The Canadian government has extended the pilot program that enables foreign nationals living in Canada who have applied to immigrate as a spouse or common-law partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to work while they are waiting for the application to be processed. The Open Work Permit Pilot Program was originally scheduled to expire on 22 December 2016 but has now been extended to 21 December 2017.
The Spouses or Common-Law Partners in Canada (SCLPC) class which is part of the Family Class Immigration category, enables a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to sponsor a spouse or common-law partner for Canadian permanent residency. The Open Work Permit Pilot Program allows a spouse or common-law partner sponsored by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to acquire an open work permit that will enable them to work anywhere in Canada and for any employer.
While announcing the news of the SCPLC extension, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) John McCullum, also announced that the processing times for applications under the SCLPC will also be significantly reduced. Currently, the average processing time for SCLPC applications is 26 months, and the Minister announced that as of 7 December 2016 the IRCC aims to process spousal sponsorship applications within 12 months.
Important notice to applicants
The IRCC has provided instructions on the next step for spouses and common-law partners living in Canada and being sponsored under the SCLPC.
To be eligible for the open work permit, candidates must have a valid temporary resident status as a visitor, student or worker, and must reside at the same address as their sponsor. Candidates who received an open work permit under the initial pilot program must apply for a work permit extension before the current permit expires.
Candidates who have already submitted an application for permanent residence through the SCLPC but have not yet received a letter from the IRCC confirming that they meet the eligibility requirements, or who have not yet applied for a Canadian work permit, may submit an application for a work permit.