Immigrating to Canada always seems like a simple and straightforward thing as long as you focus on the best-case scenario. Unfortunately, life rarely follows the best-case route, which means you need to plan and prepare for various contingencies and issues not just when thinking to apply for Canada PR but also after you have submitted your PR application.
Here is a common scenario.
You are on a work permit in Canada and have submitted your PR application.
A final decision on your PR application is pending but your work permit is valid for less than four months.
You will lose legal status to stay in Canada once your work permit expires. To continue to stay in Canada on an expired work permit is a major violation of the law and will put your PR application at risk.
But, to pack up and return to your home country is not practical either because this too may have an adverse impact on your PR application.
This is where having an immigration professional to advise and guide you can be extremely beneficial. Instead of choosing between two bad options, you should focus on a third solution—the Bridging Open Work Permit.
What is the Bridging Open Work Permit?
As the name suggests, the BOWP allows you to bridge the gap between the end of validity of your current work permit and the pending decision on your PR application.
When Can I Apply for the BOWP?
Unlike the standard work permit or even an open work permit, not everybody can apply for the BOWP. You must fulfill these conditions to become eligible to apply.
- You have already applied for PR through Express Entry or a PNP stream or in Quebec or through any other PR program in Canada.
- You are in Canada at the time of applying for the BOWP and have a valid work permit in hand.
- Your work permit’s validity is less than four months i.e. it will expire within four months.
If you fulfill these conditions, then you can apply for a BOWP that will remain valid until a final decision on your PR application.
If you receive PR, then your Certificate of Permanent Residence will become proof of your legal status in Canada and you won’t require any work permit or other document to work, live, and settle in Canada.
If your PR application is rejected, then the validity of the BOWP too will end and you will have no further status in Canada unless you apply and obtain a work or study permit or even a Temporary Resident Permit to have legal status in the country. If you fail to do so or if your application is rejected, then you will have to exit Canada.
Important Points about the BOWP
Merely getting an ITA won’t suffice. You must have submitted the PR application with all the required documents and a final decision must be pending on your file. The ‘final decision’ aspect is important because it means you cannot qualify for a BOWP by filing an incomplete PR application and using the time period when the government seeks complete details and all the required information to continue to stay in Canada.
If you are a PNP applicant, then your nomination must be subject to employment restrictions. The BOWP will be issued only for the province for which you have been nominated. Since the BOWP is an open work permit, you can work with any employer but only within the province from which you have been nominated for permanent residence.
Until recently, the BOWP was not available in Quebec. But, the latest rules allow applicants to Quebec’s PR programs too to use the BOWP to extend legal status in Canada pending a final decision on a PR application.
Play it Smart and Seek Immigration Assistance
The last thing you want is to spoil your chances of qualifying for PR in Canada for something as stupid is staying in the country as an illegal immigrant. Ideally, the PR process should get completed well before your work permit expires.
However, with the pandemic leading to a sharp increase in processing times, it’s better to play it safe and to keep all options on the table. The safest option would be work with an immigration professional who has the required knowledge and experience to guide you through the various options at your disposal, including the BOWP.