Bridging Open Work Permits

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.

Eligibility

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;

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The following blog post appeared in the June 2012 edition of Canadian Immigrant Magazine.

It is generally recognized that proficiency in either English or French is essential if newcomers to Canada wish to be economically successful here.  While immigrants who cannot converse in one of Canada’s official languages may find some employers who are willing to hire them, their career mobility is limited relative to those who can.  Indeed, numerous recent studies reveal that an immigrant’s language proficiency is perhaps the most important indicator of economic success.

The Government of Canada has taken note of these studies, and has begun implanting language requirements for numerous immigration programs.

The Canadian Language Benchmark

The Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) is the national standard used in Canada for measuring the English language proficiency of adult immigrants and prospective immigrants. It covers four skill areas: reading, writing, speaking, and listening.  Individuals are ranked in these areas on a scale of 1-12.

The Canadian government generally recognizes two tests for measuring an applicant’s CLB level; the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP).  While both use different scales than the CLB (the IELTS runs on a scale of 1-9, and the CELPIP runs on a scale of 0 – 6), their test scores correspond to CLB levels.

Current Immigration Programs With Language Testing

The Canadian Experience Class is the main immigration program that currently requires language testing.  For English speaking applicants, the IELTS is the only test that is accepted in this program.  There are numerous combinations of IELTS scores that applicants can obtain to meet the program’s requirements.  While these vary depending on work experience, a good rule of thumb is that individuals with work experience in management occupations or occupations which require a university degree should score 7 or above in each of speaking,

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In addition to the family class stream and the availability of an exemption to a visa requirement based on humanitarian & compassionate grounds, it is possible for low-skilled workers to immigrate under provincial programs designed to facilitate permanent residency for people in certain “low-skilled or semi-skilled” occupations. In British Columbia, this program is known as the “Entry-Level and Semi-Skilled Pilot Project”.

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Effective August 23, 2010, the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program is no longer accepting applications under either the AINP U.S. Visa Holder Category or the Family Stream. Any applications that were postmarked before August 23rd will continue to be accepted.

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