How To Get a Canadian Open Work Permit

What is a Canada Open Work Permit?

A work permit is a legal document granting foreign nationals permission to undertake employment in Canada. There are two kinds of Canadian work permits:

The open work permit and the employer-specific work permit.

It is important to note that a work permit is not the same as a travel visa. You will not be able to enter the country on a work permit alone. Both are required.

A Canada open work permit does not tie you to one employer or region. If you have this type of permit, you will be able to be employed by many employers across the country. Since this permit is not job-specific, the following is not required when submitting your work permit application:

  • Evidence that the relevant employer has presented your offer of employment via the correct channel – the Employer Portal – and has the employer compliance fee payment
  • A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) which would be obtained from Employment and Social Development Canada

What is a Labour Market Impact Assessment?

A Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is a document that an employer in Canada may have to acquire before they hire a foreign national. If the assessment has a positive result, it will mean that there is a demand for someone from another country to fill the position. It will prove that no Canadian citizen or permanent resident is available for the post.

Open Work Permit Exceptions

While a Canada open work permit allows you to work for any company up north, there are the following exceptions:

  • You can’t work for an employer that is considered ineligible on the database of employers who have proven to be non-compliant with employment conditions
  • Or work for an employer who Regularly offers adult entertainment and services

Ways to Get a Canada Open Work Permit

There are several ways to get a Canada open work permit. We will now take a look at Post-Graduation Work Permits (PGWP), as a graduate within the International Experience Canada (IEC), the Spouse Open Work Permit (SOWP) and the Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP).

Post-Graduation Work Permits (PGWP)

Reports show that the bulk of LMIA-exempt work permits for the last year were issued to international student graduates who qualified for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). The PGWP affords graduates from Canadian Designated Learning Institutions (DLI) the opportunity to rack up valuable Canadian work experience by granting them a Canada open work permit.


Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is currently flexible regarding PFWP requirements due to the covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, if you have completed your studies online between March 2020 and August 2022, you will also be able to apply for this permit.

According to the IRCC, skilled work experience in National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill type 0, skill level A or B obtained via the PGWP plays an essential role in helping these graduates become eligible for Canadian permanent residency. This can be achieved via the Express Entry System’s Canadian Experience Class (CEC), which can grant you permanent residency after gaining one year of Canadian work experience.

As with all open work permits, if you are a student with a post-graduation work permit, you’ll be able to:

  • Be employed on a full-time basis
  • Have part-time jobs
  • Start your own business

After graduation, as an international student, you could qualify to work in Canada for up to three years. This is possible if you have completed a full-time degree of at least two years. If your course duration was more than eight months but less than two years, there is still a chance that you’ll be able to get a PGWP. The PGWP length would have to be the same as your course duration.

International Experience Canada (IEC)

Citizens from countries with reciprocal agreements can benefit by being able to apply for an open work permit via the International Experience Canada (IEC). The IEC was set up to give young people from around 30 nations the opportunity to work in the Great White North.

If you are between the ages of 18 and 35, you could qualify for an open work permit under the Working Holiday category. While as an IEC participant, you will not need a job offer. However, you will have to meet the other eligibility requirements for the program.

Spouse Open Work Permit (SOWP) Canada

If you have a spouse who works or studies up north, you will likely qualify for a Spouse Open Work Permit (SOWP). The same applies if you’ve submitted an application for permanent residence sponsorship under inland sponsorship if your spouse or partner is a Canadian citizen.

Who qualifies for a work permit as the spouse or common-law partner of a student?

Your spouse or common-law partner could qualify for an open work permit if you:

  • Have obtained a study permit
  • Qualify for a PGWP
  • Study full-time at a college or university or CEGEP in Quebec, a private college in Quebec or a Canadian private institution legally awards degrees

Spouses of Canadian citizens and permanent residents could qualify for a Spouse Open Work Permit if they do so under inland sponsorship and live in Canada with their significant other.

If you are the spouse of a temporary foreign worker in Canada, you could also get an open work permit. However, your spouse must meet the set requirements and have a valid work permit for six months after an open spousal work permit is obtained.

In addition, the foreign worker will have to meet the following conditions. They must:

  • Work in a National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill level of 0, A, or B
  • Work in any profession and have a provincial nomination from the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)
  • Work in any field and have a Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ)

Note: If you are the spouse of an international student, you could get a Spouse Open Work Permit Canada if you can prove that you are in a real relationship and your husband or wife is registered in a legitimate course.

Bridging Open Work Permit Canada (BOWP)

A Bridging Open Work Permit Canada (BOWP) makes it possible for foreign nationals to remain employed and in the country should their temporary status expire before getting permanent residency. If you are awaiting the results of your Canadian PR, you can apply for a BOWP. This will grant you an extension on your current valid work permit. If your application is a success, you’ll be able to work for multiple employers in multiple locations, of your choosing.

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