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IRCC Announces New Measures to Facilitate Family Reunification for Spousal Sponsorship Applicants: New Open Work Permit for Family Class Applicants

On May 26, 2023, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration announced new measures intended to support family reunification for applicants under the Family Class. The new measures include the following:

  1. New Open Work Permit for Family Class Applicants

Previously, only applicants under the Spouse-in-Canada class were eligible to apply for an open work permit. Under the new Temporary Public Policy, applicants under the Family Class are also eligible to apply, provided they meet the following criteria:

  1. The applicant has submitted a permanent residence application under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class or as a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner under the Family Class that has been accepted for processing by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, and that has not been refused or withdrawn;
  2. The applicant has the same residential address as their sponsor in Canada at the time of application; and
  3. The applicant has a valid temporary resident status in Canada or is within the restoration of status period and has applied for restoration of status.

The Minister also announced an open work permit for dependent working-age children who have been included as an accompanying family member in a sponsorship application. To qualify, the dependent child must also hold valid temporary resident status in Canada and must have the same residential address as the principal applicant and the sponsor.

This new temporary public policy allows applicants who submitted a sponsorship application outside of Canada to now apply for an open work permit, provided they have valid temporary resident status in Canada (for example, a valid visitor visa) and can demonstrate they are residing at the same address as their Canadian sponsor at the time they apply for a work permit.

  1. Faster Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) Processing

The Minister also announced faster Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) processing for spousal applicants, indicating that these applications will be processed within a 30-day time frame. Spousal TRV applicants will benefit from processing measures specific to their circumstances as spouses and dependents. While the Minister’s announcement does not detail what these processing tools are, they indicate that within this cohort of applicants (spouses and dependents) there is a 93% approval rate, and the changes are intended to better facilitate issuance of temporary resident visas to applicants under the family class.

  1. Work Permit Extensions for Open Work Permit Holders with Permits Expiring Between August 01 – December 31 2023

The Minister also announced that spousal applicants, along with other open work permit holders, whose permits expire between August 1 – December 31 2023 will be eligible to apply for an extension of up to 18 months. This mirrors the recent extensions announced for post-graduate work permit holders.