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Canadian Open Work Permit For Spouse

A Canadian Open Work Permit for Spouse allows your foreign partner to take part in the paid labor market in Canada. Spouses or common-law partners who are outside Canada and have not been inspected by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) may be eligible to apply if they meet certain requirements. This can be achieved by submitting an application package that contains all the necessary documents which are mentioned below.

A new work permit has been granted for those who are financially dependent on their spouse. The new permit is called Open Work Permit and it is given to people with a residency in Canada for the primary purpose of being a accompany of a foreign worker or an international student.

Canadian Open Work Permit For Spouse

Canadian Open Work Permit For Spouse

In 2014, the Canadian government started to allow spouses who had already been living in Canada for more than a year to apply for an open work permit while they wait for their permanent resident visa. The open work permit is valid until the spouse gets their permanent resident visa or until three years pass since the date of being granted the initial open work permit. Currently, over 70% of spousal applications are approved.

If a foreign national is successful in their work permit application, they will be issued an open work permit authorizing them to work for multiple employers in any location in Canada while their permanent residency application is processing, or while their spouse has valid status in Canada. The application procedure for the spousal sponsorship open work permit varies depending on the applicant’s status in Canada or the stage of their permanent residency application. Foreign nationals cannot work in Canada without the appropriate authorization. Engaging in any form of employment in Canada without the proper work permit is unlawful and can jeopardize future immigration applications.

Table of Contents

What is a spouse’s open work permit?

A Canadian Open Work Permit for Spouse allows the spouse of certain temporary Canadian permit holders to work anywhere in Canada, for any employer, with few restrictions.

Who can apply for a spouse open work permit?

Individuals who have applied to be sponsored by their spouse, or those whose spouses are in Canada on a study or work permit may be able to apply for a spousal open work permit. The requirements for applying for a spousal open work permit depend on the type of status your spouse has in Canada. For information, use the table below:

CategoryPrincipal applicant’s occupational skill level requirementPrincipal applicant’s minimum work permit length
Spouses or common-law partners of Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP) work permit holders0, A, or B6 months
Spouses or common-law partners of Quebec selection certificate (CSQ) holdersAny occupational skill level6 months
Spouses or common-law partners of provincial nomineesAny occupational skill level6 months
Spouses or common-law partners of bridging open work permit (BOWP) holdersVaries depending on program principal applicant applies under6 months
Spouses or common-law partners of open work permit holders other than BOWP0, A, or BN/A
Spouses or common-law partners of study permit holdersN/AN/A
In Canada spousal/common-law sponsorship applicantsN/AN/A

Can I apply for an open work permit if my spouse or partner has applied to sponsor me?

In order to be eligible to apply for a spousal sponsorship open work permit, a foreign national must have applied for permanent residency sponsorship from within Canada through the in Canada stream of the spousal sponsorship program.

  • If you have not submitted your sponsorship application: The sponsorship, permanent residence, and open work permit applications may all be submitted together in a single envelope in hard copy. Ensure that all supporting documentation and required proof of payments for all applications are included. The applications should be submitted to the Case Processing Centre in Mississauga (CPC-M), Ontario.
  • If your permanent residence application is submitted but has not yet received approval in principle: The open work permit application may be submitted in hard copy to the Case Processing Centre in Vegreville (CPC-V), Alberta.
  • If your permanent residence application has been approved in principle: The open work permit application may be submitted online or in hard copy to the Case Processing Centre in Vegreville (CPC-V), Alberta.

Approval in principle (AIP) means that a person’s permanent residence application has been cleared by IRCC as meeting the eligibility requirements, but the application has not yet passed through processing for medical exams and security/background checks. While this means the application has successfully passed through several stages of processing, permanent residency may still be denied after receipt of the AIP.

A foreign national must have valid status in Canada (visitor, student, worker, etc.) in order to submit a work permit application at the same time as their permanent residence application. If an applicant is out of status in Canada, they must wait until their permanent residence application has received approval in principle to submit their work permit application.

Eligibility requirements for a spousal work permit and visa

In order to qualify for a spousal open work permit, you must meet certain minimum requirements, including:

  • Must be in a genuine relationship with a qualifying foreign national principal applicant, permanent resident, or citizen;
  • Must be eligible to apply as the spouse of a qualifying foreign national, or as an in Canada sponsorship applicant (see above); and
  • Are not criminally or medically inadmissible to Canada

Additional criteria will vary depending on the category of SOWP you are applying under.

How long does a spouse open work permit take to process?

The processing time for a spousal open work permit will depend on what type of permit your spouse applied for. To check the approximate processing time for a particular application, visit Canada’s dedicated webpage.

Can a spouse open work permit be extended?

A SOWP is tied to the permit of the spouse, or ‘lead applicant’, and will only be valid for as long as the lead applicant’s permit. If your SOWP expires, you will need to reapply based on your spouse’s permit.

Spouse open work permit fees

The fee for a spouse open work permit is $255 CAD – $155 for the processing fee, and $100 CAD for the open work permit holder fee.

How long is a spouse open work permit valid?

A spousal open work permit can only be issued for as long as the lead applicant’s permit. If the applicant’s passport is expiring soon, it will not be issued beyond the validity of their passport.

How long does it take to get a work permit after getting married?

There is no minimum amount of time that an applicant must wait before applying for a permit after getting married.

Can I work anywhere in Canada on a spouse open work permit?

Holders of spouse open work permits may work anywhere in Canada, for any employer, with limited restrictions.

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