What is an Open Work Permit?

Open work permits are immigration documents permitting temporary residents to work in Canada. Unlike a standard work permit, an open work permit is not linked to a specific employer, position, or location. As such, an open work permit holder is able to assume most positions without seeking immigration approval, and may change employers without further approvals.

Open work permits may be fully open (i.e., have not restrictions), or may carry restrictions. If the open work permit carries restrictions, these typically apply to work that would otherwise require a foreign worker to have undergone medical examinations.

Who can apply for an open work permit?

Eligibility for open work permits is limited to very few circumstances. The most common examples of scenarios allowing for open work permits include:

i. International Experience Canada Programs which are determined by nationality, age, and education primarily, typically geared towards young workers and working holidays (youth mobility);
ii. Refugee Claimants who have been deemed eligible to make a claim;
iii. Spouses or common-law partners of certain skilled foreign workers in Canada;
iv. Spouses or common-law partners of full time foreign students in Canada;
v. Spouses or common-law partners of Canadians who are the subject of an approval-in-principle in an application for inland spousal sponsorship.

Can I convert a standard work permit to an open work permit?

As a general rule, the answer is no. Unless you are eligible under a specific program which exists, or are eligible through a specific legislative provision, it would not be possible to have a standard work permit converted to an open work permit. Therefore, the majority of temporary work permits issued by Canada are linked to a specific employer, position, and/or location.