How to Obtain a Spouse Open Work Permit?


If you wish to live and work in Canada with your spouse, you may be eligible for an open work permit from India. A Spouse Open Work Permit (SOWP) allows the spouse or partner of an individual working or studying in Canada to work for a certain period. 

SOWP is not limited to a particular Canadian employer, which means the spouse can work for any employer across the country – without the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) requirement.

In a recent update, IRCC has announced a temporary cap on the number of international students who are issued study visas. This will be practiced for the next two years and will result in approx. 360,000 approved study permits, a decrease of 35% from 2023.

Now only the spouses of international students enrolled in master’s and doctoral programs will be eligible to apply for a Canada dependent visa for spouse work permit from India. The spouses of students in other study levels like undergraduate and college programs, will no longer be eligible. 

So, if your spouse is working in Canada or is studying for a master’s or doctoral degree, find out the eligibility for SOWP and the application process.

Eligibility Requirements for Spouse Open Work Permit

The applicant must fulfill the following requirements to qualify for a SOWP: 

  • Must be the legal spouse of a citizen of Canada or PR holder with a valid work permit/study permit/applicant for Canada PR. 
  • Must be eligible to apply as the spouse of a qualifying foreign national or Canada sponsorship applicant
  • Must not be criminally or medically inadmissible to Canada.

Requirements that a SOWP holder must meet: 

  • Possess enough money to support themselves and return to their home country.
  • Prove they are medically fit to take the medical examination.
  • Must not be listed as dangerous and not involved in ongoing illegal activities.
  • Must not work under an employer in Canada listed as “ineligible” or in massages, erotic dances, or escort services. 
  • Should have an intention to go back to their home country after their work permit expires.

Some requirements that the Spouse Work Permit Visa holder has to meet include – 

  • Have sufficient funds to sustain themselves in Canada and go back home.
  • Proving they are medically fit to give a medical exam.
  • Not be listed as dangerous and must not have any ongoing illegal activities.
  • Not work under a Canadian employer listed as ineligible or in massages, erotic dances, or escort services. 
  • Have an intention to return to their home country after their work permit expires.
  • Submit the required documents asked by the officer in charge.

The open work permit can be applied for both inside and outside Canada. In case you are applying from SOWP from India, obtain a visa to enter Canada as the work permit only enables you to stay in the country and doesn’t allow you to enter or re-enter. 

How to Apply?

Follow the steps given below to apply for a SOWP: 

Step 1: Determine eligibility

Check whether or not you meet the eligibility requirements for a SOWP. 

Step 2: Gather documents

Make sure you have all the required documents for the SOWP application: 

  • Acknowledgment of Receipt (AOR) letter
  • Provincial nomination certificate (if applicable)
  • Filled out application forms
  • Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ) (Québec Acceptance Certificate) (if applicable)
  • Spouse’s status proof in Canada
  • Status proof in Canada
  • Marriage certificate or proof of common-law status
  • Proof of relationship to the principal applicant
  • A valid passport copy
  • Medical exam results (if requested)
  • Proof of payment for applicable government fees

Step 3: Complete the application form

Now, you must fill out the work permit form with accurate details about yourself, your spouse, and your dependents. Also, pay the application fee. 

Step 4: Submit the application

Once you have completed the application form, submit it with all supporting documents to the designated visa office or online visa on the IRCC website.

Step 5: Wait for a decision

Wait while the visa office processes your application and comes to a conclusion. The processing time may vary due to the visa office and circumstances of your application, but generally, Spouse Open Work Permit takes about 3 to 5 months.

Step 6: Get a visa (if needed)

As you are applying for a SOWP from outside Canada, you must get a visa to enter Canada once your work permit is approved. 

Congratulations! With a Spouse Open Work Permit, you can start working in Canada for any employer without the need for an LMIA. 

Make sure to submit a complete application and meet all the eligibility requirements to boost your chances of getting a SOWP. Talk to the best immigration consultants, Nationwide Visa, who have assisted thousands of individuals get Canada PR from India, SOWP, spousal visas, and other types of visas. With over 17 years in the immigration industry, they are updated about the latest changes in the policies and can guide you throughout the process to make it a success.

Why wait? Start your process today!

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