Navigating Humanitarian-Based Open Work Permits: A Guide for International Students and TRP Holders

In the complex world of immigration, certain provisions stand out for their intent to aid individuals in precarious situations. The humanitarian-based open work permits under section R208 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) are such provisions. Designed for those who find themselves unable to support themselves financially in Canada due to unforeseen circumstances, these permits provide a lifeline.

Eligibility Criteria for Humanitarian-Based Open Work Permits

For Destitute Study Permit Holders

Study permit holders may become eligible for an open work permit if they are temporarily unable to meet their financial needs due to circumstances beyond their control. This may include situations like economic downturns, political unrest, or natural disasters in their home countries affecting their financial support. The eligibility hinges on demonstrating the inability to continue studies without immediate financial relief, wherein working becomes an essential recourse.

To apply, students must provide:

  • Evidence of financial destitution (e.g., bank statements or letters from financial sponsors)
  • Proof of circumstances beyond their control (e.g., news articles or governmental notices)
  • Confirmation that these circumstances have directly impacted their financial stability.

The work permit issued under these conditions is strictly for the duration of the current academic term and cannot exceed this period unless renewed under the same or different eligibility criteria.

For Temporary Resident Permit Holders

Similarly, TRP holders, who are authorized to stay in Canada, even though they are inadmissible or do not meet the requirements of the law as temporary residents or as permanent residents, can apply for an open work permit if their permit is valid for at least 6 months. The criteria here focus on the lack of alternative means of support, and the need to integrate into Canadian society.

Required documentation includes:

  • The current valid TRP
  • Evidence of no other means of financial support
  • Application forms that show the individual circumstances and needs.

Application Process and Documentation

Applicants must submit detailed evidence that substantiates their claims of financial hardship and lack of support. This can include:

  • Letters from provincial social services
  • Bank statements showing current financial status
  • Detailed personal statements explaining the individual situation

For both study permit and TRP holders, the applications must be paper-based and accompanied by relevant supporting documents. The processing of these permits is handled through the Global Case Management System (GCMS), where immigration officers enter specific codes related to the humanitarian grounds on which the application is made.

Regulatory Framework and Officer Discretion

Immigration officers are provided with guidelines to assess the need for humanitarian-based work permits. They use a combination of legislative flexibility and policy guidelines to make informed decisions that consider both the immediate needs of the applicant and the broader implications of their stay in Canada.


The provision for humanitarian-based open work permits under section R208 of the IRPR is a critical aspect of Canada’s immigration system, offering a necessary support mechanism for those in dire financial situations. By understanding the eligibility criteria and application process, affected individuals can better navigate their options to secure their stay and continue their contributions to Canadian society. As these regulations continue to evolve, they reflect Canada’s commitment to humanitarian aid and its recognition of the complex realities faced by many within its borders.

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