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Spousal Open Work Permits

IRCC Introduces Changes to Eligibility for Spousal Open Work Permits

Canada presents immigrants with immense opportunities to work and settle in the country. Among such options a strategic pathway that enriches the Canadian economy while strengthening the economic sustainability of immigrants is what is called Spousal Open Work Permits. It allows the spouse of a foreign worker or international student to have access to an open work permit in Canada that enables them to work with any employer. 

This is indeed a channel to ensure the IRCC’s (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) mandate to promote family reunification. Even though it bypasses Canada Skilled Migration pathways, it has a greater significance for the Canadian economy. However, in recent months this scheme has faced significant setbacks and eligibility changes. The following sections are dedicated to exploring these policy changes. 

The Background

Earlier this year, on January 22, 2024, IRCC made a stringent restriction on Spousal Open Work Permits. According to these changes, spouses of international students in undergraduate and college programs were denied eligibility to apply for the SOWP. However, the latest update in this direction as of March 19, 2024, is something that offers relief to such SOWP applicants.

Notified Changes in SOWP

According to the latest notification eligibility for SOWP is based on satisfying any of the following points:

The sponsor, that is the partner, is enrolled in a master’s or doctoral degree program in Canada. 

In the case of undergraduate student partners it is a must that they pursue a degree-guaranteeing program at a university in one of the following disciplines:

  • Doctor of Dental Surgery ( DDS, DMD) 
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing ( BSc N, BSN, BNSc)
  • Bachelor of Law or Juris Doctor ( LLB, JD, BCL) 
  • Bachelor of Engineering ( B. Eng, BE, BASc)
  • Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)
  • Doctor of Optometry (OD)
  • Bachelor of Education ( B. Ed)
  • Pharmacy ( PharmD, BS, BSc, BPharm)

Required Documents to Apply for SOWP

  • Proof of Relation: The spouse who applies for SOWP must submit relevant documents to prove their relationship to the sponsor. 
  • Proof of Enrolment: The following proofs are accepted to prove that their partner is pursuing any of the above-mentioned degrees:
  1. Valid Letter of Acceptance from a Designated  Learning Institution (DLI)
  2. Proof of enrolment letter from the partner’s DLI
  3. Transcript from the partner’s current program.

Regulations for Applications Before March 19

In case you have applied for Spousal Open Work Permits before March 19, which is the date from which this new notification is in effect, you are eligible  for SOWP subject to satisfying the following conditions:

  • The partner has a valid study permit
  • They are eligible for PGWP
  • The partner is a full-time student at a post-secondary school or CEGEP in Quebec, a private college-level school in Quebec, or a Canadian private school that can legally award degrees according to provincial law.


So here we discussed the latest updates in SOWP applications for Canada. The course and current state of the notified changes, eligibility, required documentation, and the condition of the applications applied before the date of the latest notification have been discussed. In case you find this information a bit overwhelming it is better to get assistance from a professional consultancy services. If that is the case don’t hesitate to reach out to Trenity Immigration Consultants for we are one of the leading immigration consultancy services around the world.


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