Spouses of OWP holders in Canada are now eligible to work!

Spouses of OWP holders in Canada are now eligible to work!

Surya Rathee Surya Rathee
[Published 03 Dec, 2022 | 05:12 AM]
About Author - 3 min read

On December 2, 2022, Canada’s Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will now seek to expand the eligibility of Open Work Permits (OWP) to spouses of OWP holders in Canada.

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What is an Open Work Permit?

Generally, a work permit in Canada is a legal document that allows an immigrant to engage in employment while in the country. However, an Open Work Permit refers to a work permit that is not tied to a single employer or location. An OWP allows an immigrant to legally work in Canada for any employer and in any job.

Open Work Permits are usually issued through the following Canada Immigration programs:

  • Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)
  • International Experience Canada (IEC)
  • Inland Spousal or Common-Law Sponsorship
  • Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP)

Applying for an Open Work Permit in Canada does not require a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

New changes to the OWP eligibility

With the expansion of eligibility to spouses of OWP holders, Canada has taken a big step toward attracting more immigrants to work and settle in the country. Since spouses of international students, Canadian permanent residents, and citizens already had the option to be sponsored by their spouses for an OWP, the eligibility expansion for spouses of current OWP holders – is Canada’s way of welcoming more immigrants.

With this change, IRCC is expecting more than 100,000 new OWP applications from spouses of existing OWP holders in Canada.

Expected to begin at the start of 2023, this new change will be implemented in three phases:

  • PHASE 1: High-wage stream - For spouses of higher-paid workers with an Open Work Permit.
  • PHASE 2: Provinces and Territories stream – For spouses of lower-wage workers with an Open Work Permit.
  • PHASE 3: Families of agriculture workers – For families of seasonal agricultural workers.

The dates for these changes to “support and sustain” the economic recovery remain tentative. According to reports, much of Phase 2 and Phase 3 will still need to develop in collaboration with provinces and employers in Canada.

Why is Canada targeting more immigrants?

Owing to the low levels of unemployment and a constant stream of retirees, the number of job openings in Canada has reached an all-time high at nearly one million. Job vacancies continue to rise in specific sectors in Canada, where some of the hardest-hit sectors include the Healthcare and Social Services sectors.

As Canada faces a massive shortage of skilled workers, many employers in Canada are struggling to find the right people to fill in the rapidly increasing job vacancies. To address the same, the Canadian government has turned to the Canada Immigration Level Plan 2023 – 2025.

Canada has long understood the importance of immigration for the financial, demographic, and societal health of the country. However, the post-COVID time hastened the need for new immigrants.


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