Spousal or Common Law Open Work Permits (In-Canada)

The latest announcements by the Minister of Immigration indicates that the temporary foreign worker rules may be become more liberal. A committee of the House of Commons has just completed a report recommending options with regards to the foreign worker program. Recommendations will become public when Parliament resumes in September. The Minister of Immigration, Mr. McCallum, has intimated that bureaucratic aspects of the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) will be reviewed and perhaps radically altered to reduce some of the barriers which prolong the approval of work permits for foreign nationals. Currently most foreign workers require an LMIA which can take months for approval.

It is important to note that such loosening of rules will not impact those who are making applications for in-Canada spousal applications with a work permit attached. Such applications do not require an employer (or an application for a LMIA) in the first place if a person who has married or is in a common-law relationship with a Canadian (or permanent resident) in Canada. If a foreign spouse or partner is in Canada on a visitor status, that foreign national can simply make an application to change terms and conditions from a visitor to worker without seeking an employer and without the need of an LMIA. The labour market impact assessment is totally irrelevant to such an application and the spousal route allows the greatest amount of freedom to work. Thus the rules announced by the Minister will have little impact on the entitlement to a work permit by foreign spouses. They are already allowed to apply for “open” work permits permitting them to work anywhere, for any employer and any wage. This provision, which was instituted in December, 2014, is for the benefit of all in-Canada spousal applications.