Express Entry and Bridging Open Work Permits


The Prior Law

As readers will be aware, under prior law, effective until December 31, 2014, people who had pending permanent residence applications could, under certain conditions, apply for a ‘Bridging Open Work Permit’ (BOWP). A BOWP allowed a foreign worker to maintain their temporary work status while their permanent residence application was processing. The conditions referred to, to seek a BOWP, were essentially that a permanent resident applicant needed an ‘Acknowledgment of Receipt’ (AoR) of their permanent resident application, and that there were fewer than 4 months remaining on the person’s work permit. Under this regime, the AoR would only be issued once the file was checked for completeness.

The Change

This prior law indeed remains in effect since the implementation of the Express Entry permanent residence application system implemented January 1, 2015. However, in view of the different forms of communication now used under the new system, there has been a modification of the conditions as to when a BOWP can be sought.

Effective immediately, an applicant may use the ‘Acknowledgement of Receipt’ (AoR) automatically generated after an applicant is invited to apply for permanent residence and has uploaded his electronic Application for Permanent Residence (eAPR). In view of the fact that the AoR is automatically generated, there is in fact no check of the substance or completeness of the application prior to the BOWP application.

The Impact

Please recognize, that in light of the requirements under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, a BOWP will still not be issued until a completeness check is carried out. However, under the new guidelines, this review will be carried out by the officers processing the BOWP application at the inland Case Processing Centre in Vegreville, Alberta. The BOWP will still only be issued if it is confirmed complete.

In effect, what the change allows is that an applicant can get a head start on the processing of a BOWP, based only on the (pro forma) AoR. In some cases, this will shave months off the prior waiting time.

The novelty of this scenario is that, as noted, there is at the time of BOWP application, no ‘approval’ or even a completeness check to ensure that the application is substantively valid in any way. Rather, there is only evidence that an application has been uploaded, whether complete or defective.

What You Should Do

For any employee/applicant who has uploaded an Express Entry profile, and has a reasonable expectation of selection for an upcoming draw, and who further qualifies with regard to the four month requirement, etc., it would be prudent to commence preparation of a BOWP application and have it ready to file upon AoR receipt. This will speed up processing of the BOWP, and relieve much of the stress relating to the ‘limbo’ period that exists while awaiting permanent residence approval.

The information in this article is for general purposes only, and not intended as legal advice for any particular situation.

This post originally appeared on Kranc Associates.. Reprinted with permission.

About The Author

Benjamin A. Kranc

Benjamin A. Kranc is senior principal of Kranc Associates, a leading Canadian corporate immigration law firm. He has many years of experience assisting clients in connection with Canadian immigration and business issues. Ben is certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as a Specialist in Immigration Law. He is also on the ‘Who’s Who Legal’ list of foremost practitioners in Canadian corporate immigration, as well as rated as AV Preeminent® in a Martindale-Hubbell peer review. Ben has spoken at numerous conferences, seminars, and information sessions – both for professional organizations and private groups – about issues in Canadian immigration law, and has also taught immigration law at Seneca College in Toronto. In addition, Ben has written extensively. He is the author of a leading text on Canadian immigration law entitled “North American Relocation Law” (Thomson Reuters) and contributing immigration author to the “The Human Resources Advisor” (First Reference Books). Ben can be contacted at (416) 977-7500 ext. 226, or

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