Open work permit pilot program for permanent residence applicants in the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class (LMIA exemption code A74)

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Family reunification is a core immigration priority for the Government of Canada.

As of December 22, 2014, open work permits may be issued under a pilot program to applicants who are in the spouse or common-law partner in Canada (SCLPC) class prior to first-stage approval. The pilot program has been extended until the regulatory changes have been completed to permanently implement this policy.

Under this pilot program, applicants may apply for an open work permit with, or any time after, the submission of their application for permanent residence in the SCLPC class.


Officers will issue open work permits to SCLPC class applicants if they meet the following requirements:

  • a complete permanent residence application has been submitted under the SCLPC class and is currently being processed, or has been received by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for processing
  • a Canadian citizen or permanent resident spouse has submitted a sponsorship application on their behalf,
  • the SCLPC class applicant resides at the same address as the sponsor,
  • the SCLPC class applicant has valid temporary resident status or their application for restoration of status with authorization to work has been received and the officer is satisfied that the SCLPC class applicant is eligible for restoration

For further information on maintenance of status, please see Temporary residents: Eligibility for extending temporary resident status.

The following foreign nationals do not qualify for the open work permit pilot program:

  • applicants who have applied for permanent residence under the SCLPC class and have been refused or have withdrawn that application before submitting the open work permit pilot application
  • applicants whose application for permanent residence is being processed under the spousal public policy (subcategory “PP” in the Global Case Management System [GCMS]) on the basis that they do not have a valid temporary resident status (these applicants must wait until they receive approval in principle to be eligible to apply for an open work permit)
  • applicants who have applied as members of the overseas family class, including those living in Canada
  • applicants applying for the work permit pilot program at a port of entry

Case processing centres will ensure that the requirements for the open work permit pilot program are met. They will also conduct system checks to identify any adverse information on either the sponsor or the applicant that would render the applicant ineligible for an open work permit.

If there is information that an applicant is inadmissible, their application for an open work permit will be placed on hold until a decision is made regarding their permanent residence application and the inadmissibility.

In situations where a temporary resident permit is issued to the applicant to overcome an inadmissibility and where the person is an applicant for permanent residence under the SCLPC class, they may be issued an open work permit under this pilot program, or they may meet the requirements under a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemption (see International Mobility Program: Humanitarian reasons [R208]).

Work permit issuance in GCMS

Under the Application screen, the work permit shall be coded as follows:

Case type: 27

Special Program Code: “SPO” (sponsored spouse or partner)

Province of Destination: “Unknown” or “Open”

LMIA – Exemption code: “A74”

NOC code: “9999”

Intended Occupation: “Open”

Duration: Maximum of 2 years or until the date the SCLPC class applicant’s passport expires, whichever is the earliest

User Remarks: “Pending SCLPC APR”

Conditions: If a medical examination has not been completed, work permits should be open employer/occupation-restricted

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