If you are in Canada under a temporary resident visa as a business visitor or on a work permit and have applied for permanent residence, there is some positive news for you based on changes that were recently made to the Bridging Open Work Permit program. If you are waiting for your application to be processed, the changes to the Bridging Open Work Permit program will allow you to keep working while awaiting an answer from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada on the status of your application for permanent residence.

What is the Bridging Open Work Permit Program?

The Bridging Open Work Permit program is a program that allows permanent residence applicants to keep working while they are waiting for the results of their permanent resident application. In the wake of the immigration delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bridging Open Work Permit may be utilized by more applicants than before in order for them to keep working while their application is being processed. Responding to these delays, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada made changes to the program that removed the time limit on when a Bridging Open Work Permit could be applied for. Formerly, applicants had to apply within four months of their work permit’s expiry date, but now an application can be made at any point. A further change has made it so those with an expired work permit can now apply for a Bridging Open Work Permit when they previously would not have been allowed to apply. These changes have made it easier for permanent residence applicants to continue working while their application is being processed.

Eligibility Requirements for a Bridging Open Work Permit

There are some eligibility requirements for who can apply for a Bridging Open Work Permit. For example, to be eligible, foreign nationals must currently be in Canada after being authorized to enter as a temporary resident, have valid temporary resident status and authorization to work as the holder of a valid work permit or be eligible to restore their temporary resident status with authorization to work on a work permit. Further, foreign nationals must submit an application for permanent residence as the principal applicant under one of the following classes: Federal Skilled Worker Class, Canadian Experience Class, Federal Skilled Trades Class, Provincial Nominee Program, Agri-Food Pilot and the Quebec Skilled Worker Class. There are differences between applying under these classes, so be sure to be sure which class you want to apply under before you submit your application. For example, if applying after applying for permanent residence as part of a Provincial Nominee Program, applicants are eligible for a Bridging Open Work Permit only if they provided with their application a copy of the nomination letter issued by the nominating province or territory that indicates their employment is unrestricted and selected “Open Work Permit” on their application form. Finally, prior to applying for a Bridging Open Work Permit applicants must complete a stage of the application for permanent residence depending on the class of permanent residence they are applying under. For most classes, this means completing the electronic application for permanent residence.

Applicants for the Bridging Open Work Permit must provide a completed Application to Change Conditions, Extend my Stay or Remain in Canada as a Worker form. On the form, the Applicant must respond “Open Work Permit” as the response to the question “What type of work permit are you applying for” in order to meet the eligibility requirements. There also must be payment of the work permit processing fee and the open work permit holder fee as well as proof of the meeting the application for permanent residence stage as required based on their corresponding permanent residence application.

There are certain foreign nationals who are not eligible to qualify for a Bridging Open Work Permit. Foreign nationals in Canada under section 186 who are exempt from the work permit requirement are not eligible under the program. Further, foreign nationals who apply for a Bridge Open Work Permit at a port of entry or visa officer are not eligible because they have not been authorized to enter Canada yet.

Eligibility for Spouse or Common-Law Partner and Dependents of Principal Applicant

If you applied for permanent residence and a Bridging Open Work Permit, there are further rules for if you want your spouse, common-law partner, or dependants to be able to work in Canada. Spouses and common-law partners have to provide additional documentation while the principal applicant is on a Bridging Open Work Permit in order to be permitted to work. There is no requirement that the spouse or common-law partner be in Canada in order to apply, and the Bridging Open Work Permit must be valid for a minimum of six months in order to apply to work. Dependent children are not eligible for open work permits, they must obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment in order to work, even while the principal applicant has a Bridging Open Work Permit.

If you Think a Bridging Open Work Permit May Be Right For You, Garson Immigration Law Can Help

Garson Immigration Law is a firm exclusively dedicated to the practice of immigration law. We successfully guide clients through the immigration process, with an eye toward the ever-changing regulations in light of COVID-19. Our immigration lawyers are here to help you with any of your application needs. Do not hesitate to reach out to us online or by calling us at 416-321-2860.

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