February 10, 2021
The Honourable Marco Mendicino
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
House of Commons Ottawa,
Re: Spouses of individuals with Post-Graduate Work Permits (PGWP)
I am writing you regarding the eligibility requirements for individuals applying for open work permits from inside Canada. Currently, some individuals are being denied work permits due to their spouse’s inability to obtain employment as they transition from a study permit to a post-graduate work permit (PGWP).
The Post-Graduate Work Permit Program (PGWPP) allows students who have graduated from a Canadian learning institution to obtain an open work permit to gain experience that will help them qualify for permanent residence through the Canadian experience class within Express Entry. Further, if an individual has a PGWP, it opens the door for their spouse to apply for an open work permit. There are conditions, however: the individual with the PGWP must be able to demonstrate that they are already employed within the National Occupation Classification Skill level of 0, A, or B in order for their spouse to apply.
The way that open work permits are awarded to the spouses of PGWP holders creates challenges for families living in Canada. It is common that individuals transitioning from a study permit to a PGWP may struggle to obtain employment in their field. If these individuals have a spouse in the country who does not meet the criteria for an open work permit on their own terms, they will be denied. This not only puts great economic strain on families, but it also places them at risk of separation.
I am asking that you revisit the eligibility requirements of individuals applying for open work permits from within Canada. Specifically, the PGWP spousal employment requirements should be eliminated or relaxed, and greater emphasis should be placed on the applicant’s previous permit and work history (regardless of skill level).
Finally, a family in my riding of Fredericton is currently facing this dilemma. The husband was recently denied his open work permit because his spouse – a recent graduate on a PGWP – had yet to obtain employment. Since arriving in Canada in 2019, he has supported his wife and young child, but upon being denied his most recent work permit, he has been laid off from his job. Now, with no other immigration pathways, he may have to leave Canada. I would kindly ask for you to review the constituents file that I have attached with their open work permit application.
Member of Parliament for Fredericton