Simple Steps to Apply for an Open Work Permit in Canada

An Open Work Permit allows a foreign national to work for any Canadian employer over a specified period of time, offering flexibility compared to job-specific permits.

What is an Open Work Permit in Canada?

An Open Work Permit in Canada permits foreign nationals to work in Canada for any employer and in most occupations without needing a specific job offer at the time of application. This flexibility is beneficial for those seeking employment opportunities across different regions or sectors within Canada.

Types of Open Work Permits

There are two primary types of open work permits in Canada:

  1. Unrestricted Open Work Permit: This type allows the holder to work in any job, in any place, and for any employer in Canada. It is typically issued to applicants who have passed a medical exam or who have no other means of support.
  2. Occupation-Restricted Open Work Permit: With this type, the permit holder can work for any employer but is restricted to a specific job or type of job. This permit is often issued to applicants who have not completed a medical exam or are from countries that do not require a medical exam for entry into Canada.

Who Can Apply for an Open Work Permit?

Eligibility criteria for an Open Work Permit include:

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  • Spouses of Skilled Workers or Students: Spouses of skilled workers or students studying in Canada can apply for an open work permit if the main applicant meets specific criteria.
  • Permanent Residence Applicants: Individuals with pending applications for permanent residence under certain programs, such as the Federal Skilled Worker Program or the Canadian Experience Class.
  • Participants in International Agreements: Individuals participating in international youth exchange programs, such as International Experience Canada (IEC).
  • Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds: Foreign nationals in Canada on humanitarian grounds, such as refugee claimants or those under temporary resident permits.
  • Protected Persons: Individuals who have been recognized as refugees or protected persons in Canada.

General Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for an Open Work Permit in Canada, applicants must:

  • Residency Status: Reside in Canada legally or have legal status in their home country.
  • Forms and Documents: Complete the required application forms accurately and provide supporting documents, such as proof of identity and legal status.
  • Medical Exam: Depending on the type of permit and country of origin, applicants may need to undergo a medical exam.
  • Criminal Record: Have no criminal record and provide a police clearance certificate if required.
  • Financial Sufficiency: Demonstrate the financial ability to support themselves and any accompanying family members during their stay in Canada.
  • Intent to Leave: Intend to leave Canada at the end of the authorized stay unless applying for an extension.

How to Apply for an Open Work Permit

The application process for an Open Work Permit typically involves the following steps:

  1. Review Eligibility: Carefully review the eligibility criteria to ensure all requirements are met.
  2. Gather Required Documents: Collect necessary documents, including:
    • Passport or travel document.
    • Proof of current immigration status.
    • Marriage certificate or proof of relationship (if applicable).
    • Medical exam results (if applicable).
    • Police certificates (if required).
  3. Submit the Application: Apply online through the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website or by paper application, following the instructions provided.
  4. Pay Application Fees: Pay the required fees for processing the work permit application. Fees can vary, so check the IRCC website for the latest fee structure.
  5. Await Processing: After submitting the application, monitor its status and wait for processing to be completed. Processing times can vary depending on the type of application and the volume of applications received.
  6. Receive Decision: Once processed, applicants will receive a decision on their application. Successful applicants may receive an approval letter or a new work permit.

FAQ About Open Work Permits in Canada

How Do I Get an Open Work Permit in Canada?:

Apply online or by paper, providing necessary documents and paying fees. Follow specific guidelines based on your eligibility category.

Application Fee:

As of [current year], the fee for an open work permit application is $255 CAD, which includes processing fees and the open work permit holder fee.

Funds Requirement:

While there is no set amount for funds required for a spouse open work permit, immigration authorities generally expect the principal applicant (the skilled worker or student) to have sufficient financial means to support themselves and their family during their stay in Canada.

Eligibility Criteria:

Criteria vary depending on the type of open work permit sought, such as Post-Graduation Work Permits for recent graduates or spousal permits for partners of skilled workers.

Tips for a Successful Application

  • Prepare Thoroughly: Review all eligibility criteria and ensure all required forms and documents are complete and accurate.
  • Apply Early: Apply well in advance of your intended start date to account for processing times, which can vary.
  • Follow Instructions: Follow the application instructions carefully, whether applying online, by mail, or at a Canadian port of entry.
  • Seek Assistance if Needed: Consider consulting with an immigration advisor or lawyer for guidance on complex cases or specific questions.


An Open Work Permit in Canada provides valuable flexibility for foreign nationals seeking employment opportunities without the constraints of a specific job offer. By understanding the eligibility criteria, gathering required documents, and following the application process diligently, applicants can enhance their chances of a successful outcome.

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