Canada Expands Work Eligibility to Spouses and Working-Age Children

In its latest effort to address the current labour shortages, on December 2, 2022, the Government of Canada announced that the country will expand the eligibility of open work permits to the spouses and working-age children of certain work permit holders under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) as a temporary two-year measure. Before this announcement, spouses were only eligible for a work permit if the principal applicant was working in a high-skill occupation. This temporary measure seeks to enhance the well-being, health, and financial security of workers by keeping families together and in turn, it is hoped that the worker will better integrate into their work environment and community.

This policy change will be applicable to families of workers in sectors such as health care, trades and hospitality and will be implemented in three phases so that it can be rolled out effectively:

  • Phase 1: Will allow family members of workers entering Canada through the high-wage stream of the TFWP or the International Mobility Program (IMP) to apply for an open work permit.
  • Phase 2: Will permit family members of workers from the low-wage stream of the TFWP to come to Canada.
  • Phase 3: Will involve discussions with agricultural partners and stakeholders to determine operational viability for expanding the measure to family members of agricultural workers.

IRCC is anticipating over 200,000 new work permit applications from families of current work permit holders because of this new measure. In the face of its existing labour challenges and a steady flow of retirees, it is clear that immigration will continue to play an essential role in contributing to Canada’s economic health and recovery following the pandemic.


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