Who can apply for an open spousal work permit


Are you the spouse or common-law partner of a skilled worker or student in Canada? If so, you may be eligible for a Spouse Open Work Permit (SOWP) visa, which allows you to work for any employer in Canada while your partner’s work permit is valid. This type of visa not only provides flexibility for your career opportunities, but also allows you to contribute to the Canadian economy.

Learn more about the requirements, application process, and common reasons for rejection of a SOWP visa, and take advantage of this opportunity for you and your family.

What is a Spouse Open Work Permit (SOWP) visa?

A Spouse Open Work Permit (SOWP) visa is a type of Canadian work permit granted to the spouse or common-law partner of a foreign worker or student in Canada. The permit allows the spouse or partner to work in Canada without the need for a job offer or a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which is normally required for other work permits. This type of permit provides the spouse or partner with the flexibility to seek and obtain employment in Canada, which can be particularly useful in cases where the family needs two incomes to support themselves. SOWP visas can also be applied for from inside or outside Canada, making it easier for families to stay together during the immigration process. Overall, the open spousal work permit is a valuable tool for families to stay together and thrive in Canada.

Who can apply for an open work permit for a spouse?

An open spousal work permit is available to spouses or common-law partners of temporary foreign workers, international students or skilled foreign workers who have received a job offer in Canada. This permit allows them to work in any job and for any employer in Canada without the need for a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). It offers spouses or partners the opportunity to gain work experience in Canada, contribute to the Canadian economy and provide for their family. To apply for this permit, you must meet certain eligibility criteria and follow the application process described by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Eligibility Requirements for a SOWP Visa

To be eligible to apply for a SOWP Canada visa (spouse or common-law partner work permit), the following requirements must be met:

  • The applicant’s spouse or common-law partner must hold a valid study or work permit in Canada.
  • The applicant must be married or living in a common-law relationship with the permit holder.
  • The applicant must apply for the SOWP from outside Canada.
  • The applicant must submit and provide a medical certificate and a police certificate.
  • The applicant must have enough money to support themselves and their family members accompanying them to Canada.
  • The applicant must not have a criminal record and must not pose a risk to the security of Canada.

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How long is a Canadian open work permit for a spouse valid for?

A Canadian Spousal Open Work Permit is generally valid for up to two years. However, the length of validity may depend on various factors such as the immigration status of the spouse and the type of application submitted. It is important to note that a spouse’s open work permit can also be renewed or extended if necessary. Therefore, individuals must keep themselves informed and up to date with the latest immigration laws and regulations.

Reasons for SOWP visa rejection

There can be various reasons why a Declaration of Work and Performance (SOWP) visa application is rejected.

  • One of the main reasons could be incomplete or incorrect documentation. It is essential to ensure that all necessary forms are correctly completed and the required supporting documents are provided.
  • Another reason could be the lack of credibility of the application. The immigration officer may have concerns about the applicant’s actual intention to carry out the proposed work or whether the applicant will comply with the terms and conditions of the visa.
  • Additionally, a prior immigration violation or criminal record could result in SOWP visa rejection. This information may cause the immigration officer to question the applicant’s suitability to obtain a visa.

Some of the other additional reasons for rejection include:

  • Insufficient proof of funds.
  • No presentation or sufficient proof to leave Canada after the end of your stay
  • Not having sufficient proof of a spouse’s employment or education at the IDD.
  • If the principal applicant has already been sponsored by a Canadian or permanent resident of Canada.
  • If the sponsor has failed to financially support the spouse.

It is important to understand and address these concerns before applying to increase the chances of obtaining the visa. Seeking professional advice and assistance could also help ensure that the visa application is accurate, complete and credible.

Are SOWP and dependent PR the same?

No, the SOWP (Spouse Open Work Permit) and the Dependent PR (Dependent Permanent Resident) are not the same. Although both refer to immigration statuses in Canada, they are distinct from each other in terms of status, eligibility, purpose and application requirements.

The SOWP is a type of work permit that allows foreign nationals to work in Canada for a specified period of time. This is generally issued when the partner has a temporary resident visa, such as a work or study permit. It is only valid until the partner’s work or study visa expires.

On the other hand, dependent PR refers to the status of family members (spouses or children) of a person who has already obtained permanent residence in Canada. This allows them to live and work in Canada without needing a work permit. However, not all family members are eligible for dependent care PR, and the application process can be lengthy and complex.

Therefore, although both SOWP and dependent RP are related to immigration to Canada, they are quite distinct from each other in terms of their purpose, eligibility and requirements.


In conclusion, obtaining a Spouse Open Work Permit (SOWP) visa can provide many benefits to spouses of international workers and students in Canada. This not only allows them to work and contribute to the Canadian economy, but it also paves the way for them to permanent residency and, ultimately, Canadian citizenship. Overall, the SOWP visa is a great option for spouses looking to settle in Canada and start a new life with their partner.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • Can my spouse work for a Canadian employer with SOWP?

As the SOWP is an open work permit, your spouse can work for any certified Canadian employer anywhere in Canada with limited constraints.

  • How long does it take to process SOWP in Canada?

The processing time for a Canadian SOWP can range from one month to three.

  • Can I accompany my child on a SOWP visa?

Yes, you can bring your dependent child on a visitor visa (if the child is under 4 years old) or a minor study visa (if the child is over 4 years old).

  • Can I apply for SOWP in Canada?

Yes, the applicant can apply outside or within Canada.

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