Who’s Eligible to Apply for a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP)?

Canada remains dedicated to ensuring skilled workers continue to contribute to economic growth. With the ability to apply for a bridging open work permit – it’s possible to work uninterrupted until you’re a Canadian resident

So what exactly is a bridging open work permit? Well, simply put, a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP) is an LMIA-exempt work permit that allows people who are currently residing in Canada to extend their current work permit while awaiting a decision on their permanent residency application. To be specific, you must have submitted an application for permanent residence in either one of the following categories:

  • Federal skilled worker class
  • Canadian experience class
  • Federal skilled trades class,  or 
  • Provincial nominee program (without employment restrictions) 

What makes me eligible?

The eligibility criteria may differ slightly depending on the specific program you applied under for your permanent residence application. In this case, we will focus on what makes you eligible if you applied under the Express Entry (FSWC, CEC and FSTC). We have detailed the basic eligibility requirements:

You must currently be in Canada (does not include Quebec)

It’s very important that you’re currently residing in Canada at the time of applying for a bridging open work permit. 

You must currently have a valid work permit that expires in 4 months or less

It’s very important that you do not apply too early or too late when your work permit has already expired. Even if you filed an application for permanent residency, you must ensure that your current and valid work permit has at most 4 months validity at the time of filing your application.

You must be the principal applicant on your permanent residence application

Only the principal applicant’s on the permanent residence application can submit a BOWP. Therefore, spouses or common-law partners and dependents are not eligible to apply. 

You have submitted a completed application for permanent residence

If you as the applicant submitted an application for permanent residence, a decision on that application is not made until the appropriate processing office has assessed the application for completeness. A BOWP can be issued only if the permanent residence application has passed the “completeness stage” – otherwise, it will be returned. 

You must have your acknowledgement of receipt letter

It’s so important to upload your acknowledgement of a receipt letter when making a BOWP application. This receipt serves as proof you submitted your “Express Entry” application and is automatically sent to the applicant (usually within 24 hours or immediately) after submission via email. Keep in mind that this does not mean your application is considered complete. It can take weeks for an officer to determine whether your application is complete and if it is not complete – it will be returned [refer to point 4].

Who is not eligible for a BOWP?

We’ll make it easy for you. You’re not eligible for a BOWP if you:

  • Have an expired work permit and must apply for restoration of status
  • Have a work permit that is valid for longer than 4 months or in some cases, if you already have a new LMIA to apply for an employer-specific work permit
  • Apply for a BOWP at a port of entry (POE) 
  • Are the spouse, common-law partner or dependant of the principal permanent
  • Are inadmissible to Canada
  • Are outside Canada

When you submit your BOWP, it is always your responsibility to include all necessary and additional supporting documents and accurate fee(s) listed in the document checklist or seek the help of appropriate counsel. 

If you have any further questions about Immigrating to Canada, please get in touch, call +1 (604) 265-4966 or email.

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