Can my spouse or partner work while their sponsorship application is being processed?

Julia Hornstein
Published: July 8, 2022

If you are sponsoring your spouse or partner in Canada, they can apply for an open work permit when they apply for permanent residence.

While your spouse or partner’s permanent residence application is being processed, they must:

  • Maintain legal status as a temporary resident in Canada, and;
  • Wait for their work permit to be approved before starting work.

If the spouse or partner already has a work permit that is expiring, they may continue to work as long as they maintain their status as a worker.

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

What is an Open Work Permit?

An open work permit is one of many types of work permits that allow foreign workers to legally work in Canada. Open work permits allow foreign nationals to work in Canada for any number of employers in various locations. The biggest advantage is that they allow for freedom of movement between employers, occupations, workplaces or locations in Canada.

An open work permit can allow your spouse or partner to be professionally active in the Canadian labor market, while also reducing the economic and emotional burden of a potentially lengthy application process. You do not need to have an offer of employment to apply.

The eligibility requirements and application procedure differ depending on the specific situation of each individual. Spouses and common law partners that are being sponsored through Inland Sponsorship and meet eligibility criteria under that program may be eligible for an open work permit.

What are the eligibility criteria?

In order to get a spousal open work permit, there are certain criteria which must be met:

  • A spousal/common-law partner sponsorship application for permanent residence is submitted.
  • The applicant and sponsor must reside at the same address.
  • The applicant must have valid temporary resident status as a visitor, student or worker.
  • The applicant and sponsor must meet all eligibility criteria for the spousal/common-law partner sponsorship.

How can we apply for a spousal open work permit?

You can apply for an open work permit whether your spouse or partner has already applied for permanent residence or has yet to do so. If your spouse or partner has not applied for permanent residence yet, you can mail all applications (sponsorship, permanent residence and open work permit) together in one envelop to the Case Processing Center in Mississauga, Ontario.

If your spouse or partner has or has not already applied for permanent residence, once they do, they must wait to receive their acknowledgment of receipt letter. Once that is received, they can apply for an open work permit, which must be done online. When the online account is created, the applicant must answer some questions to get a personalized document checklist. The applicant must then fill out the application forms and upload the required documents.

How long does it take IRCC to process the applications?

Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) says it aims to have normal service standards for processing most lines of business by the end of the year. At the time of writing, IRCC reports it takes an average of 158 days to process in-land work permit applications submitted online and 149 days for paper based in-land work permit applications.

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

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