What is the difference between an Open Work Permit and a Closed Work Permit in Canada?

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When trying to determine the best method to come to Canada, a very popular option is to apply for a work permit. However, many people are confused about the meaning of an ‘open work permit’ versus a ‘closed work permit’.

Simply put, an open work permit allows the holder to work in any position for any employer in Canada for the length of time stated on the document, whereas a closed work permit limits the holder to working for a specific employer in a specific position for the duration of the work permit.

So how does one get an open work permit? There are several ways. One of the most popular methods to obtain an open work permit is through Canada’s Youth Mobility Program. This program is open to applicants from certain participating countries who are 35 years of age or younger. Participants who are approved receive an open work permit to come to Canada for up to one year and work for any company who will hire them.

If these work permit holders have gained work experience in certain fields, they may be able to apply for permanent residence in Canada under the Canadian Experience Class.

For people who are not able to obtain an open work permit in this way, they may be eligible to apply for a closed work permit. To do this, most applicants must first apply for a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) with a job offer from a Canadian company. This is done through a government agency that is different and separate from IRCC who issues the actual work permit known as Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC). This process is also known as an employer “sponsoring” an employee.

If the work permit application is approved, the document will show the name of the employer and the position to be held, as well as the length of time the work permit is valid. The holder can then only work in this specific position for this specific company for the duration of their work permit. If they wish to change jobs, they have to go through the entire process again with their new employer.

Holders of closed work permits may also be eligible to apply for permanent residence through the CEC program depending on the nature of their work experience.

Spouses of closed work permit holders can also receive an open work permit valid for the same length of time as their spouse’s closed work permit. This means that while the principal applicant Is working for the company that sponsored them, their spouse can work anywhere that will hire them. For this to happen, the spouse must submit application forms and documents together with the principal applicant.

Depending on your education level, previous work experience, age, and language skills, you may be eligible to apply for either an open or closed work permit through Canada’s various programs.

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