Bridging open work permits (BOWPs) for certain federal economic class applicants (International Mobility Program [IMP])

All in-Canada visitor record, study permit and work permit applications must be submitted electronically, with some exemptions. See the list of programs that are exempt from the mandatory electronic application requirement.

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

See Bridging open work permits  (BOWPs) for caregivers for information about the BOWP under the new Home Child-Care Provider Pilot (HCCPP) and Home Support Worker Pilot (HSWP).

Qualifying foreign nationals currently in Canada who meet program eligibility requirements may be considered for a work permit to bridge the gap between the expiry of their current work permit and the final decision on their application for permanent residence (APR). They must have submitted an APR under one of the following classes:

  • federal skilled worker class (FSWC)
  • Canadian experience class (CEC)
  • federal skilled trades class (FSTC)
  • caring for children class or caring for people with high medical needs class (if the APR has been submitted on or before June 18, 2019)
  • provincial nominee class (PNC), for applicants for whom there are no employer restrictions on nominations

For certain employer-driven streams in the PNC, the nominating province or territory may impose employment restrictions on a successful nominee until the person becomes a permanent resident. If employment restrictions are imposed, IRCC does not issue an open work permit to the foreign national under the BOWP Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemption.

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Eligibility parameters for BOWPs

To be eligible for a BOWP, foreign nationals must

  • be currently in Canada
  • have valid status on a work permit that is due to expire within the next 4 months
  • be the principal applicant on an APR under the FSWC, the CEC, the FSTC, the PNC (see note below) or 1 of the 2 caregiver classes (submitted on or before June 18, 2019)
  • have completed one of the following APR stages:
    • electronic application for permanent residence (e-APR) submitted under Express Entry has passed the section 10 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) completeness check; or
    • receipt of a positive eligibility assessment on their paper APR submitted by mail under one of the economic classes above
  • have applied for an open work permit
  • have paid the work permit processing fee and the open work permit holder fee
  • have provided, as applicable, evidence that their provincial nomination is unrestricted (for example, nomination certificate)

Note: Foreign nationals in the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) are eligible for a BOWP only if they have provided a copy of the nomination letter issued by the nominating province or territory along with their application, and there is no indication that employment restrictions exist as conditions of the nomination.

The following foreign nationals do not qualify for a BOWP:

  • foreign nationals in Canada under section R186 who are exempt from the work permit requirement
  • foreign nationals who have let their status expire and must apply for restoration to return to temporary resident status
  • foreign nationals whose work permits are valid for longer than 4 months or who already have a new LMIA that can be used as the basis for a new work permit application
  • foreign nationals applying for a BOWP at a port of entry (POE) or visa office
  • spouses and dependants of principal permanent resident applicants
  • foreign nationals who are inadmissible to Canada

Permanent residence application stage

Express Entry Determining if an e-APR has passed the completeness check

If a foreign national submits an APR using Express Entry, they may apply for a BOWP if they meet the eligibility requirements. However, a decision on the application is not be made until the Centralized Intake Office (CIO) has assessed the e-APR for completeness. A BOWP can be issued only if the e-APR has passed the section R10 completeness check.

Before issuing a BOWP, officers must check the Global Case Management System (GCMS) to ensure that the CIO has reviewed the application and determined that it meets the requirements of a complete application, as described in sections R10 and R12.01. If the e-APR is incomplete, the application for a BOWP must be refused. The open work permit holder fee can be refunded, but the processing fees cannot.

Complete application: The CIO enters the following note in GCMS: “R10 OK.”

Incomplete application: The CIO cancels the e-APR and enter the following note in GCMS: “E-APR rejected as incomplete. Client not eligible for BOWP.”

Applicants applying for a BOWP must include a copy of their “Acknowledgment of receipt – Application for permanent residence” letter with their open work permit application.

Paper APR Determining if a positive eligibility decision has been made

If the paper APR under one of the qualifying economic classes was submitted by mail prior to January 1, 2015, or has been submitted outside of Express Entry system, it must have a positive eligibility assessment for the foreign national to be eligible for a BOWP.

The positive eligibility assessment is considered to be made once the status of the “Eligibility” field in GCMS is set to “Passed” (or “Met” for FSWC applications submitted prior to January 1, 2015), or an acknowledgment of receipt letter or email has been sent to the applicant.

Applicants applying for a BOWP must include a copy of their acknowledgment of receipt letter with their open work permit application.

Determining if nomination has employment restrictions

To determine if the applicant is subject to restrictions on employment, a nomination template letter has been provided to all provinces and territories. Different versions of the letter have already been implemented by several provinces and territories and are in the process of being implemented by all other provinces and territories.

This letter contains one of the following boxes, which IRCC officers can use to determine if there are employment restrictions on the nomination. Provinces and territories have been instructed to choose “Yes” or “No” in the “Restrictions on Employment” field, as this provides IRCC officers with confirmation of whether or not the nominee is, in fact, eligible to apply for a BOWP.

Provinces and territories may include an employer or the name of the occupation and the National Occupational Classification (NOC) code and still indicate that there are no employment restrictions. In these cases, the applicants are eligible for an open work permit, provided they meet the other eligibility criteria. A separate letter from the applicant or the nominating province to confirm that no employment restrictions exist should not be requested.

For previous versions of nomination letters (not template letters), if there is no specific indication on the letter that there are employment restrictions, the applicant is eligible for an open work permit, provided they meet the other eligibility criteria. A separate letter from the applicant or the nominating province to confirm that no employment restrictions exist should not be requested.

Note: As provinces and territories implement the new nomination letters, processing officers may see both old and new nomination letter formats. Both versions of the nomination letter are acceptable.

Provinces and territories may include an employer or the name of the occupation and the National Occupational Classification (NOC) code and still indicate that there are no employment restrictions. In these cases, the applicants are eligible for an open work permit, provided they meet the other eligibility criteria. A separate letter from the applicant or the nominating province to confirm that no employment restrictions exist should not be requested.

For previous versions of nomination letters (not template letters), if there is no specific indication on the letter that there are employment restrictions, the applicant is eligible for an open work permit, provided they meet the other eligibility criteria. A separate letter from the applicant or the nominating province to confirm that no employment restrictions exist should not be requested.

Note: As provinces and territories implement the new nomination letters, processing officers may see both old and new nomination letter formats. Both versions of the nomination letter are acceptable.

Issuing a BOWP

Applicants must submit an Application to Change Conditions, Extend my Stay or Remain in Canada as a Worker form Application to Change Conditions, Extend My Stay or Remain in Canada as a Worker form [IMM 5710] (PDF, 442 KB), indicating that they are applying for an open work permit.

Work permit applications are processed per the information provided by the foreign national. The response to “What type of work permit are you applying for?” must be “open work permit” to meet the eligibility requirements. Officers ensure the applicants meet the eligibility requirements, regardless of whether or not an employer’s name is mentioned.

If it is clear that complex or contentious issues or concerns exist on the APR, the work permit application should be referred to a local office for additional review. Once satisfied that any complex or contentious issues have been resolved, the local office can issue the work permit following these same instructions.

Upon receipt of the application, the processing office confirms the following:

  • The APR under one of the economic classes (FSWC, CEC, FSTC, 2 caregiver classes [submitted on or before June  18, 2019] and PNC [with no employment restrictions as a condition of the nomination, as specified above]) has passed the required permanent residence application stage.
  • The foreign national is currently in Canada.
  • The foreign national currently holds a valid work permit that expires within the next 4  months, and there are no other issues of concern.
  • The work permit application is for an open work permit (per the “Details of Intended Work in Canada” section).
  • The open work permit holder fee has been paid in addition to the processing fee.
  • The applicant is not inadmissible to Canada.

To determine if the applicant is subject to restrictions on employment, a nomination template letter has been provided to all provinces and territories. Different versions of the letter have already been implemented by several provinces and territories and are in the process of being implemented by all other provinces and territories.

This letter contains one of the following boxes, which IRCC officers can use to determine if there are employment restrictions on the nomination. Provinces and territories have been instructed to choose “Yes” or “No” in the “Restrictions on Employment” field, as this provides IRCC officers with confirmation of whether or not the nominee is, in fact, eligible to apply for a BOWP.

Provinces and territories may include an employer or the name of the occupation and the National Occupational Classification (NOC) code and still indicate that there are no employment restrictions. In these cases, the applicants are eligible for an open work permit, provided they meet the other eligibility criteria. A separate letter from the applicant or the nominating province to confirm that no employment restrictions exist should not be requested.

For previous versions of nomination letters (not template letters), if there is no specific indication on the letter that there are employment restrictions, the applicant is eligible for an open work permit, provided they meet the other eligibility criteria. A separate letter from the applicant or the nominating province to confirm that no employment restrictions exist should not be requested.

Note: As provinces and territories implement the new nomination letters, processing officers may see both old and new nomination letter formats. Both versions of the nomination letter are acceptable.

Provinces and territories may include an employer or the name of the occupation and the National Occupational Classification (NOC) code and still indicate that there are no employment restrictions. In these cases, the applicants are eligible for an open work permit, provided they meet the other eligibility criteria. A separate letter from the applicant or the nominating province to confirm that no employment restrictions exist should not be requested.

For previous versions of nomination letters (not template letters), if there is no specific indication on the letter that there are employment restrictions, the applicant is eligible for an open work permit, provided they meet the other eligibility criteria. A separate letter from the applicant or the nominating province to confirm that no employment restrictions exist should not be requested.

Note: As provinces and territories implement the new nomination letters, processing officers may see both old and new nomination letter formats. Both versions of the nomination letter are acceptable.

Issuing a BOWP

Applicants must submit an Application to Change Conditions, Extend my Stay or Remain in Canada as a Worker form Application to Change Conditions, Extend My Stay or Remain in Canada as a Worker form [IMM 5710] (PDF, 442 KB), indicating that they are applying for an open work permit.

Work permit applications are processed per the information provided by the foreign national. The response to “What type of work permit are you applying for?” must be “open work permit” to meet the eligibility requirements. Officers ensure the applicants meet the eligibility requirements, regardless of whether or not an employer’s name is mentioned.

If it is clear that complex or contentious issues or concerns exist on the APR, the work permit application should be referred to a local office for additional review. Once satisfied that any complex or contentious issues have been resolved, the local office can issue the work permit following these same instructions.

Upon receipt of the application, the processing office confirms the following:

  • The APR under one of the economic classes (FSWC, CEC, FSTC, 2 caregiver classes [submitted on or before June  18, 2019] and PNC [with no employment restrictions as a condition of the nomination, as specified above]) has passed the required permanent residence application stage.
  • The foreign national is currently in Canada.
  • The foreign national currently holds a valid work permit that expires within the next 4  months, and there are no other issues of concern.
  • The work permit application is for an open work permit (per the “Details of Intended Work in Canada” section).
  • The open work permit holder fee has been paid in addition to the processing fee.
  • The applicant is not inadmissible to Canada.

Note (available internally only): The processing office must check GCMS for any info-alerts or lookouts before issuing a BOWP.

The open work permit is issued under the authority of paragraph R205(a) and coded as follows:

  • LMIA exemption code: A-75
  • NOC: 9999
  • Intended Occupation: open
  • Case Type: 27 – Under examination
  • Duration: 12 months

Subsequent requests from applicants to extend their stay on an open work permit are to be considered on a case‑by‑case basis.

If a medical examination has not been previously conducted, or if its result has expired, the office must impose the following conditions:

  • not authorized to work in childcare, primary or secondary school teaching, or health services field occupations
  • not authorized to work in agricultural occupations (designated countries only)

Note: In all cases, the officers must include this remark: “APR Pending”. This remark, in addition to the “Case Type” code, ensures eligibility for continued health care coverage by the province or territory.

Employment location

PNC

When a BOWP is being issued to an applicant for permanent residence under the PNC, the employment location on the work permit must be restricted to the nominating province. Therefore, the “Province of Destination” value must be selected, followed by the “City of Destination” value, to show the province or territory as “NES” (not elsewhere stated), as in the following example:

  • Province of Destination: AB
  • City of Destination: Alberta NES

FSWC, FSTC, CEC and caregiver classes (caring for children class and caring for people with high medical needs class)

For a BOWP issued to FSWC, FSTC, CEC or caregiver class applicants, there are no restrictions to employment location. Therefore, the “Province of Destination” value must be set to “UNK” (unknown) first, and then the “City of Destination” value of “Unknown” can be selected as follows:

  • Province of Destination: UNK
  • City of Destination: Unknown

Spouse or common‑law partner and dependants

See Public policy, competitiveness and economy instructions for conditions that must be met by the holder of a BOWP for their spouse or common-law partner to be also eligible for an open work permit under subparagraph  R205(c)(ii) as a spouse or common-law partner of a skilled worker.

In all cases, the BOWP must be valid for longer than 6 months.

Dependent children of a permanent residence applicant in any of these economic classes must obtain an LMIA or have an LMIA exemption based on their specific situation to apply for a work permit.

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