An Open work permit is designed to allow foreign workers the flexibility and freedom to work in Canada. These permits may be tied to a specific employer, occupation, or organization. Foreign nationals who want to work in Canada will also be required to secure a work permit. Open work permits allow for freedom of movement, whether it is between workplaces, occupations or locations in Canada.
There are numerous ways to be eligible for an open work permit. Here are some of the more prominent ways:
International student graduates
In 2021, most LMIA-exempt work permits went to international student graduates who were eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).
International students can be eligible to work in Canada for up to three years post-graduation if they complete a full-time study program of at least two years in length. Study programs that are longer than eight months but shorter than two years may be eligible for a PGWP that matches the length of their program.
To be eligible, international students have to be going to a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada. IRCC has allowed for some flexibility within the eligibility criteria as a result of the pandemic. For example, IRCC is now allowing international students to have completed 100% of their study program online between March 2020 and August 2022.
Citizens of foreign countries with reciprocal agreements
International Experience Canada (IEC) is designed to allow foreign youth from over 30 different countries to work in Canada.
Youth between the ages of 18 and 35 may be eligible for a Working Holiday visa. Participants do not need a job offer, but will need to meet the criteria to be eligible for the IEC.
The IEC generally requires candidates to have the equivalent of $2,500 CAD to cover expenses, not be accompanied by dependents and be admissible to Canada, among other criteria.
Spouses and Common-Law Partners of Canadians
Canada offers open work permit options to the spouse of Canadians, temporary foreign workers, and international students.
Spouses of Canadian citizens and permanent residents may be eligible for a Spousal Open Work Permit if they are applying under inland sponsorship, and living in Canada with their partner.