Updated August 2023
Postcard-perfect lakes and mountains, universal healthcare, and excellent public safety are only some of the factors that make Canada a great country to live in. Its comparatively easy immigration programs mean that people from around the world have the opportunity to move and work in this beautiful nation.
Keep reading to learn about Canada’s open work permit and how you can benefit from it.
Table of Contents
What is the Canada open work permit?
To be able to legally work in Canada, foreign nationals need to own a work permit. While most work permits are tied to one specific employer, an open work permit doesn’t come with that condition and allows applicants to work for any employer for a specified period of time.
An occupation-restricted open work permit restricts the occupation or location of the job but not the employer.
Open work permits do not require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which means there is no need to prove that local talent is not available to do the job.
Open work permits are usually granted through the following four immigration programs:
- Post-graduation Work Permits (PGWP)
- International Experience Canada (IEC)
- Inland Spouse or Common-Law Sponsorship
- Bridging Open Work Permits (BOPWs)
From January 2023, families of LMIA-based work permit holders will also be eligible for open work permits.
Post-graduation Work Permit
A post-graduation work permit (PGWP) is issued to students who have graduated from eligible Canadian designated learning institutions (DLIs).
Students must meet all the following criteria to be eligible for PGWPs:
- they have completed an academic, vocational or professional training program at an eligible institution in Canada that is at least 8 months in duration leading to a degree, diploma or certificate.
- they have maintained full-time student status in Canada during each academic session of the program or programs of study they have completed and submitted as part of their post-graduation work permit application. Exceptions can be made only for the following:
- leave from studies
- final academic session
- they have received a transcript and an official letter from the eligible DLI confirming that they have met the requirements to complete their program of study.
Within 180 days of the date of applying for the post-graduation work permit, applicants must also meet one of the following criteria:
- they hold a valid study permit.
- they held a study permit.
Validity and extension
Depending upon the length of the study program, PGWPs are granted for 8 months up to a maximum of 3 years. They are a one-time opportunity for students and cannot be renewed or extended.
Students must apply for PGWP within 180 days of receiving confirmation from their DLI that they have met the requirements for completing their program of study. This confirmation can be a transcript or an official letter.
The application package for a PGWP can be obtained through the IRCC website:
It costs CAD 255 to obtain the PGWP. The fee for the permit itself is CAD 155, above which a charge of CAD 100 is levied as the open work permit holder fee.
The PGWP processing time takes anywhere between 80 to 180 days to process.
International Experience Canada
The International Experience Canada (IEC) program is designed for young adults who want to gain valuable work experience or improve their language skills in Canada.
The program provides 3 different kinds of work and travel experiences:
- working holiday
- young Professionals
- international co-op (internship)
Out of these, only the Working Holiday category gives you an open work permit. You can apply to this category if:
- you don’t have a job offer
- you want to work for more than one employer in Canada
- you want to work in more than one location
- you’d like to earn some money so that you can travel
To be able to participate:
- your country or territory of citizenship must have a Youth Mobility Agreement with Canada, or
- you may be able to use a recognized organization to participate
Some countries allow you to participate only once, while others allow multiple participation. Check your country-wise eligibility on Canada’s official portal.
Validity and extension
The IEC visa is valid for upto 2 years. You can extend your IEC work permit only in very specific cases.
If you fit the eligibility criteria, you can create your profile on the IRCC page to enter yourself as a candidate into the IEC pools. If your profile is selected, you’ll be invited to apply for the IEC program. You cannot apply to the program unless invited to.
Once you accept the invite, you’ll receive a message in your account with the deadline. You’ll then have 20 days to submit your work permit application.
Fill out the online application form. Upload the required documents on the “Document Checklist” page in your account and pay the fees. You can then submit the completed application and proceed to give your biometrics if required.
Read the detailed process for applying to the program here.
The IEC permit is priced at $161. Working holiday participants must pay an additional $100.
The IEC permit takes about 11 weeks to process since the submission of all required documents and biometrics.
Inland Spouse or Common-Law Sponsorship
Inland spouse or common-law sponsorship allows eligible applicants to sponsor their spouses, common-law partners, conjugal partners, and dependent children to live and work in Canada.
You can apply to this program only if you are a:
- a spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner living in Canada who’s being sponsored for permanent residence
- an accompanying dependent child of the principal applicant
When you apply for your open work permit, you must also be
- in a genuine relationship with your sponsor
- included in an application for permanent residence, and have an Acknowledgement of Receipt (AOR) letter confirming that your permanent residence application is being processed
- living in Canada with your sponsor
Before your dependent child works in Canada, check the minimum age required to work in the province/territory and in the job type they plan to work in. Canadian employers are responsible for meeting the requirements of the provincial labor laws.
Open work permit holders must also comply with federal, provincial or territorial labor laws to work.
If you’re an accompanying dependent child
To be eligible for an open work permit as a dependent child, both of the following criteria must be met:
- The principal applicant you’re accompanying must be
- in a genuine relationship with their sponsor
- included in an application for permanent residence, and have an AOR letter confirming that their permanent residence application is being processed
- living in Canada with their sponsor
- You must be living with your family member (the principal applicant) and their sponsor.
Validity and extension
Sponsorship, and thereby your work permit, lasts for 3 years.
You cannot extend or renew a spousal open work permit. You can, however, apply for a new one, provided your sponsor still has eligible status in Canada.
The application process depends on the status of the main applicant’s permanent residence. Spouses/partners who apply for permanent residence after 1 October 2022 can apply for a work permit after they receive an acknowledgement of receipt (AoR) letter confirming that their PR application has been put into the process.
You can apply for the open work permit by getting the online application package, which includes the checklist, forms and instructions. Upload the documents asked for in the checklist and pay the fees to submit your application.
The fee for sponsoring a spouse/partner is CAD 1080, while the fee for sponsoring a dependent child is CAD 150.
The processing time for this type of sponsorship visa varies from 14 months to 20 months, depending upon the sponsor’s relationship with the applicant.
Bridging Open Work Permits
Bridging Open Work Permits (BOPWs) allow applicants of permanent residence to keep working while they wait for the decision.
You may be eligible for BOPW if you applied for one of the below permanent residence programs:
The exact eligibility requirements vary according to the PR program you’ve applied for. Check the requirements applicable to you here.
Validity and extension
BOPWs are usually issued for 24 months, but in case your PR application takes longer to process, your BOPW may be extended for 12 months.
You can apply for BOPW once you receive the Acknowledgement of Receipt (AoR) as you need to submit this letter in the application. If you apply for PR through the Express Entry (EE) system, this letter will be received immediately in your EE account. If you applied outside the EE system, you’d have to wait to receive the letter by mail or email.
To apply for BOPW, you need to fill in this eligibility questionnaire and then print, fill, scan, and upload the given forms. Complete the payment of fees to be able to submit your application.
It costs CAD 255 to obtain the BOWP. The fee for the permit itself is CAD 155, above which a charge of CAD 100 is levied as the open work permit holder fee.
BOPWs are generally processed within 3 – 4 months.