New rules for open spousal work permits in Canada


Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) shared more information regarding the amendment Spouse Open Work Permits (SOWP) terms.

On January 22, 2024, IRCC introduced significant changes to Canada’s international student program earlier this year. The ministry said spouses of international undergraduate students will no longer be eligible for the Spouse Open Work Permit (SOWP).

In the latest development, IRCC introduced a new rule allowing common-law spouses and spouses of international students to be eligible for POS if their sponsor is admitted to a postgraduate Or doctoral program at a university or polytechnic institution in Canada.
Spouses or common-law partners of undergraduate students enrolled in specific professional degree programs may also apply for SOWP. These professional degree programs are:

  • Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS, DMD)
  • Bachelor of Laws or Juris Doctor (LLB, JD, BCL)
  • Doctor of Medicine (MD)
  • Doctor of Optometry (OD)
  • Pharmacy (PharmD, BS, BSc, BPharm)
  • Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN, BSN, BNSc)
  • Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.)
  • Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng., BE, BASc)

What is the application process for an open spousal work permit?

Spouses and common-law partners can apply for SOWP inside or outside Canada. The application process involves submitting the required forms, proof of marriage or proof of common-law relationship. There are also three main documents required to produce the application:

  • A valid Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from a Designated Educational Institution (DLI).
  • Proof of admission of spouses or common-law partners to the designated educational institution (DEI).
  • Transcripts from their spouse or partner’s current program.

What if I have already applied before March 19, 2024?

Spouses or common-law partners who have already submitted a POS application previously March 19, 2024must meet the following criteria:

  • Must have a valid study permit.
  • Must be eligible for Postgraduate Work Permit (PGWP).
  • Must be a full-time student at the following institutions:
  • A public post-secondary college, university or CEGEP in Quebec.
  • A private establishment offering college-level educational programs in Quebec.
  • A private school that can legally grant bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

What will be the processing time?

The time required to process open spousal work permits may differ depending on factors such as the workload of the immigration office and the scope of your application. It is recommended to submit your application well in advance of the expected start date of work in order to meet processing times.

Are there any alternatives?

THE Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) On February 28, Immigration Minister Marc Miller said volume and integrity issues were the main concerns.

The main reason for SOWP is family reunification, but if a person is not eligible for the work permit, they can apply for another type of work permit, such as the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program (IMP).

Spouses and common-law partners can also apply for a visitor visa, which is easier to obtain. However, people who arrive in Canada as visitors are not allowed to work.

feel free to contact our experts for any questions relating to the spouse’s open work permit.

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