How to apply for a Canadian spousal open work permit

Daniel Levy
Published: May 6, 2022

Spouses and common-law partners of Canadians can get an open work permit while their inland sponsorship application for permanent residence is being processed.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) aims to process applications submitted through the Spousal Sponsorship program within 12 months. The Open Work Permit Program can allow foreign spouses to work while waiting on a decision from IRCC. It can help to mitigate the economic and emotional hardships of a long application process by removing the need for a spouse to choose between living with their partner and being able to work.

An open work permit is neither employer nor job-specific and it allows the holder to work for almost any Canadian employer, without first having to get a confirmed offer of employment. These work permits are typically valid for two years or to the date of the applicant’s passport expiry date, whichever comes first.

Schedule a Free Work Permit Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

In order to get a spousal open work permit, the following criteria must be met:

  • A permanent residence application must be submitted under the Spousal/Common-Law Partner Sponsorship Immigration Program;
  • The applicant must reside at the same address as the sponsor (spouse/common-law partner);
  • The applicant must have valid temporary resident status (as a visitor, student, or worker); and
  • The applicant and the sponsor must meet all eligibility requirements under spousal or common-law partner sponsorship.

It is possible to apply for an open work permit and for sponsorship at the same time. If you have already applied for sponsorship, you can apply for the work permit online after you get the acknowledgement of receipt from IRCC.

If the spouse or common-law partner does not have valid status while applying, IRCC will process their work permit application once their permanent residence application has been approved in principle.

Schedule a Free Work Permit Consultation with the Cohen Immigration Law Firm

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