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Spouses of Some Work Permit Holders Are Now Eligible to Apply for Open Work Permits

Some families could get good news on December 2nd, 2022, when the immigration minister announced. They said the Temporary Foreign Worker Program rules will change so spouses and kids of current Work Permit holders can apply for Open Work Permits. This means that more people can work and contribute to our communities.

Overview of Work Permits & Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The Work Permit system lets foreigners (who aren’t Canadian citizens or permanent residents) work here. Work permits can be obtained through the TFWP, which allows Canadian employers to conduct a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) before hiring foreign talent.

Work permits are issued to specific employers for specific jobs. When they lose their job under an LMIA-based work permit, they must either find another job or leave Canada. Meanwhile, OWPs let foreigners work for any employer and at any job in Canada.

Eligibility changes for OWP

Do you know Canada now offers more opportunities for families of Work Permit holders to immigrate and work there? Recently, the government expanded eligibility criteria for spouses and children of some closed Work Permit holders to apply for Open Work Permits (OWP).

In this move, they’re trying to get more immigrants to work in Canada and possibly settle there. Before now, only spouses of international students and Canadian permanent residents were eligible. It shows Canada is eager to welcome more immigrants with this expansion of eligibility for spouses of work permit holders.

The IRCC expects to get more than 200,000 applications from family members of work permit holders affected by this policy change.

Initially, the program will be a temporary two-year measure in three phases starting in 2023:

Phase 1: Sources of high wages – Workers whose spouses hold a work permit in the TFWP;

Phase 2: Stream for provinces and territories – Spouses of low-wage workers can apply for the TFWP;

Phase 3: The families of agriculture workers – During this phase, expanding employment opportunities for seasonal agriculture workers is critical to Canada’s economic recovery.

IRCC wants to implement these changes to aid the economy, but these dates are tentative. According to Fraser, provinces and employers must still work together on phases two and three.

What is the need for more people in Canada?

Canada has realized more than ever that it needs newcomers since the COVID-19 pandemic started. While immigration has always been important in the country, the pandemic has made it even more critical.

In 2020 and 2021, the pandemic will cause economic turmoil. Jobs aren’t available, unemployment is low, and retirees are quitting. It’s been identified as a key strategy for the recovery and economic health of the country, and immigration seems like a promising solution.

As Fraser noted in his announcement of December 2nd, ten years ago, there were about seven Canadian workers for every retiree who left the workforce. The current ratio of workers to retirees is closer to three, and given the current trajectory, it is likely to decline to two over the next 10-15 years. Canada will only be able to maintain its most vital industries, such as healthcare and education, and it will be able to contribute to economic growth or health if these numbers do not increase.

A policy adjustment such as the one above will be essential to ensuring the continued health of Canadian society. Over 1.45 million new immigrants are expected to be welcomed by the end of 2025, according to the Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025.