CIC News » 2014 » March » Work Permits for Spousal Sponsorship Applicants




Work Permits for Spousal Sponsorship Applicants

March, 2014

As part of its commitment to family unification, Canadian citizens and permanent residents may sponsor their spouses or common-law partners for permanent residency. For many couples, it is important that the sponsored spouse is able to work in Canada while waiting for their permanent residency to be finalized.

Permanent resident visa applications for sponsored spouses are processed in two categories: Inland and Outland. Spouses who are living in Canada at the time of application, and who will remain in Canada during the application process, apply through Inland sponsorship. Spouses who are living outside of Canada, or expect to be outside of Canada when their permanent resident visa is finalized, apply through Outland sponsorship.

For many couples, the chance for both partners to live and work together in Canada while their application is processed is an important factor in deciding whether to pursue Inland or Outland sponsorship. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) helps to facilitate work permits for spouses being sponsored under the Inland process. There is no special treatment for spouses who have applied using the Outland process.

Work Permits for Inland Sponsorship Applicants

CIC processes Inland sponsorship applications in two stages. First, the immigration office assesses the Canadian partner’s ability to sponsor his or her spouse. If they are approved, the office then proceeds to assess the foreign spouse’s admissibility to Canada.

Once the first stage of the application has been approved, the person being sponsored is eligible to apply for an Open Work Permit. An individual holding an Open Work Permit may work for any employer in Canada, or may be self-employed, while they wait to hear the results of their permanent residency application.

Typically, the immigration office will inform applicants when they are eligible to apply for open work permits. To reduce waiting time, a work permit application may be included with the initial permanent residency application. In this way, the work permit can be issued as soon as the first stage is approved. This method is particularly useful for spouses who are already working temporarily in Canada, because their pending Open Work Permit application grants them ‘implied status’. Under implied status, an applicant can continue to work past the expiration date of their existing work permit, until they receive the results of their pending application.

Work Permits for Outland Sponsorship Applicants

Outland sponsorship follows a two-stage structure similar to that of Inland sponsorship. However, unlike the Inland process, the first stage of Outland sponsorship does not make the sponsored spouse eligible for an Open Work Permit. A foreign spouse in this situation can still apply for a temporary work permit, but he or she will be subject to general requirements for work permit eligibility.

In order to be eligible for a standard work permit, an individual must typically receive a job offer from a Canadian employer. In most cases, the employer will have to receive a positive Labour Market Opinion (LMO)before the foreign worker can request a work permit. Depending on a spouse’s age, nationality, and profession, he or she may qualify for an LMO-exempt work permit through a program such as the NAFTA Professional or International Experience Canada.

Sponsored spouses applying for a work permit should be aware that, in general, temporary work permits are given to individuals who plan to leave Canada after their work permits expire. If a government official determines that a work permit applicant is coming to Canada to live with their partner, it is possible that their work permit application will be refused because they cannot demonstrate that they will leave Canada once their work permit expires.

Applicants in this situation can address this issue by acknowledging ‘dual intent’. The dual intent principle means that it is possible to receive a temporary visa while acknowledging that a permanent resident application is in process.

Should a spouse’s work permit be refused, this does not affect the outcome of his or her permanent residency application.

The Final Word

Spouses coming to Canada are making the brave decision to move to a new country in the name of love. Thankfully, the Canadian government recognizes that such a move should not come at the expense of one’s professional goals.

“When they come to Canada, many sponsored spouses expect to not only build a life with their partner, but to pursue a career,” said Attorney David Cohen. “Spouses who plan to work in Canada should carefully assess their career goals as well as their immigration options when determining what sponsorship program is best for them.”

To find out if you and your spouse are eligible for a sponsorship applciation, please fill out a free online assessment today. 

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Mordi March 19, 2014 at 9:16 am

I have applied waiting for respond.

Muhammad zia sohail March 19, 2014 at 2:18 pm


Scott March 19, 2014 at 11:41 pm

What’s the difference inland or outland – a spouse is a spouse.

Maricel de guzman March 20, 2014 at 11:58 am

Im working here in canada as caregiver my status is working permit planning to file my residency application this april is my husband qualified to apply for outland sponsorship?

tess vergara April 2, 2014 at 4:40 pm

Hi, my husband is a skilled worker in Alberta, Canada. We are from the Philippines. Can he sponsor me and my kids? What are the requirements needed? Its only his 3rd month in Canada this coming April 9.

Shiv Sharma April 3, 2014 at 4:19 am

Thanks for the info. I applied for canadian immigration. Waiting for respond….

Joey prospero October 28, 2014 at 6:05 am

Hi sir, i am 38 yrs old and i am planning to study in canada, my wife and my two kids wants to come with me. Is my wife can apply for permanent residency while i am atudying? How?

Lilian November 17, 2014 at 6:07 pm

My spouse applied to sponsor me inland in June, 2014. I know the current processing time is 11 months for the initial assessment. But is there someone there who applied in 2014 and has received an answer yet?

Shyla May 26, 2015 at 9:37 pm

Hi Lilian, my husband’s spousal application was recieved by Immigration on Feb 3, 2014. We have finally been given word that his application has been opened and they are working on it as of May 4, 2015. He was also granted his Open Work Permit within the first week of Immigration opening his file. Hope this helps! Yours should be coming up soon!

Ak July 2, 2015 at 6:50 pm

I am a PR holder my spouse working in another he eligible to apply for open work permit as my wirks comes under NOC B .

kris July 21, 2015 at 12:34 pm

hi my spouse has working under work permit, as a nurse can he sponsor me to come with him,

rahul September 3, 2015 at 7:16 am

i want work permit in canada…..i want contact with someone who say what i do for this…..nd what requriments nd all procedure for this……

Todd September 16, 2015 at 5:57 pm

I have submitted a spouse sponsorship application, my Canadian born wife is sponsoring me, and an application for a work permit so that I can begin work. How long should i expect to wait until i receive my work permit and what happens if my visitors visa expires? I am a US citizen. Thank you,

anabel October 29, 2015 at 6:09 pm

Hi there;
My husband and I get married last Sept 5 2015. His work permit expired Sept 15 ,2015 I am a canadian citizen. I am in the process of applying him under spousal. My question is we are still waiting for the restoration application. Once the restoration of 3 months is over and no confrmation yet.Is he gonna go home while waiting or he can stay here with no status while waiting?Thanks

note January 2, 2016 at 3:21 am

Hello Sir/Madam
I am temporary foreign worker since 2013. I am working as trade department supervisor. I would like to sponsor my spouse. could I sponsor her ? if I could how to apply it and what documents required please I need your help.


Archana April 15, 2016 at 2:13 am

Currently I am in Canada as a visitor with my Husband. My Husband has work permit valid till AUG 2016. He got WP visa from JAN 2016 – AUG 2016 (8 MONTHS).

Am I eligible to apply for Open Work Permit in the month of April; while my Husband has only Valid Visa left till Aug 2016 (next 4 months).

One Of The Clause says “Your Spouse Can Apply for an Open Work Permit if :–> You hold a work permit that is valid for a period of at least six months,”

My Husband got a WP from Jan 2016 – Aug 2016 (6 months) but when I am planning to apply for my Open Work Permit (in the month of April); he has only 4 months of Valid WP left.



We welcome your comments on the news article above. However, we do not respond to specific questions in this space. If you have a question, you may Contact Us If you want to know if you qualify for Canadian immigration, you may complete our Free Assessment

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