Are you looking to immigrate to Canada? Is your spouse or common-law partner a Canadian citizen or permanent resident? If so, there is good news.

Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) has extended the Spousal Sponsorship Open Work Permit Pilot Program (the “Pilot Program”) until January 31, 2019. This latest extension is the third extension since the Pilot Program launched in 2014.

The Pilot Program applies to spouses and common-law partners seeking permanent residency under the spouse or common-law partner in Canada (“SCLPC”) class. Under the Pilot Program IRCC may issue an open work permit to the applicant within four months of receiving a completed sponsorship application made from inside Canada. An open work permit allows the sponsored spouse to work in Canada while their permanent residency application is processed.

To be eligible for an open work permit, the spouse or common-law partner must be living in Canada at the same address as his or her sponsor and must have valid temporary resident status, as either a visitor, student or worker. The Pilot Program does not apply to spousal sponsorship applications made outside of Canada.

There was some expectation that the Pilot Program would be made a permanent part of the spousal sponsorship process. For now it appears IRCC is keeping it as a temporary component. Couples contemplating a spousal sponsorship application should keep this in mind as there is still no guarantee the Pilot Program will exist beyond January 31, 2019.

See IRCC’s latest notice regarding the Pilot Program.