As of August 31, 2021, temporary foreign workers who reside in Quebec and have been selected by Quebec as skilled workers, are eligible, under certain conditions, to apply for a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP).
Holders of a BOWP are able to work for any employer of their choice while they wait for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to process their permanent residence application.
To be eligible for the Bridging Open Work Permit, temporary foreign workers must have:
- submitted to IRCC a Quebec skilled worker application for permanent residence as the principal applicant
- received an acknowledgment of receipt (AOR) from IRCC that confirms the permanent residence application has been received by IRCC and passes the completeness check
Among its features, a completeness check entails an IRCC officer ensuring that the applicant has submitted all necessary forms, information, evidence, signatures, and fees that are required under a given program.
The principal applicant’s spouse or common law partner is also eligible to obtain an open work permit if they are included on the permanent residence application.
The purpose of the policy is to give skilled workers selected by Quebec the support they need to remain employed in the province while they await permanent residence.
IRCC notes on its website that it can take 24 months or more for it to process Quebec skilled worker applications. As such, the initial duration of approved BOWP applications will be 24 months or the length of the applicant’s passport validity. This is to minimize the need for applicants to submit multiple BOWP applications while waiting for IRCC to finalize their permanent residence. IRCC also says any needed BOWP extensions will be for 12 months, however IRCC’s officers have discretion to adjust the length of BOWP extensions based on how long it is taking the department on average to process permanent residence applications.
Getting a BOWP serves multiple benefits. It enables permanent residence applicants to remain in Canada, contribute to the labour market, pay taxes, and to integrate economically and socially. It is also beneficial for Canadian and provincial governments such as Quebec since applicants can contribute to the economy as opposed to remaining in the country as visitors or leaving Canada altogether during the permanent residence application process.
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