Applying for a Bridging Visa (BOWP): A How to Guide

I just applied for a bridging visa (BOWP) last week and must admit, I found the whole process quite confusing, if it wasn’t for the good people who are members of the Irish & Applying for Canadian PR Facebook page, I would have been completely lost. As is usual with CIC, nothing is very well explained on their website, so I decided to put together an easy step-by-step guide to help others with the BOWP process.

Firstly, what is a bridging visa? A Bridging Open Work Permit is for those of us who have applied for PR but whose work permits are going to expire in four months or less. This means we can keep working while waiting for a decision on our PR. You can read more about BOWP eligibility here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/tools/temp/work/prov/bridging.asp

Right now, processing times for online BOWPs are 38 days and paper applications are taking 93 days. You can check processing times here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/times/ Usually, people will wait until a couple of weeks before their work permit expires to submit the bridging visa application. Once your bridging visa application is received before your work permit expires, then you automatically go onto Implied Status – again, this is so you can continue to work until you have a decision on your Bridging Visa. I submitted our bridging visa applications (online)  last Thursday (April 21st) and our work permits expire on May 5th. Also, it’s handy to note here that you can also submit a bridging visa application online for your common-law partner.

How do I apply for a bridging visa? As I’ve already mentioned above, you can apply online through your CIC account, or you can submit your application by mail. Many people chose the one with the slowest processing time to give them longer on Implied Status – especially if they know their bridging visa application is going to be denied. I submitted mine online and if that’s what you’re doing, there are two options. Option 1 is to use the “Come to Canada Wizard”,  you can find that tool here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/ctc-vac/cometocanada.asp answer the questionnaire and then you’ll be given a personal reference code which you then input into your CIC account, or option 2 is to log into your CIC account, and under the “What would you like to do today” section, choose apply for a visitor visa, study and/or work permit. At this point it will ask you for your personal reference code, if you don’t have one (I didn’t) then look under “I do not have a personal reference code” and click on determine your eligibility and apply online for a visitor visa, and/r work permit. It will then guide you through the questionnaire.

A few things to note about the questionnaire, as it can be slightly confusing, and if you don’t answer some questions in a particular way, it won’t lt you apply for the bridging visa. When it asks “What would you like to do in Canada?” you should say work, and not move there, as I did at first. For how long do you plan to stay in Canada, you should answer temporarily – more than 6 months, and not permanently (I also made that mistake the first time round). The next tricky question is when is asks about your current immigration status in Canada, you need to say here that you are a worker, rather than a temporary resident permit holder (which is exactly what we are, but who knows why CIC make these things so confusing). Then you will be directed to a page which lists lots of different situations broken into three groups and you have to answer “yes” or “no”. Make sure you answer yes under the section which contains the following statement “I applied for permanent residence to an office in Canada and was determined to be eligible for permanent resident status (first stage approval)”. Even if the review of eligibility is still at “review in progress” for your PR app (as mine is) because if you say no, it won’t let you proceed with the BOWP application.

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Once you’ve answered the questionnaire, the option to apply for a visitor visa and/or work permit will disappear, so if you answered any questions wrong, and it didn’t guide you to a checklist of required documents, then delete that application and start again. Once you answer all the questions in the questionnaire, you will be given a list of documents that you have to submit, most of them will be things you already submitted as part of your PR application; copy of passport, digital picture, proof of your medical exam, statutory declaration of common-law relationship (if you’re common law). If you are common-law then you’ll have to upload Form IMM5713: Use if a Family Member Representative for Online Applications. You will also be required to submit Form IMM5710: Application to change my conditions, extend my stay or remain in Canada as a Worker. This form again asks for a lot of information that you already supplied as part of your PR application such as education, work history, and to note any other countries you’ve lived for more than 6 months in the past 5 years. There is also space to upload a letter of explanation, I uploaded my AOR for PR here. The fees you pay for the bridging visa are $155 for the work permit and a $100 fee for an open work permit holder fee.

Once you submit everything and pay, you will receive a submission confirmation. I believe this can be used to show your employers if they need proof that you are legally allowed to work here after your work permit has expired, you can also print off the information on the CIC website about Implied Status and that along with the receipt should keep employers happy. You can find information about Implied Status here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/tools/temp/visa/validity/implied.asp

I hope this helps when applying for your bridging visa, and if you’re not already a member, join the Irish & Applying for Canadian PR Facebook page – it is a life saver!

Until next time 🙂