valid temporary resident status in Canada, or be eligible for restoration of your status.
- You must not be inadmissible to Canada.
When can my sponsored spouse apply for an open work permit?
If you are being sponsored inland as a spouse or common-law partner, you can apply for an open work permit after you have submitted your application for permanent residency, once you have received your sponsorship file number from IRCC.
How do I apply for a spousal work permit Canada?
An open work permit on the basis of your sponsorship application is an online application, submitted through your IRCC account. It must be submitted through the my CIC portal, not through the PR portal where your sponsorship application was submitted.
Do I need to pay a biometrics fee to apply for spousal open work permit?
You will likely need to pay the biometrics fee with your permanent residence application. If you have not been requested to provide biometrics for the sponsorship application before you submit the open work permit application, there is a good chance that you will need to pay the biometrics fee again and submit your biometrics as part of the work permit application. Depending on the biometric policies in place at the time of your application, if you are requested to pay the fee twice, but only submit biometrics once, then you will eventually receive a refund of the extra fee from the Canadian government.
How long does it take to get an open work permit as a sponsored spouse?
Processing times for a spousal open work permit vary based on IRCC priorities, but the standard is supposed to be 4 months. In reality, this timeframe varies considerably.
Do I have maintained (implied) status when I apply for an open work permit on the basis of my sponsorship application?
When you apply for an open work permit on the basis of your sponsorship application, you may be eligible for maintained (implied) status. This means that if your temporary resident status in Canada expires while your open work permit application is being processed, you will still be considered to have valid status in Canada, and you can legally stay until a decision is made on your work permit application.
To be eligible for maintained status, you must meet the following criteria:
- You must have submitted a complete application for an open work permit on the basis of your sponsorship application before your temporary resident status in Canada expires.
- You must have had valid temporary resident status in Canada at the time of your initial application for permanent residency.
- You must remain in Canada and not leave the country between the time your existing temporary status expires and the time you receive the new open work permit.
If you held a valid work permit at the time you applied for the spousal open work permit, then you can continue to work while you wait for the new permit to be issued. (This includes holders of IEC work permits and international students holding a post graduation work permit). If you had a valid study permit or visitor status when you applied for the spousal work permit, then you can remain legally inside Canada but you must wait to begin working until the work permit has been approved.
What are the benefits of an open work permit?
There are several benefits of having an open work permit while your sponsorship application is being processed.
Firstly, an open work permit allows you to work for any employer in Canada, and that employer does not need to obtain any special permission, like an LMIA (Labour Market Impact Assessment), in order to hire you. It makes it much easier to get a job offer.
Secondly, having a work permit can also make it easier for you to obtain certain services, such as a Social Insurance number, a bank account, public health care coverage or a driver’s license.
Thirdly, an open work permit also allows you to support yourself financially while your sponsorship application is being processed, which can relieve some of the financial burden on your sponsor.
What is the validity of a work permit for sponsored spouse?
The validity of a work permit for a sponsored spouse is normally 2 years, which allows plenty of time for your sponsorship application to be approved.
It is important to note that the validity of the work permit will also be limited by the validity of your passport. If your passport is expiring soon, your work permit should only be issued for the same period as your passport’s validity.
My sponsorship was cancelled. What happens to my open work permit?
Sometimes relationships don’t work out. If your sponsorship application is cancelled because you have separated from your spouse or common law partner, you need to notify IRCC and provide them with up to date information about your situation. If the open work permit has already been issued, then it will remain valid until the expiry date on the permit and you can continue to work and remain in Canada while you plan for your future. If the open work permit has not been issued as of the date of your separation, then that application is likely to be cancelled along with the sponsorship application, and you will need to explore alternate options if you wish to remain inside Canada.
My sponsorship was approved. What happens to my open work permit?
If your sponsorship application is approved and you are granted permanent residency, you will no longer need a work permit to work in Canada. You will are now eligible to work for any employer in Canada without restrictions.
Applying for an open work permit as a sponsored spouse or common-law partner can provide several benefits, including the ability to work in Canada and support yourself financially while your inland sponsorship application is being processed. By knowing your options and eligibility, you can make an informed decision on whether to apply for an open work permit during your spousal sponsorship process in Canada.
At The Way Immigration, we are Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants who have handled thousands of spouse and common law partner sponsorships, along with the associated work permit applications. We have pretty much seen it all! We would be happy to answer any questions you might have about your situation – please book an appointment online today.