On December 2, 2022, the Canadian government announced a two-year expansion of work authorization to spouses and working-age children of temporary foreign workers at all skill levels. According to the announcement, the short-term measure is designed to address gaps in Canada’s labor market amid the country’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the announcement, the only family members eligible for work authorization were spouses of temporary workers in high-skill occupations. The government’s move is expected to extend work authorization to as many as 200,000 noncitizens beginning in January 2023.

Phased Rollout of Work Authorization

To ensure successful implementation, the government’s work authorization plan will be rolled out in three phases.

  • Phase 1: Enables 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 2: Expands the measure to the family members of workers from the low-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, following consultations.
  • Phase 3: Assesses operational feasibility for expanding the measure to family members of agricultural workers, including through consultations with agricultural partners and other stakeholders.

Dates for each phase have not yet been specified, and more details on the expansion plan are expected in the coming weeks. The legal working age for children is determined on a province-by-province basis in Canada.

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