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How long does it take to get an open work permit in Canada?

Planning to work in Canada and looking for the flexibility to switch employers? An open work permit might be the perfect fit for you.

But before diving into the application process, understanding the processing timelines is crucial.

This article provides a comprehensive guide on processing times for open work permits in Canada.

What is an Open Work Permit?

An open work permit allows a foreign national to work in Canada for a specific employer or multiple employers. This flexibility differentiates it from a closed work permit, which restricts employment to a specific employer and occupation.

Open work permits are valid for up to 12 months and can be extended under certain circumstances.

Factors Affecting Processing Times

The processing time for your open work permit application can vary depending on several factors. Here’s a breakdown of the key influences:

Type of Application: 

There are different streams for obtaining open work permits. Some, like the International Experience Class (IEC), boast faster processing due to streamlined procedures. Conversely, applications requiring a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) might take longer.

Completeness of Application: 

Ensure your application includes all necessary documentation and is submitted correctly. Incomplete applications lead to delays in requests for additional information.

Background Checks: 

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) conduct background checks, which can influence processing timelines.

Country of Residence: 

Processing times can differ based on your home country. Citizens from certain countries might face additional scrutiny or delays.

IRCC Workload:

IRCC’s workload can fluctuate, impacting processing times. During peak periods, applications might take longer to finalize.

Understanding Processing Time Ranges

While specific processing times can change, here’s a general timeframe to consider:

  • Standard Processing: For most open work permit applications, expect a processing window of 3 to 27 weeks. This timeframe applies from the day IRCC receives your complete application.
  • Global Talent Stream: This program caters to high-demand occupations. Applications under the Global Talent Stream are known for faster processing, with decisions potentially reached within 10 business days.
  • Processing Outside Canada: If applying from outside Canada, anticipate a longer processing time compared to applying within Canada.

Checking Processing Time Estimates

IRCC provides up-to-date processing time estimates on its website. You can access this information through the following steps:

  1. Visit the IRCC website (
  2. Click on “Check processing times”.
  3. Select “Work permit” under “Select a category”.
  4. Choose the appropriate processing office and your country of residence.

Tips for Expediting Your Application

While you cannot directly control processing times, here are some strategies to potentially expedite your application:

Submit a Complete Application: 

Ensure all required documents are included and meet IRCC’s specifications. Double-check for accuracy and completeness before submission.

Apply Through the Global Talent Stream (if eligible):

If your occupation falls under the Global Talent Stream, applying through this program can significantly reduce processing timelines.

Respond Promptly to IRCC Requests:

If IRCC requests additional information or clarification, respond promptly to avoid delays.

Consider Applying from Within Canada:

If possible, applying from within Canada might lead to faster processing compared to applying from abroad.


Obtaining an open work permit in Canada is an exciting step towards working in this dynamic country.

By understanding processing timelines, the factors influencing them, and strategies for streamlining the process, you can approach your application with a well-informed perspective.

Remember to check IRCC’s website for the latest processing time estimates and program updates.

With careful planning and preparation, you can navigate the application process with greater confidence

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