The Bridging Open Work Permits (BOWP, sometimes referred to as a ‘bridging visa’) is a much welcome innovation from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

In many cases, permanent residence applicants applying from within Canada are on a valid Canadian work permit. The Bridging Open Work Permit was created as a way to keep workers in Canada working while their applications for permanent residency are processed.

IRCC realized that applicants to certain permanent residence programs who had valid work status in Canada — but whose work status may run out before a decision was made on their application for permanent residence — would benefit from a work permit to ‘bridge’ the gap between the expiry of their current work permit and the decision on the application for permanent residence.

Bridging Open Work Permit eligibility

In order to be eligible for a BOWP, applicants must have applied as the principal applicant under one of the following programs:

Applicants applying through Express Entry-aligned streams as well as QSW applicants must have passed the section R10 completeness check. Applicants applying through non-Express Entry streams must have received a positive eligibility assessment on their non-Express Entry APR.

Applicants must also:

  • currently be in Canada,
  • meet one of the following criteria:
    • have valid temporary resident status and authorization to work as the holder of a valid work permit
    • have maintained status and authorization to workvas a result of submitting an application to renew their work permit
    • be eligible to restore their temporary resident status with authorization to work on a work permit
  • select “Open Work Permit” as the type of work permit being applied for, and
  • pay the work permit processing fee and the Open Work Permit Holder fee.

If the permanent resident application is not complete, IRCC will refuse the Bridging Open Work Permit application and will not refund the processing fees. Previously, BOWP had to wait until their current work permit was within four months of expiration before applying — this time constraint was removed in 2021.

Continued below…

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Bridging Open Work Permit for Express Entry applicants

  • When applying for a Bridging Open Work Permit, Express Entry applicants must provide all supporting documents listed in their document checklist. Applicants must also include a copy of their Acknowledgment of Receipt letter. Express Entry applicants receive this letter automatically when IRCC receives the application.
  • There are no restrictions to employment location for applicants under the FSWC, CEC, or FSTC (i.e. the three federal programs managed under Express Entry).

Non-Express Entry applicants

  • Applicants who applied for a program outside the Express Entry receive the Acknowledgment of Receipt letter after IRCC verifies that the application is complete.

Bridging Open Work Permit for PNP applicants

Applicants under a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) should note the following:

  • Applicants who applied under a PNP must not have employment restrictions as conditions of their nomination.
  • PNP applicants must also include a copy of their nomination letter when applying for a Bridging Open Work Permit.
  • The employment location on the work permit must be restricted to the nominating province.

Bridging Open Work Permit for applicants in Quebec

As of August 31, 2021, applicants for immigration to Quebec are eligible to obtain a Bridging Open Work Permit. Previously, these Quebec-based or Quebec-bound applicants were not eligible to obtain a Bridging Open Work Permit.

To obtain a Bridging Open Work Permit as an applicant through Quebec’s immigration programs, applicants must:

  • have submitted a permanent residence application as the principal applicant and as a skilled worker in Quebec to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), and
  • have an acknowledgment of receipt confirming that this permanent residence application has been received by the federal government and that it is complete.

The spouse or common-law partner of the applicant can also obtain a Bridging Open Work Permit, regardless of the principal applicant’s skill level in his or her profession.

Find out more about Bridging Open Work Permits and Quebec.

Spouses/Common-Law partners of BOWP applicants

The spouse or common-law partner of a Bridging Open Work Permit applicant may also be eligible to obtain a work permit in Canada. The spouse or partner may apply at the same time as the principal applicant.

BOWP and their spouses or common-law partners should note the following requirements:

  • In all cases, the Bridging Open Work Permit must be valid for longer than six months.
  • For spouses/common-law partners of FSWC applicants, the work permit holder must be performing work that is considered skilled (i.e. that falls within National Occupational Classification [NOC] skill levels 0, A or B).
  • For spouses/common-law partners of PNP applicants, the spouse/common-law partner is eligible for a work permit for the duration of the work permit held by the principal PNP applicant, irrespective of the skill level of the principal PNP applicant’s occupation.
  • For spouses/common-law partners of FSTC applicants, the Bridging Open Work Permit holder must be performing work that falls within NOC skill level B.
  • For spouses/common-law partners of CEC applicants, there are no set prerequisites to be met by the principal CEC applicant with respect to occupation skill level.

Apply for a Bridging Open Work Permit

You can apply for a Bridging Open Work Permit online here.

When you apply, you must:

  • select “Open Work Permit” as the type of work permit when you complete your work permit application; and
  • pay the work permit processing fee and the Open Work Permit Holder fee.

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