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Now eligible to apply for Open Work Permits are the spouses of some holders of Low Skill Work Permit

Sean Fraser made the historic announcement that Canada would work to keep some families of people with work permits together.

The wives and working-age children of some current work permit holders under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program will now be eligible for Open Work Permits (OWP), according to an announcement made by Immigration Minister Sean Fraser on December 2nd, 2022. (TFWP).


What are the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and work permits?

Foreign nationals who are neither Canadian citizens nor permanent residents are able to work here with the use of work permits. Through the TFWP, which allows Canadian firms to file for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) in order to acquire international talent, foreign people can obtain a work permit through one of the several channels.


These work licenses are given out for particular jobs with particular employers. If a foreign national with an LMIA-based work visa lose their employment, they have a certain period of time in which to find another job or depart Canada. On the other hand, OWPs give foreign nationals the freedom to work lawfully in Canada for any business and in any position, free from the same restrictions.

New OWP eligibility adjustments

The opening up of OWP eligibility to families (spouses and children of working age) of select closed Work Permit holders is a significant step toward luring more immigrants to work in Canada and perhaps even settle there. The option for wives of international students, Canadian permanent residents, and citizens to be sponsored by their spouse for an OWP was always available, but the TFWP's widening of eligibility to spouses of current work permit holders shows how open Canada is to welcoming additional immigrants.


As a result of this policy change, the IRCC anticipates receiving more than 200,000 new work permit applications from families of people who already have work permits.


The initiative will be executed over the course of three phases beginning at the beginning of 2023 as a temporary two-year measure:



Phase 1: High-wage stream—for partners of TFWP employees with higher salaries who have a work permit;

Phase 2: Provinces and Territories Stream — For partners of lower-paid TFWP employees; and

Phase 3: Families of agricultural workers would be the focus of phase three, which is focused on this important sector of employment that Canada is working to increase as part of its economic recovery.


These timeframes are still speculative, despite the fact that IRCC is eager to adopt these adjustments to support the revival of the economy. Much of phase two and phase three will still need to be created in conjunction with the provinces and employers, according to Minister Fraser.


Why is Canada in need of more residents?


Canada has always understood how crucial immigration is to the nation's economic, demographic, and societal well-being; nevertheless, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the demand for new residents.


In the wake of the pandemic-affected 2020 and 2021, immigration has emerged as a key focus for economic health and recovery as the nation continues to experience record-high job vacancies, low levels of unemployment, and a steady stream of retirees.


Ten years ago there were nearly seven Canadian workers for every retiree exiting employment, Minister Fraser highlighted in his announcement on December 2. In the next 10 to 15 years, this ratio is anticipated to drop to two from its current level of closer to three employees for every retiree. If these figures do not increase, Canada will not have the skilled labor it needs to maintain its most important industries, such as healthcare and education, let alone its economic expansion or general well-being.


For Canada's society to remain healthy, policy changes like the one mentioned above will be essential. By the end of 2025, the IRCC has already committed to accepting nearly 1.45 million new immigrants (under the Immigration Levels Plan 2023–2025).

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