Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s (“CIC“) International Mobility Program containing an bridging open work permit program for temporary foreign workers currently working in Canada who have submitted permanent residence applications under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (“FSWP“), the Canadian Experience Class (“CEC“), the Provincial Nominee Program (“PNP“), or the Federal Skilled Trades Program (“FSTP“).
Bridging open work permits are a huge and positive development for Canadian employers with employees who have filed permanent residence applications under one of Canada’s economic programs. CIC’s introduction of bridging work permits removes a significant issue which many temporary foreign workers previously encountered, namely that they were unable to extend their work permits during CIC’s processing of their permanent resident applications without their employers first having to obtain positive Labour Market Impact Assessments, an uncertain process which often takes months.
Temporary foreign workers currently working in Canada are eligible to apply for a bridging work permit if they:
- are a foreign national in Canada;
- have valid status on a work permit that is due to expire within 4 months;
- received a positive eligibility decision on their permanent residence application under either the FSWP, the CEC, the PNP, or the FSTP; and
- they have applied for an open work permit.
The following individuals are not eligible for open bridging work permits:
- foreign nationals in Canada working in Canada who are work permit exempt;
- 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 and/or who already have a new Labour Market Impact Assessment that can be used as the basis for a new work permit application;
- foreign nationals applying for a bridging work permit at the port of entry;
- spouse and dependants of the principal permanent resident applicant; and
- provincial nominees who have not submitted a copy of their nomination letter with the application for a bridging work permit, or whose nomination letter specifically indicates employment restrictions.
That last point is an important one for provincial nominees. Provincial nominees whose nomination certificates stipulate conditions or restrictions indicating that they must work for a specific employer, or work under a specific NOC code, will not be eligible for bridging open work permits.
For the purpose of determining whether a positive eligibility decision has been made, the following must have occurred:
- For FSWP applicants, CIC must have sent a positive Final Determination of Eligibility Letter, or set the “Ministerial Instructions” status to “Met.”
- For PNP applicants, the Central Intake Office must have sent the applicant an Acknowledgement of Receipt Letter, or changed the “Eligibility EC-QC/PNP” status to “Passed.”
- For CEC applicants, the Central Intake Office must have sent the applicant an Acknowledgement of Receipt Letter, or changed the “Eligibility CEC” decision to “Passed.”
- For FSTP applicants, the Central Intake Office must have sent the applicant an Acknowledgement of Receipt Letter.
Although no guidelines have been posted regarding Express Entry, CIC has indicated on numerous occasions that the Express Entry “Acknowledgement of Receipt” which says that CIC is performing a completeness check does not make an individual eligible for an open bridging work permit. Rather, it is when CIC’s Global Case Management System is updated to indicate that the Express Entry application is complete.
Applicants will be issued open work permits valid for a duration of one year. They can be renewed on a case-by-case basis if the permanent residence application has not been processed within that time.
FSWP, CEC, and FSTP applicants’ work permits will be valid for work in any province. PNP applicants’ bridging work permits will be limited to the applicant’s nominating province.