The bridging open work permit (BOWP) is a way to keep a worker in Canada working while his or her application for permanent residence is being processed.
In-Canada applicants who have made an application to immigrate to Canada under either the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Class, the Federal Skilled Trades (FST) Class, the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) or one of the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) may be considered for a bridging open work permit if their current work permit is due to expire (within four months). A foreign worker legally working in Canada who has made, or will soon make, an application for permanent residence under one of these immigration programs may then continue to work until a decision is made on his or her application for permanent residence.
This is beneficial for the federal government, Canadian communities and employers, as well as applicants and their families, because otherwise applicants and their dependants (spouse and children) would have to either leave Canada temporarily, stay in Canada under visitor status, or find an employer willing to go through the process of applying for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
An open work permit, which allows its bearer to work for any employer in Canada, is preferable as it provides applicants with better flexibility to integrate and navigate the Canadian labour market, given that they have already been found eligible for permanent residence and are currently working in Canada.
Bridging Open Work Permits and Express Entry
When an applicant for a federal economic immigration program that is processed through the Express Entry immigration selection system submits an electronic application for permanent residence, he or she receives an Acknowledgment of Receipt letter. This letter is automatically generated in the MyCIC account following the submission of the electronic application for permanent residence (e-APR). Applicants who are eligible to apply for a BOWP may apply immediately after receipt of this Acknowledgment of Receipt letter, instead of having to wait for a second Acknowledgment of Receipt letter issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
However, the application for a BOWP will not be processed until the completeness check has been performed at the Centralized Intake Office. BOWP applications received before the completeness checks have been performed will be held until they are ready to be processed. If an e-APR is found to be incomplete, the applicant is no longer eligible for a BOWP. In these cases, the application for a BOWP will be refused.
To be eligible for a bridging open work permit, the following parameters must be met:
- The foreign national is currently in Canada;
- He or she has valid status on a work permit that is due to expire within four months;
- He or she is the principal applicant on an application for permanent residence under the FSWP, the CEC, the PNP or the FSTP;
- He or she received a positive eligibility assessment on his or her application; and
- He or she has made an application for an open work permit.
Please note that a foreign national does not qualify for a bridging work permit if:
- He or she is in Canada under section 186 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (work permit exempt) situations;
- He or she has let his or her status expire;
- His or her work permit is valid for longer than four months and/or he or she has a new LMIA that can be used as the basis for a new work permit application;
- He or she is applying for a bridging work permit at the port of entry.
- He or she is the spouse or dependant of the principal permanent resident applicant; or
- He or she is a provincial nominee who has not submitted a copy of his or her nomination letter with the application for a bridging work permit, or whose nomination letter specifically indicates employment restrictions.
Spouse or Common-law Partner and Dependants
Certain conditions are required to be met by the holder of a bridging work permit in order for his or her spouse to also be eligible for an open work permit:
- In all cases, the bridging work permit must be valid for longer than six months.
- For spouses of FSW applicants, the bridging work permit holder must be performing work that is at a level that falls within National Occupational Classification (NOC) Skill Levels 0, A or B.
- For spouses of PNP applicants, the spouse is eligible for an open work permit for the duration of the work permit held by the principal PNP applicant, irrespective of the skill level of the principal PNP applicant’s occupation.
- For spouses of FST applicants, the bridging work permit holder must be performing work that is within one of the qualifying occupations in NOC Skill Level B.
- For spouses of CEC applicants, there are no set preconditions to be met by the principal CEC applicant.
Dependent children of an applicant in any of these economic classes must obtain an LMIA or have LMIA exemption based on their specific situation in order to apply for a work permit.
When issuing a bridging open work permit to an applicant for permanent residence under a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), the employment location on the work permit must be restricted to the nominating province. Therefore, the province of destination must be selected and then the city of destination value should be selected to show the province/territory.
FSW, FST, CEC
For a bridging open work permit issued to applicants for the Federal Skilled Worker Class, Federal Skilled Trades Class or Canadian Experience Class, there are no restrictions to employment location.