Good news for returning citizens and permanent residents, but it need go further

June 3, 2011

The Citizenship and Immigration Canada Operational Bulletin 229, entitled “Pilot Project for Foreign Spouses and Dependent Children of High-Skilled Canadians or Permanent Residents Returning to Work in Ontario,” has been in force for more than 6 months. Accordingly, if a Canadian Permanent Resident (PR) or Citizen left Canada and later returns to Canada to work in Ontario as a Skilled Worker, his/her accompanied foreign spouse or common law partner and/or dependents may apply for an open work permit.

There are several conditions attached, however. Most prominently, the Canadian citizen and PR must be working as a health professional or as an academic for post-secondary public institutions, and the applicants must be sponsored for permanent residence and the sponsorship application must be approved by the Case Processing Centre – Mississauga.

This represents a progress in the policy. In the past, these spouses and dependents can only work after obtaining their permanent residence, and for this they have to wait 6 to 12 more months at the minimum.

However, the project is not going far enough. The scope of the project is very narrow, limited by place (Ontario) and profession. Compared to temporary residents, there appears to be an unjustified discrimination against citizens and PRs. If you are temporary residents studying or working in Canada, your spouses can get an open work permit almost automatically. But if you are citizens and PRs, you have to sponsor them (which incurs financial obligations) and get some approval before they can work here.

What are the rationales behind this?

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