What to know about the new policies around Work Permits

The Canadian government is striving to address the Canadian labour shortage by adopting multiple measures, and it is fair to say that supporting immigration is one of the most important of them. Former Immigration Minister, the Honourable Sean Fraser, has made it clear in many occasions that Canada encourages immigration by committing to high immigration targets, and the new Minister, the Honourable Marc Miller, has shown that he will continue to follow the path of his predecessor.

Following this trend, many work permit programs have been recently introduced or extended to facilitate the path for individuals looking to work in Canada. Here is the synopsis of the new measurements introduced since May 2023:

Open work permits for sponsorship applications filed from outside of Canada

Canada has altered their policies to allow some individuals with pending PR applications under the sponsorship stream that have been submitted outside of Canada to apply for an open work permit. As this type of permit was previously only available to applicants that had submitted inland PR applications, the change favours family reunification by allowing some sponsored dependents to join their PR or Canadian family member in Canada as workers while their PR application is in process. Besides facilitating family reunification, this measure is important to reduce labour shortage as it allows individuals that already have family ties to Canada to work in the country and contribute to the Canadian society.

Open Work Permits for H-1B Visa Holders

A new open work permit stream was created to target US H-1B specialty occupation visa holders willing to relocate to Canada. As part of a larger strategy to attract tech talent, this program basically allowed H-1B visa holders residing in the US to apply for an open work permit that would be made valid for three years. Although the program was set to run for one year or until IRCC received 10,000 applications, this cap was reached within 48 hours of launch, which shows how successful Canada was in initiating this program. We are hopeful that the program opens up again later this year or next year to attract more potential candidates from the U.S.

New Innovation Stream under International Mobility Program

As a part of the same Tech Talent strategy listed above, IRCC has demonstrated their intention to create a new stream to address the tech sector, to be launched by the end of 2023. The new Innovation Stream will fall under the International Mobility Program and both employer-specific and open work permits are being considered under this category. The permits should have a five-year duration and they will favour certain in-demand occupations, as well as companies that are identified as contributing to Canada’s innovation goals.

Expansion of Francophone Mobility Program

The Francophone Mobility Program was first introduced in 2016 as a way of celebrating Canada’s bilingualism by encouraging the arrival of French-speaking workers to provinces outside of Quebec. This program allows Canadian employers to hire foreign workers with moderate command of French without the need for an LMIA. Initially intended for highly skilled French-speaking temporary foreign workers, the Francophone Mobility Program is being extended to cover all National Occupation Classification, except for primary agriculture related jobs. This measure is set to last for a period of two years. Although most occupations have become eligible for the program, the applicants must now present documentary evidence that they have moderate language proficiency of French for oral comprehension and oral expression, which has been updated to level 5 of the language requirements.

Final Words

In light of severe labour shortages, it is evident that Canada needs help from foreign workers to back up with the economy growth. With all the work permit programs that are being launched – and other programs that are expected to be announced in the upcoming months- the options seem to be multiplying. However, it is important to analyze all the available options to ensure that the prospective applicants qualify for a program to avoid any hiccups in the process. Hence, assistance from professionals is strongly recommended to make the process smooth and seamless.


Please refer to our LinkedIn page to get access to online webinars or articles posted on the most recent Canadian immigration updates. To discuss the details of your situation, please reach out to our office and we will gladly assist you.

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