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A work permit is a legal document permitting a foreign national to engage in employment while inside of Canada. An open work permit refers to a work permit which is not tied to a single employer or location. This means that a foreign national with a valid open work permit may work for multiple employers in multiple locations throughout Canada. It should be noted that certain open work permits may have additional requirements or restrictions which must be respected by foreign nationals. Open work permits are most commonly issued through the following immigration programs:

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

Benefits of an Open Work Permit

Open work permits are highly sought after for the freedom they give their holders. While most work permits are tied to a specific employer, an open work permit allows a foreign national to work for any employer in Canada and the freedom to move from location to location at their own discretion. By gaining Canadian work experience, many foreign nationals will improve their eligibility for Canadian permanent residency. As Canadian work experience is accrued, foreign nationals can monitor their eligibility for the following pathways to permanent residence:

  • Express Entry
  • Federal Skilled Worker (FSW)
  • Federal Skilled Trades (FST)
  • Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
  • Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs)
  • Quebec Immigration

Even with an open work permit, foreign nationals are not eligible to accept employment from the following categories of employers:

  • Employers listed as ineligible for having been non-compliant with IRCC regulations
  • Employers regularly offering striptease, erotic dance, escort services, or erotic massages.

Who is eligible

Foreign nationals in the following situations may be eligible to apply for an open work permit:

  • Spouses or common-law partners of some temporary foreign workers
  • Spouses or common-law partners of some international students
  • Some international students who have graduated from a designated program of study in Canada
  • Permanent residency applicants who have applied through the inland spousal sponsorship process
  • Some young workers participating in programs offered through International Experience Canada (IEC)
  • Refugees, refugee claimants, protected persons and their family members

The exact eligibility requirements and application procedure varies depending on which of the above-mentioned situations a foreign national meets.