Bridging Open Work Permits

Posted on Categories Working in Canada

Qualifying foreign nationals currently in Canada who meet program eligibility requirements may be able to receive Bridging open work permits to bridge the gap between the expiry of their current work permits and the final decision on their application for permanent residence (APR). They must have submitted an application for permanent residence under one of the following classes:

  1. the federal skilled worker class (FSWC);
  2. the Canadian experience class (CEC);
  3. the federal skilled trades class (FSTC);
  4. the caring for children class or the caring for people with high medical needs class and the attention need it, and the use of a Long Island NY Medical Malpractice Lawyer when this attention doesn’t fill the requirements; or
  5. the provincial nominee class (PNC), for applicants for whom there are no employer restrictions on nominations.

For certain employer-driven streams in the PNC, the nominating province or territory may impose employment restrictions on a successful nominee until the person becomes a permanent resident. If employment restrictions are imposed, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will not issue an open work permits to the foreign national under the bridging open work permits (BOWP) Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemption.

BOWP eligibility parameters

To be eligible for a BOWP, foreign nationals must

  • be currently in Canada;
  • have valid status on a work permit that is due to expire within the next four months;
  • be the principal applicant on an APR under the FSWC, the CEC, the FSTC, the PNC (see note below), or one of the two caregiver classes;
  • have completed one of the following APR stages:
    – their electronic application for permanent residence (e‑APR) submitted under Express Entry has passed the R10 completeness check; or
    – they have received a positive eligibility assessment on their paper APR submitted by mail under one of the economic classes above;
  • have applied for an open work permit;
  • have paid the work permit processing fee and the open work permit holder fee; and
  • have provided, as applicable, evidence (e.g., nomination certificate) that their provincial nomination is unrestricted.

Note: Foreign nationals in the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) are eligible for a BOWP only if they have provided a copy of the nomination letter issued by the nominating province or territory along with their application and there is no indication that employment restrictions exist as conditions of the nomination.

The following foreign nationals do not qualify for a BOWP:

  • foreign nationals in Canada under section 186 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), who are exempt from the work permit requirement;
  • foreign nationals who have let their status expire and must apply for restoration in order to return to temporary resident status;
  • foreign nationals whose work permits are valid for longer than four months or who already have a new LMIA that can be used as the basis for a new work permit application;
  • foreign nationals applying for a BOWP at a port of entry or visa office;
  • spouses and dependents of principal permanent resident applicants; and
  • foreign nationals who are inadmissible to Canada.
Permanent residence application stage
Express Entry: determining if an e-APR has passed the completeness check

If a foreign national submits an APR using Express Entry, they may apply for a BOWP if they meet the eligibility requirements. However, a decision on the application will not be made until the Centralized Intake Office (CIO) has assessed the e‑APR for completeness. A BOWP can be issued only if the e‑APR has passed the R10 completeness check.

Applicants applying for a BOWP must include a copy of their Acknowledgment of receipt – Application for permanent residence letter with their open work permit application.

Paper APR: determining if a positive eligibility decision has been made

If the paper APR under one of the qualifying economic classes was submitted by mail prior to January 1, 2015, or was submitted outside of the Express Entry system, it must have a positive eligibility assessment in order for the foreign national to be eligible for a BOWP.

Applicants applying for a BOWP must include a copy of their Acknowledgment of Receipt letter with their open work permit application.

Determining if nomination has employment restrictions

In order to determine whether the applicant is subject to restrictions on employment, a nomination template letter has been provided to all provinces and territories. Different versions of the letter have already been implemented by several provinces and territories and are in the process of being implemented by all other provinces and territories.

This letter contains one of the following boxes, which IRCC officers can use to determine whether there are employment restrictions on the nomination. Provinces and territories have been instructed to choose “Yes” or “No” in the Restrictions on employment field, as this will provide IRCC officers with confirmation of whether the nominee is, in fact, eligible to apply for a BOWP.

Provinces and territories may include an employer or the name of the occupation and the National Occupational Classification (NOC) code, and still indicate that there are no employment restrictions. In these cases, the applicants are eligible for an open work permit, provided they meet the other eligibility criteria. A separate letter from the applicant or the nominating province to confirm that no employment restrictions exist should not be requested.

BOWP issuance

Applicants must submit an Application to Change Conditions, Extend my Stay or Remain in Canada as a Worker form [IMM 5710 (PDF, 449.75 KB)] indicating that they are applying for an open work permit.

Work permit applications are processed as per information provided by the foreign national. The response to “What type of work permit are you applying for?” must be “Open work permit” to meet the eligibility requirements. Officers will ensure the applicants meet the eligibility requirements, regardless of whether an employer’s name is mentioned.

Employment location

When a BOWP is being issued to an applicant for permanent residence under the PNC, the employment location on the work permit must be restricted to the nominating province.

FSWC, FSTC, CEC and caregiver classes

For a BOWP issued to FSWC, FSTC, CEC or caregiver classes applicants, there are no restrictions to employment location.

Spouse or common‑law partner and dependents

Certain conditions must be met by the holder of a BOWP in order for their spouse or common‑law partner to also be eligible for an open work permit under sub-paragraph R205(c)(ii) as a spouse or common‑law partner of a skilled worker.

In all cases, the BOWP must be valid for longer than six months.

Dependent children of a permanent residence applicant in any of these economic classes must obtain an LMIA or have an LMIA exemption based on their specific situation in order to apply for a work permit.


About the Author

Harjit Grewal was born and educated in the United Kingdom where he obtained his LLB (Bachelor of Law) and LLM (Master of Law). He practiced British immigration law for seven years with the respected Immigration Advisory Service as a member of the Law Society of England & Wales and the Office for the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC). After moving to Canada he secured the prestigious ICCRC designation to provide authorized Canadian visa and immigration services.


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