Canadian Open Work Permits

by | Nov 1, 2020

Generally speaking, persons wanting to come to Canada to work, require a work permit. Canadian work permits can either be open or closed.

A closed work permit is generally one that ties the particular work permit holder to working only with the employer who is named on the work permit. A closed work permit also restricts the work permit holder’s ability to work at any other locations, other than the locations that are written on the face of the work permit.

An open work permit on the other hand, is a work permit that does not restrict the work permit holder to working with any particular employer. It authorizes the person to work with any employer across Canada. Generally speaking, it also authorizes the holder to work from any location inside Canada. 

Eligibility Requirements For An Open Work Permit

It is important to note that not all applicants are eligible for a Canadian open work permit. Persons who are eligible for open work permits are limited to individuals from within certain categories. 

Graduate Students 

One of the categories of persons that are eligible for open work permits are students who have come to Canada, studied, and graduated from their designated learning institution. Upon graduation, such students become eligible for a post-graduate work permit. 

This particular type of work permit is an open work permit. It is the work permit that is issued to an eligible graduate from a study program in Canada. With an open work permit, they are allowed to work for any employer and from any location within Canada.

Destitute Students

Another category, which is a less commonly known category, is that of students known as destitute students. If a person is able to show that they fit into this category, then the type of work permit that you would be issued would be an open work permit. 

Closed Work Permit Holders Facing Abuse Or Risk Of Abuse

Similarly, persons who are in Canada on a closed work permit, that is, a work permit that ties them to a specific employer, that are being abused by their employer or that are at a risk of being abused are eligible for an open work permit. The abuse should however be specific or related to the particular job that they have been employed to do under the closed work permit. 

Bridging Open Work Permits For Permanent Residence Applicants

Another category of persons who are eligible for open work permits are persons who have applied for permanent residence in Canada. These types of open work permits are referred to as bridging open work permits. In essence, they serve as a bridge between a person being a temporary resident in Canada and them transitioning to become a permanent resident in Canada. 

Dependent family members of persons who have applied for permanent residence In Canada are also eligible for open work permit. This case is similar to the bridging work permit that would be issued to a work permit holder who has applied for permanent residence in Canada.

Open Spousal Or Common Law Work Permit

The open spousal or common law work permit is another very popular form of open work permits in Canada. It is a work permit that is issued to the spouses of work permit holders in Canada.

Where one spouse is successful in applying for a regular work permit, usually a closed work permit that ties them to a particular employer, and they are eligible to take their spouse or common law partner with them to Canada, then that spouse or common law partner may themselves be eligible for an open work permit. 

This also applies to international students and their spouses or common law spouses. It is also available to persons who are applying under the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program.

Other Categories Of Persons That May Be Eligible For Open Work Permits

Refugees, refugee claimants, protected persons and their family members within Canada may also be eligible for open work permits. 

Persons who hold temporary resident permits may also qualify for an open work permit that would go along with their temporary resident permit. 

Young workers participating in special programs is another category of persons that may be eligible. 


It is important to bear in mind that in case you intend to come to Canada because you fit into one of these categories, the expectation is that there would be other requirements specific to each particular category that must also be met. 

Nonetheless, the important thing to understand is the distinction between a closed work permit and an open work permit. The key difference is that a closed work permit ties a person to a specific employer and often, it also ties them to a specific work location in Canada. 

In contrast, an open work permit allows a person much more freedom in terms of the employer they are going to be working for and also in terms of the locations in Canada that they will be working from. However, only certain categories of persons qualify for an open work permit.

Let Us Help

A work permit is an important document that a foreigner needs to work in Canada. Should you need any assistance putting together the required documentation for your work permit application, we are here to help you with all the complex work.

We are also happy to advise you on the eligibility requirements to qualify for an open work permit and guide you with this particular application. 

Book a call with us today!


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