How to get an open work permit as a common-law partner of a skilled worker in Canada

Updated: Jul 16

This post will explain how I could extend my closed work permit to my common-law partner while we were inside Canada.


I leave here a story with the details of our trajectory concerning the permits to continue in Canada.


If you come to Canada and get a job that classifies you as a skilled worker, you can extend your work permit to your common-law partner or spouse. Here's how we did it.


Table of contents


1. How to know if you are a skilled worker
2. How to know if you have a common-law relationship
3. How to see if you have to apply on paper
4. Forms to fill out
5. Applicant's documents
6. Skilled worker's documents
7. Documents proving the common-law relationship
8. Send the envelope
9. Additional tips


Let's go back to the year 2021 when we arrived in Canada. Aldo and I are a couple who have been together for almost five years, 4 of them living together.


In Canada, if you can prove that you have been living with another person for more than a year, it is considered a common-law relationship which, for immigration purposes, has the same validity as a marriage.


On the one hand, I entered Canada with a one-year work permit under the Working Holiday program, valid until February 2022. On the other hand, Aldo entered Canada with a study permit to take an English course for nine months (this study permit does not allow him to work), valid until March 2022.


In December 2021, I obtained a new work permit to extend my stay; in this case, I received a closed work permit sponsored by the company where I worked, valid until 2024.


Since my work is classified as NOC B (I will explain later what NOC is), I am considered a skilled worker for Canada.


With that information, in January 2022 (two months before his study permit expired), Aldo applied for an open work permit as a common-law partner of a skilled worker.


He had to make this application on paper because the option to apply from within Canada was unavailable online. Finally, after six months of waiting, Aldo got his open work permit, valid until 2024, and I will explain how we did it.


 

Here are the steps we followed to get the work permit.


1) How to know if you are a skilled worker.


A skilled worker in Canada is considered when your job is under National Occupational Classification (NOC) A, B or 0.


As I mentioned, NOC stands for National Occupational Classification; Canada has a list that classifies each job (occupation) with a number so you can quickly identify the position and related duties.


On this official site, you can find out what your NOC should be, and you can filter by job name.


If you find out your job is NOC A, B or 0. You have the first step to be able to extend your work permit to your common-law partner.


Check which NOC your job belongs to | Photo by Media from Wix

2) How to know if you have a common-law relationship


As per the glossary at Canada.ca, a common-law partner is a person who has been living with another person in a conjugal relationship for at least one year. The term refers to opposite-sex and same-sex relationships.


3) How to find out if you have to apply on paper


First, you have to go to Canada.ca and simulate within your profile whether you can apply online or not.


Use the option Apply to come to Canada that appears once you scroll down inside your profile and answer the questions.


Use this option to know if you can apply online | Photo from Canada.ca

According to that result, you will see if the online application is available.


Doing this, we noticed that Chileans were available to apply online if they were outside of Canada. This was not our case, so we decided to do it on paper because we knew that Aldo met the requirements to stay in Canada.


4. Forms to fill out


Once you know that you must apply on paper, you will download a documentation package available at this link.


These were the forms we had to complete:


  • IMM 5556 Document Checklist

You will have a Document Checklist that you will need to attach, marking the documentation you submit on it.


  • IMM 5710 Application to change conditions, extend my stay or remain in Canada as a worker.

This form is mandatory and is where you explain what your current situation is and what you want to do next.


You must include your details, identification, resident status, marital status, passport, contact information, education and employment history.


  • IMM 5409 Statutory declaration of common-law union

I will explain this document later, but in summary, it is a declaration signed by a notary where you declare that you have a common-law relationship.


Check in detail which documents you must complete | Photo by Media from Wix

5. Applicant's documents


As Aldo was applying to change from a study permit to an open work permit, these were the documents he had to submit:


  • Photocopies of the passport pages.

This photocopy has to clearly show the passport number, the dates of issue and expiry, name and date of birth, the stamp made by the Canadian authorities on the most recent entry into Canada and any other marked page.


  • Photocopy of his current immigration document

In this case, Aldo presented his study permit.


  • Proof of payment

Once he had all the documentation, he could pay through the Canada.ca portal, and the system gave him proof of payment which we also printed and sent to IRCC on paper.


The cost of this work permit was 255 CAD. 155 CAD for the work permit and 100 CAD for the open work permit fee.


  • Explanation Letter

It is not a required document, but we decided to include a letter explaining why Aldo was applying on paper and not online.


It also clarifies our permit deadlines and why we believe he qualified for an open work permit.


If you want to do something similar, send me a DM on Instagram and I can share what we included there.


A letter of explanation is not mandatory, but we included one with the applicant's signature. | Photo by Media from Wix

6. Skilled worker's documents


As I mentioned at the beginning, the work permit that Aldo was applying for was the open work permit as a common-law partner of a skilled worker (me).


Therefore, the application consists of sending a series of documents proving my status. These were the documents we sent:


  • Work permit

My current work permit, which in this case was a closed work permit valid until 2024.


  • Letter from employer

I needed to ask my employer for a letter explaining my NOC, confirming that it was NOC B.


  • Pay stubs

As additional proof, we attached the last three pay slips I received from my job.


  • Job offer

We sent the job offer I received stating the date of hire to work and the address where I was working.


  • Job Description

In addition, we attached the job description, which matches the NOC description I was performing.



7. Documents proving the common-law relationship


Finally, we have to attach a series of documents that prove that our relationship was real; these were the documents.


  • Declaration of common-law relationship (IMM 5409)

To complete this form, we pre-filled the content of the form indicating the initial date of our relationship and listing the evidence that we have shared accounts, shared credit cards, life insurance, etc.


We went to a notary with all the evidence, and the notary signed.


If you are in the Toronto area and don't know where to go to sign, send me a DM on Instagram, and I can give you the contact.


The paperwork was simple, and the signing cost about 13 CAD or similar.


  • Supporting photos.


You need to add photos to show that you have been with that person. We created a 3-page PDF and included 4-5 photos on each page, including the event, location and date we were there.


We included photos with Aldo's family, my family, trips together and photos showing when we moved into our apartment together. We tried to cover all the years together with highlights.


  • Supporting documents


In the Statutory declaration of the common-law union, we had to mention evidence that we shared an address. We included the following information.


  • The electric bill with Julieta's name to prove my address in Chile.

  • The cable TV bill with Aldo's name shows that we shared the same address in Chile.

  • Life insurance showed that Aldo was the beneficiary.

  • Shared credit card

  • Bank statements in Canada to prove that our address is the same here.


8. Send the envelope


Once you have retrieved all the documentation and reviewed it gazillion times (we did).


Go to this page to make sure you are sending the envelope to the correct address and send the sealed envelope.


At the end of that page, you should mark the option that applies to your case to know where you should send the envelope.


In our case, we marked the following options, and we must send the envelope to an address in Edmonton, Alberta.


Use this option to check where you should send the envelope | Photo from Canada.ca

9. Additional tips


Of course, we made a couple of mistakes, so please pay attention to the following:


  • Don't send the envelope without proof of receipt.

We made this mistake and never knew if the envelope was received.


We sent it by Canada Post and did not realize we did not ask for proof of receipt. So please send it with this or another agency and ALWAYS ask for an acknowledgement of receipt where a person signs for it at the destination, so you will have confirmation that your envelope arrived.


It was painful to send several emails to IRCC for confirmation of receipt. After two months, we received an email confirming that the envelope was there.


Make sure you ask for proof of receipt | Photo by Mika Baumeister

  • Validity of the Statutory declaration of common-law union

It is valid for three months, so don't sign it in advance if you are not going to send the application yet.


  • Proof of payment

Make sure you are paying the correct amount. If you forget to include any fees, your application will come back, and you will need more time to process it.


The cost of this work permit was 255 CAD. 155 CAD for the work permit and 100 CAD for the open work permit fee.

  • Organize the documents inside the envelope

Remember that a human will be reviewing your application, so be sure to organize the documents logically.


We include some clips and follow the order of the document checklist to make it easier for the IRCC agent to review.


Organize the documents in the envelope to facilitate the review | Photo by Media from Wix

  • Be patient


This process takes time; in our case, it was a six-month wait. So make sure you send in the paperwork as soon as you have the work permit and ensure you have saved money to maintain yourselves while you wait because you won't be able to work.


  • Apply early


The recommendation is to apply at least 30 days before your current permit expires. We did it 60 days before the study permit expired because we knew it would take time to process.


  • Maintained status


If you submit your application before the previous permit expires, your partner will have maintained a status that allows him/her to stay in Canada. This is held as long as you are in Canada.


 

I hope this post has shown you some light on how you can extend your partner's stay from your work permit.


And, of course, this is not immigration advice; it is just how we completed this process. Make sure you read the official information in Canada.ca and check if any other document is needed according to your case.


If you have any questions, feel free to contact me by email or send me a DM on Instagram.

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