There are many ways people can gain permanent residence (PR) status in Canada. Some have used the Express Entry System or the Provincial Nominee Program, while others may have applied through the Family Sponsorship programs.

These are all great programs to gain PR status in the country quickly, but another option that is now gaining praise is the Open Work Permit Pilot (OWPP). This program has been around for several years now, and it began as a temporary measure to allow those seeking PR status more flexibility.

Before the implementation of OWPP, spouses or common-law partners of Canadian citizens who were employed in the country but had still not acquired their PR status had to leave upon the expiration of their visa. 

The OWPP allowed these individuals to continue staying in the country so long as they maintained employment, giving them the opportunity to wait for their PR status without leaving the country.

Because of its flexibility, the OWPP is now becoming a permanent program of the CIC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada). You can learn more about the program and what it might mean for you or your spouse by continuing to the sections below.

How the program started

The Open Work Permit Pilot began back in December 2014. It was initially designed as a temporary solution but has since been extended multiple times due to regulation changes and various other factors. The program was set to expire in July 2020 but is now becoming a permanent program under the IRCC.

Who the program applies to

The OWPP program applies to anyone who is a Spousal Common-Law Partner applicant living in Canada. However, the individual will need to have temporary status—worker, student, and the like—to be eligible.

Requirements of the program

The Open Work Permit Pilot does not apply to any specific employee. This means that foreign workers are allowed to continue working in Canada despite not having PR status. However, this will only apply to those who satisfy the following requirements:

  • Has a spouse or common-law partner with PR status or a citizen of Canada
  • Has submitted an application under the Spouse Common-Law Partner class for permanent residence
  • Lives at the same location as their partner
  • Has a temporary resident status in Canada
  • Is authorized to work and has an approved application for restoration status

Applying for the program

If all the above requirements are satisfied, an individual will be eligible for the program. 

To apply for OWPP, an individual can submit their PR application and their work permit application simultaneously. Those who have already submitted their PR application beforehand can still submit their application at a later date.

With that said, if an individual has received approval in principle from the IRCC, they can go online and apply for the program. Note that “in principle” means that the individual has passed PR requirements but has not completed background checks, medical checks, and the like.

Canadian Visa Application
Canadian Visa Application


Thanks to the OWPP, those who have applied for the Spousal Common-Law Partner program can continue working in Canada while waiting for their PR status without having to leave the country.

However, the OWPP becoming a permanent program is a process that is still in the making, so changes can still occur. That being said, those looking for permanent residence in the country to live with their loved one and pursue a career have a promising future to look forward to.

If you are looking for professional help from a trusted firm, please contact us at or call 1-888-404-8472.

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