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.
A spouse open work permit allows the spouse of certain temporary Canadian permit holders to work anywhere in Canada, for any employer, with few restrictions.
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:
|Category||Principal applicant’s occupational skill level requirement||Principal applicant’s minimum work permit length|
|Spouses or common-law partners of Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP) work permit holders||0, A, or B||6 months|
|Spouses or common-law partners of Quebec selection certificate (CSQ) holders||Any occupational skill level||6 months|
|Spouses or common-law partners of provincial nominees||Any occupational skill level||6 months|
|Spouses or common-law partners of bridging open work permit (BOWP) holders||Varies depending on program principal applicant applies under||6 months|
|Spouses or common-law partners of open work permit holders other than BOWP (incl. PGWP, IEC)||0, A, or B||N/A|
|Spouses or common-law partners of study permit holders||N/A||N/A|
|In Canada spousal/common-law sponsorship applicants||N/A||N/A|
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.
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.
In order to qualify for a spousal open work permit, you must meet certain minimum requirements, including:
Additional criteria will vary depending on the category of SOWP you are applying under.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There is no minimum amount of time that an applicant must wait before applying for a permit after getting married.
Holders of spouse open work permits may work anywhere in Canada, for any employer, with limited restrictions.
While applying for a spousal open work permit, dependent children may also accompany the permit holder by applying for a visitor record.
The spouse open work permit application procedure will differ depending on which type of spouse open work permit you need. The first step is determining which work permit is best for you. If you need help figuring out the application, simply contact us and a member of our team will assist you with scheduling a consultation.
When you can apply for a spouse open work permit will depend on which category you are applying under. For more information on when you can apply, contact us to set up a consultation.
The documents required for a Canadian spouse work permit will depend on the category you are applying under. Applicants may need to provide the following documents as part of their work permit application:
You may require a medical exam when applying for a spousal open work permit. If required, candidates may choose to take the medical exam upfront, or after receiving a medical exam request from IRCC. Upon receiving a request, you must complete the exam with a panel physician designated by IRCC. You can find a panel physician near you on IRCC’s Find a Panel Physician webpage.
Spousal open work permit candidates should be able to demonstrate that they have sufficient funds for their stay in Canada. If an officer is not convinced that an applicant will be able to support themselves while in Canada, this may result in a refusal.
It is not possible to renew a spousal open work permit. If your permit expires, but your spouse or partner still has eligible status in Canada, you may re-apply for a new SOWP.
If you submitted your spousal open work permit application online, you may check the status through your account. If you submitted a paper-based application, you may check the status by linking it to an online IRCC account.
There are many options for candidates working in Canada to transition to permanent residence status. For a full evaluation of your options, start by completing our free online assessment form.
One of the main reasons spousal open work permits are refused is that the applicant is unable to demonstrate sufficient proof of their relationship to their eligible spouse. If your application was refused, contact us to learn more about your options.
If your spousal open work permit is refused, you may be eligible to re-apply. You should only re-apply if you can provide additional information or documentation to address the reason or refusal. Contact us to learn more about your options.
If you applied for In-Canada sponsorship on a visitor permit that is expiring, and you have applied for a spousal open work permit, you will be on maintained status. This means you can remain in Canada without a valid permit under the same conditions while awaiting a decision on your SOWP application.
There are many reasons a spousal open work permit may be rejected. Here are six of the most common reasons:
If you and your spouse divorce or your common-law relationship ends after you’ve received your spousal open work permit, your permit will not be revoked. However, if your relationship ends while your application is still processing, you must inform IRCC of your updated relationship status, and will no longer be eligible for a SOWP.
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