Bridging Open Work Permit applications can be submitted faster

Background: Bridging Open Work Permits and Express Entry applications

The Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP) is a special work permit category, which allows certain Permanent Resident applicants to receive an Open work permit whilst waiting to the PR application to be processed. As the moniker suggests, the intent of the BOWP is to bridge the transitional waiting period from a temporary to a permanent resident. The authority to process such applications, which can be made either online or via paper submission, lies with the Case Processing Center in Vegreville, Alberta.

Regulatory changes from December 1, 2015 and clarifications provided on February 11, 2016

On December 1, 2015, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) released a program delivery update (PDU) informing that certain Express Entry PR applicants can submit a BOWP application immediately after submitting the electronic application for permanent residence (e-APR). Following the submission of the e-APR, IRCC will automatically generate an initial Acknowledgement of Receipt letter which simply confirms that the application has been received, and a file number created. It is no longer required that applicants wait until they receive a second Acknowledgement of Receipt letter from IRCC, which confirmed that a determination with regards to an R10 completeness check had been made. On February 11, 2016, IRCC sought to further clarify the previous PDU, by specifying that despite being able to apply for the BOWP once a positive eligibility assessment had been made, the actual processing of the BOWP will only commence once the completeness check has been performed. Additionally, IRCC specifies that these program delivery instructions will only apply to those PR applicants processed under the Express Entry program. Other PR categories, such as the Provincial Nominee or the caring for people with high medical needs class, do not benefit from this update. Lastly, it is important to note that the processing office will hold the BOWP application, however should the Centralized Intake Office reject the e-APR as incomplete, the BOWP application will also be refused.

BOWP Eligibility Parameters

In order to be eligible to apply for a BOWP, applicants must:

  • be currently in Canada;
  • have valid status on a work permit that is due to expire within the next four (4) months;
  • be the principal applicant on an application for permanent residence under the Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSWC), the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), the Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC), the caring for children class or the caring for people with high medical needs class, or the Provincial Nominee Class (PNC) as applicable to applicants for whom there are no employer restrictions or nominations;
  • have complete one of the following APR stages:
    • their electronic application for permanent residence (e-APR) submitted under Express Entry has passed the R10 completeness check (note: this is the aforementioned second Acknowledgement of Receipt letter. The regulatory changes described above provide a variation to this requirement); or
    • they have receive a positive eligibility assessment on their paper APR submitted by mail under one of the economic classes above;
    • have applied for an open work permit;
    • have paid the work permit processing fee (CAD$155) and the open work permit holder fee (CAD$100); and
    • have provided (only as applicable), evidence (e.g. nomination certificate) that their provincial nomination is unrestricted.

Conclusion

The December 1, 2015 PDU and the clarification on February 11, 2016 by the IRCC will allow qualifying foreign nationals to apply for a BOWP quicker. This change will be beneficial for those temporary residents whom are nearing the expiration dates of their existing work permits, but are still waiting for a completeness check on their e-APR. It can reduce the chances of PR applicants having to depart Canada at the expiry date of their work permits, and provides an avenue to extend their temporary resident status, until a decision has been made on their PR applications.

Contact Us: Dale & Lessmann LLP invites you to contact our experienced Immigration Practice Group for assistance in determining whether you qualify for a Bridging Open Work Permit, or for Canadian Permanent Residence under Express Entry.