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Open Work Permits now available to family members of foreign workers under the Agri-Food Pilot

As part of its ongoing efforts to address serious labour shortages in the Canadian economy, over the past year IRCC has been steadily removing restrictions on obtaining open work permits for family members of temporary workers in Canada. Where open work permits were once only available to spouses and common-law partners of workers in skilled occupations, IRCC has recently expanded access to such open work permits to spouses and common-law partners of workers in any occupation, as well as allowing dependent children and grandchildren of foreign workers to qualify for open work permits. The only foreign workers whose family members still cannot obtain open work permits are those with those work permits were issued based on a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) under the Low-Wage Stream, Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program, Agricultural Stream.

As of August 18, 2023, IRCC has further reduced restrictions on access to open work permits by allowing family members of principal applicants under the Agri-Food Pilot to qualify for open work permits, including in cases in which the principal applicant has an LMIA-based work permit in the Low-Wage Stream or Agricultural Stream. In these cases, as long as the principal applicant has received confirmation that they submitted a complete permanent residence application under the Agri-Food Pilot, their dependent spouse or common-law partner, children, and grandchildren may now obtain open work permits.

In addition to creating economic benefits, by expanding access to open work permits for family members of foreign workers, IRCC aims to improve the emotional well-being and financial stability of these families, enabling them to better integrate into their work environments and communities. IRCC has confirmed that it aims to expand access to open work permits to family members of all foreign workers, including agricultural workers, following further consultations with agricultural partners and other stakeholders.