Forward Regulatory Plan: 2022-2024
Regulations amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (Regularizing the Spousal Work Permit Pilot)

Enabling Act: Immigration and Refugee Protection Act


Under paragraph 207(b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada class applicants are eligible to apply for an open work permit only after they have been found to be an eligible member of the class.

A pilot project was originally implemented on December 22, 2014, to address long wait times in the determination of a Spouse of Common-Law Partner in Canada class applicant’s eligibility to apply for an open work permit. The pilot has been extended until regulatory changes have been completed to permanently implement this policy. This pilot allows open work permits to be issued to Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada class applicants earlier in the application process.

The objective of the proposed Regulatory amendment is to permanently implement the policy behind this pilot program, and to ensure that work permits are systematically issued under the appropriate section of the Regulations (paragraph 207 (b)).

The proposed regulatory changes would provide the necessary regulatory cover to ensure that spouses and partners in Canada continue to be able to apply for a work permit earlier in the permanent residence process. This would enable them to work sooner and support their families while they wait for their permanent residence application to be processed.

Regulatory cooperation efforts (domestic and international)

Regulatory cooperation efforts are not required.

Potential impacts on Canadians, including businesses

The existing pilot has been well-received by stakeholders including the Canadian Bar Association and the Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants.

Allowing spouses and partners to live and work in Canada improves integration outcomes since applicants can engage with, and contribute to the Canadian community and economy while they wait for their permanent residence application to be processed.


This is a long-term initiative in the early stages of development. The Department may consult targeted stakeholders. The timing and approach for consultations will be updated once known.

Departmental contact information

Alexis Graham
Director, Social Immigration Policy and Programs, Immigration Branch
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
Telephone: 613-796-5463

Date the regulatory initiative was first included in the Forward Regulatory Plan: April 1st 2019

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