Applying for an open work permit in Canada can be a significant milestone in your career journey. This permit gives you the freedom to work anywhere in Canada and change employers without requiring additional approvals. This guide aims to make the application process as smooth as possible for you, helping you understand the eligibility criteria, application process, and necessary documents. We also address your concerns about life in Canada, ensuring you’re fully prepared to make the most of this opportunity. Buckle up as we guide you through your Canadian work permit journey!

Understanding the Open Work Permit

An open work permit in Canada is a golden ticket for foreign nationals seeking employment opportunities. Unlike other work permits, it is not job-specific, meaning you don’t need an offer of employment or a positive labour market impact assessment (LMIA) to apply. This flexibility makes it a popular choice among prospective immigrants.

However, understanding the eligibility criteria and navigating the application process can be complex. This section simplifies these concepts and guides you toward a successful application.

What is an Open Work Permit?

An open work permit is an authorization for a foreign national to work for any employer in Canada, excluding those ineligible due to non-compliance with specific conditions. Unlike an employer-specific work permit, which binds the permit holder to a particular employer, an open work permit grants a wider range of employment opportunities.

Who is Eligible?

Eligibility for an open work permit varies and may depend on several factors, such as your current immigration status, whether you’re already in Canada and your reasons for applying. Common eligible groups include, but are not limited to, international students who have completed a program of study, young workers participating in special programs, and certain refugee claimants.

Differences Between Open Work Permits and Other Work Permits

In contrast to other work permits, the open work permit is not tied to a specific employer or location in Canada. This key difference provides the permit holder with greater freedom and flexibility in their employment options. In contrast, a closed or employer-specific work permit allows a foreign national to work in Canada. Still, they are bound to a specific employer and often a specific location as well.

 Key Takeaways:

  • An open work permit allows you to work for any employer in Canada, with few exceptions.
  • The eligibility for an open work permit depends on various factors, including your current immigration status and the reason for your application.
  • Unlike other work permits, the open work permit is not tied to a specific employer or location in Canada, offering greater flexibility.

Step-by-step Guide to Applying for an Open Work Permit

Applying for an open work permit might seem overwhelming due to the numerous steps involved. However, breaking down the process into manageable chunks can make the task more approachable. This section provides a step-by-step guide, simplifying the complex process and helping you navigate each stage effectively.

Step 1: Ensure Eligibility

Before starting the application process, verifying that you are eligible for an open work permit is crucial. The Government of Canada’s website provides a comprehensive list of eligibility requirements.

Eligibility may be influenced by several factors, including your current status in Canada (such as being a student, temporary worker, or refugee claimant), your family situation (like being a spouse or dependent child of a temporary resident), and your involvement in specific programs or situations (e.g., you’re a young worker participating in special programs). Always cross-verify your eligibility before proceeding with the application.

Open Work Permit Eligibility:

  1. Valid Temporary Resident Status: If you’re in Canada, you must have legal status as a student, visitor, or temporary worker.
  2. Compliance with Conditions: Must not have failed to comply with any condition of your entry or any previous work or study permit (e.g., having worked or studied illegally in Canada).
  3. Departure Assurance: Prove to an officer that you’ll leave Canada when your permit expires.
  4. Financial Support: Show that you have enough money to support yourself and any family members while in Canada and to return home.
  5. Criminal Record and Security: No criminal record or security concerns that could make you inadmissible to Canada. You may need to provide a police clearance certificate.
  6. Health Requirements: You might need to undergo a medical examination to prove you’re in good health, especially if you plan to work in certain occupations.
  7. Employer Eligibility: Cannot plan to work for an employer who is listed as ineligible on the list of employers who have failed to comply with the conditions or offers striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages.
  8. Specific Situations: You may be eligible if you’re in a specific category, such as a spouse or common-law partner of a skilled worker or student, a refugee claimant, or under an unenforceable removal order, among others.
  9. No Risk to Canadian Labour Market: If applying for an employer-specific work permit, your job offer must not adversely affect the Canadian labour market.
  10. Validity of Passport: Your passport must be valid for the entire duration of the work permit.
  11. Provincial Nominations: If applicable, align with provincial or territorial requirements (for example, having a valid provincial nomination).
  12. Family Members Status: Family members who accompany you must also be admissible to Canada and might need to submit individual applications.
  13. Irreplicability by Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents: For job-specific work permits, you must show that the employer conducted reasonable efforts to hire or train Canadians or permanent residents (not applicable to open work permits).
  14. Age Restrictions: Depending on the work permit stream, you may need to meet certain age requirements.
  15. Agreement Compliance: If applicable, you comply with the terms of a reciprocal agreement between Canada and your home country that allows you to apply for an open work permit.
  16. Designated Learning Institution Graduate: If you’re applying for a post-graduation work permit, you must have completed a program of study at a designated learning institution.
  17. Abuse or Risk of Abuse in Relation to a Job: If you currently hold an employer-specific work permit and are experiencing or at risk of experiencing abuse in your job, you may apply for an open work permit.

Each of these points represents an element that could affect your eligibility for an open work permit. The immigration authorities will require appropriate documentation to support your eligibility as per the above checklist, so make sure to prepare your application thoroughly. It is highly recommended to check the official Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website or consult with a legal immigration representative to understand all the detailed requirements and procedures.

Step 2: Gather Required Documents

Next, you must gather all the necessary documents. This could include your passport, proof of your current immigration status, evidence of your job in Canada (if applicable), and any other documents required by the application process.

Always double-check the document checklist provided by the Canadian government, as the requirements may vary depending on your personal circumstances. Having the correct documents ready at the start of the application process can save a lot of time and prevent potential hiccups later on.

Open Work Permit Application Required Documents Checklist:

  1. Application Form: Completed and signed application form for a work permit made outside Canada (IMM 1295).
  2. Family Information Form: Completed Family Information form (IMM 5707).
  3. Document Checklist: Completed document checklist (IMM 5488) included with your application package.
  4. Photographs: Two (2) recent passport-sized photos conforming to the visa application photograph specifications.
  5. Passport: A photocopy of the information page of your valid passport, and those of any accompanying family members.
  6. Proof of Status: If applicable, proof of current immigration status in the country where you are applying.
  7. Job Offer: A copy of the job offer or contract from your employer, if applicable.
  8. Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA): A copy of the LMIA provided by your employer, if required.
  9. Offer of Employment Number: For LMIA-exempt work permits, the ‘Offer of employment to a foreign national exempt from LMIA’ number.
  10. Government Fees: Receipt of payment for the work permit processing fee and open work permit holder fee.
  11. Proof of Relationship: If applicable, marriage certificate, common-law status documents, birth certificates for dependent children.
  12. Medical Exam: If required, proof of medical examination by a panel physician.
  13. Biometrics: Receipt confirming that you have provided your biometric data, if required.
  14. Police Certificates: If required, Police Clearances from countries where you’ve lived for certain periods.
  15. Proof of Financial Support: Evidence that you can financially support yourself and accompanying family members during your stay.
  16. CAQ: For the province of Quebec, a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ), if required.
  17. Use of a Representative Form (IMM 5476): If you are using a representative, a completed and signed Use of a Representative form.
  18. Additional Documents: Any other documents specified by the visa office or that support your application.

Not sure if you require a document? Reach out to Pax Law, we’re a team of immigration experts ready to help.

Step 3: Complete the Application Form

After gathering all the necessary documents, you must complete the application form. Be sure to provide accurate and truthful information. Any discrepancies could lead to delays or even the rejection of your application. The Government of Canada provides detailed instructions on how to complete the application form.

Step 4: Pay the Application Fees

Once you’ve completed the application form, you’ll be required to pay the application fees. An open work permit fee includes the processing fee and an additional charge known as the “open work permit holder” fee.

Ensure to check the latest fees on the official website to avoid any inaccuracies. Keep a record of the transaction for future reference. The government will not process your application if you have not paid the correct fee.

DescriptionFee (CAD)
Work Permit (including extensions) – per person$155
Work permit (including extensions) – per group (3 or more performing artists)$465
Open Work Permit Holder$100
Biometrics – per person$85
Biometrics – per family (2 or more people)$170
Biometrics – per group (3 or more performing artists)$255
* Fees updated on December 14, 2023

Step 5: Submit the Application

With the completed application form and the fees paid, you’re now ready to submit your application. This can be done online or via mail, depending on your preference and situation. However, online applications are typically processed faster, and you can easily check your application status.

Step 6: Track Application Status

After submission, be sure to keep track of your application status. The Government of Canada’s website provides a tool to check your status online.

Processing Times

The processing times for an open work permit can vary depending on various factors. This uncertainty often leads to anxiety and stress among applicants. To alleviate this, we will shed light on the key factors influencing processing times and provide an estimate for better planning.

Factors that affect processing times

Numerous factors can impact the processing time of your open work permit application:

  • Application method: Applications submitted online are often processed faster than those sent by mail.
  • Application completeness: If your application is incomplete or has errors, it may require additional time to process.
  • Volume of applications: If Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) are dealing with a high volume of applications, it might take longer to process your application.
  • Your situation: Personal circumstances, such as the need for additional checks or interviews, can also increase processing times.

Estimated processing times for open work permit

As of the time of writing, the average processing time for an online application for an open work permit from outside Canada is about 3-5 weeks, but it can vary. You can check the most recent processing times on the IRCC website.

 Key Takeaways:

Processing times can be influenced by several factors, such as the application method, application completeness, volume of applications, and your personal circumstances.

Average processing times are typically a few weeks, but it can vary. Always check the most recent processing times on the official website.

Preparing for Life in Canada

Moving to a new country is a significant change that requires careful preparation. To help you settle into your new life in Canada, we’ll provide useful tips on job hunting, understanding the Canadian workplace culture, and how to arrange your accommodations, education, and healthcare.

Job Hunting in Canada

The job market in Canada is competitive, but with the right strategy, you can increase your chances of landing a suitable job. Tailor your resume to each job application, highlighting the skills and experiences that make you the best candidate. Utilize job search websites, LinkedIn, and networking events to discover job opportunities. Remember that some Canadian employers may not be familiar with overseas qualifications, so you may need to have your credentials evaluated.

Understanding Canadian Workplace Culture

The Canadian workplace culture values politeness, punctuality, and good communication. Diversity is celebrated, and employers are legally required to provide a fair and inclusive workplace. Understanding these cultural norms can help you adjust to your new workplace and interact effectively with your colleagues.

Settling in Canada: Accommodation, Education, Health care

Finding a place to live is one of the first tasks you’ll need to handle. Canada offers a variety of housing options, including apartments, condos, and houses. You should consider the cost, location, and proximity to amenities when choosing your home.

 If you have children, you’ll need to register them in school. Canada’s education system is among the best in the world, offering public, private, and home-school options.

Canada has a comprehensive healthcare system that provides coverage for basic healthcare services. As a new resident, it’s essential to apply for a health insurance card from your province’s health ministry.

 Key Takeaways:

When job hunting in Canada, tailor your resume, use job search platforms, and consider having your credentials evaluated.

The Canadian workplace culture values politeness, punctuality, and good communication.

Consider the cost, location, and proximity to amenities when choosing your accommodation in Canada.

Register your children in school if applicable, and apply for a health insurance card when you arrive in Canada.

Dealing with Application Challenges

Applying for an open work permit can sometimes present certain challenges. In this section, we’ll address common application errors and advise on what to do if your application is denied.

Common application errors and how to avoid them

Many challenges with work permit applications stem from common errors. Here are a few and how you can avoid them:

  • Incorrect or incomplete forms: Ensure all the information provided is accurate and complete. Review your application multiple times before submitting.
  • Not submitting the required documents: Use the document checklist provided by the Canadian government to ensure you have all the necessary documents.
  • Not paying the correct fee: Always double-check the current fees on the official IRCC website and keep proof of your payment.
  • Not updating changes in circumstances: If your circumstances change after submitting your application, you must inform IRCC. Failing to do so could lead to a delay or rejection of your application.

What to do if your application is denied?

If your application is denied, you will receive a letter from IRCC explaining the reasons for refusal. Depending on the reasons given, you may choose to address the issues highlighted and reapply, or you may wish to seek legal advice. Remember, a refused application does not necessarily mean you can’t apply again.

Key Takeaways:

  • Common application errors include incorrect or incomplete forms, not submitting required documents, not paying the correct fee, and not updating changes in circumstances.
  • If your application is denied, address the issues mentioned in the refusal letter and consider reapplying.

Ensuring a Successful Transition: Final Thoughts

Securing an open work permit is just the first step in your Canadian journey. Successfully transitioning into your new life involves understanding the application process, preparing for life in Canada, and overcoming potential challenges. Remember to always cross-verify your eligibility before proceeding with the application, gather all necessary documents, track the status of your application, understand the Canadian job market and workplace culture, and familiarize yourself with the living arrangements, education system, and healthcare in Canada.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if my open work permit application is denied?

If your application is denied, you will receive a letter from IRCC explaining the reason for refusal. You can then address the issues and reapply, or seek legal advice. At Pax Law, we can help you with the legal advice on your case. Contact us here.

Can I bring my family with me on an open work permit?

Yes, you may be able to bring your spouse and dependent children with you to Canada. They may need to apply for their own study or work permits.

Can I switch jobs while on an open work permit in Canada?

Yes, an open work permit allows you to work for any employer in Canada, excluding those who are ineligible or regularly offer striptease, erotic dance, escort services, or erotic massages.

How can I extend my open work permit?

You can apply to extend your work permit if it’s expiring soon, usually 30 days before the expiry date. Be sure to keep your status legal in Canada by applying on time.

Is a medical examination necessary for an open work permit?

A medical examination may be necessary depending on the nature of the job you plan to do in Canada or if you’ve lived for six or more consecutive months in certain countries prior to coming to Canada.


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