Canada to extend work permits to family members of temporary foreign workers

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser

The Canadian government announced that it is extending work permits to family members of temporary foreign workers.

Prior to this announcement, spouses were only eligible for a work permit if the principal applicant was working in a “high-skill occupation”.

A news release said that this temporary measure “aims to improve the emotional well-being, physical health and financial stability of workers by keeping families together.

“As a result, it is expected that the worker will better integrate into their overall work environment and community.

The news release also said that “expanding the eligibility for work permits to family members accompanying the principal applicant to Canada will also help address labour shortages by assisting employers in finding the workers they need.”

It noted that starting in January 2023, through a temporary two-year measure, Canada will expand eligibility to work in Canada to spouses and working-age children through a phased approach for workers at all skill levels. This would include families of workers in health care, trades and hospitality. As a result of this new approach, it is estimated that family members of more than 200,000 foreign workers could begin working in Canada, offering a greater opportunity for both foreign workers seeking to work in Canada and for employers addressing their labour needs.

The temporary measure will be implemented in three phases, the release pointed out.

Phase One will enable family members of workers coming to Canada through the high-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or the International Mobility Program to apply for an open work permit.

Phase Two aims to expand the measure to the family members of workers from the low-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, following consultations.

Phase Three will include consultation with agricultural partners and stakeholders to assess operational feasibility for expanding the measure to family members of agricultural workers.

Canada has issued over 645,000 work permits between January and October 2022—nearly four times more than the 163,000 issued over the same period last year.