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What is an Open Work Permit?

There are two types of work permits in Canada: closed work permits that are tied to a single employer and occupation. open work permits that allow foreign nationals to work in Canada for any number of employers in various locations as also any occupation.


The biggest advantage of open work permits is that they allow for freedom of movement, whether it is between workplaces, employers, occupations or locations in Canada. Open work permits are exempt from some of the requirements associated with obtaining a permit to work in Canada. You do not need to have a job offer or a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment  to be eligible for an open work permit.

Some open work permits may, however, have additional requirements that must be met by foreign nationals. If applicable, these requirements will be indicated directly on your open work permit. 

Who can Apply for an Open Work Permit?

You may be eligible for an open work permit if you fall under one of the following categories:

What are the Eligibility Requirements for Open Work Permits? 

The eligibility requirements and application procedure differ depending on the specific situation of each individual. The following are examples of common reasons that can make one eligible for an open work permit:

– Permanent residence applicants residing in Canada

You and your spouse or common law partner may be eligible for a Bridging open work permit if you reside in Canada, have an expiring work permit and have submitted an application for permanent residence through a federal or provincial economic class program (Note: the BOWP is not available in Quebec, but alternative work permits exist in Quebec).

– Spouses or common-law partners being sponsored under Inland Sponsorship 

Spouses and common-law partners of Canadians or Permanent Residents may be granted an open work permit if they are being sponsored for permanent residence through Inland Sponsorship and meet eligibility criteria under that sponsorship immigration program.


– Spouses or common law partners of temporary foreign workers

You may be eligible for an open work permit if you are the spouse or common law partner of temporary foreign worker who has employment in Canada for a period of at least six months and who resides or intends to reside in Canada. The employment should be in a job corresponding to TEER 1, 2 or 3 of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) and TEER 4 , 5 (only if the wage rate is at or more than the high wage rate as stipulated by ESDC – Employment and Social Development Canada on it’s website).


Spouses or common-law partners of international students

 – To be eligible for an open work permit as a spouse or common-law partner of an international student, you cannot be a full-time student yourself.

 – Your international student spouse or partner must have a valid study permit and be a full-time student at one of these types of schools:

    – A public post-secondary school, such as a college or university, or CEGEP in Quebec

    – A private college-level school in Quebec

    – A Canadian private school that can legally award degrees under provincial law (for example, Bachelors, Masters or Doctorate degree)


– International Graduates and their spouses and common law partners

To be eligible for an open work permit, students who have graduated from a designated program of study in Canada must meet the requirements under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program. To be eligible for a PGWP, a foreign national must be at least 18 years of age and have studied full-time in Canada in a program of at least 8 months at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI). 

You may also be eligible for an open work permit if you are the spouse and common-law partner of a post-graduation work permit holder. These open work permits generally have a validity date that corresponds to the period during which their spouse is authorized to work in Canada.


 – International Experience Canada Participants

Participants in the International Experience Canada (IEC) program may also be able to obtain an open work permit under the Working Holiday category. IEC is open to young adults who are citizens of foreign countries which have reciprocal agreements with Canada. The eligible age range depends on the country, but is usually between 18 and 35 years old