Canada Temporarily Expands Work Permit Eligibility for Family Members of Temporary Foreign Workers

On December 2, 2022, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) announced that Canada will introduce a new 2-year temporary measure to extend work permits to family members of temporary foreign workers, as well as expand the eligibility for work permits to family members accompanying the principal applicant to Canada. This measure was introduced to help address current labour shortages in Canada and assist employers in finding the workers they need.

Purpose of Temporary Rule 

This temporary measure will help temporary workers by keeping families together. Prior to this announcement, spouses were only eligible for a work permit if the principal applicant was working in a high-skill occupation, but now it will apply to all skill levels.

When will this change be in place?

The temporary measure will start in January 2023 and will be a 2-year measure. Eligibility to work in Canada will extend to spouses and working-age children through a phased approach for workers at all skill levels, including 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.

Planned Phases

The temporary measure will be phased in (3) stages to ensure its successful implementation:

  • Phase 1 will enable family members of workers coming to Canada through the high-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the International Mobility Program to apply for an open work permit
  • Phase 2 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 3 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 a record 645,000 work permits between January and October 2022, an amount nearly 4 times more than the 163,000 issued over the same period in 2021.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact us via email at for further information.