New eligibility requirements for the Spousal Open Work Permit

On March 19th 2024 Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced new eligibility requirements for the Spousal Open Work Permit (SOWP).

 Amongst the major changes in Canada International student program which were outlined on January 22,2024, was that the spouses of international students in undergraduate and college programs will no longer be eligible for spousal open work permit. And after a long awaited month for further green flags, today IRCC has announced the updated eligibility criteria for the Spousal Open Work Permit (SOWP) granted to international students.

The following are the updated Canada Spousal Open Work Permit Eligibility Criteria for 2024:

  • Spouses and partners of international students are only eligible for a SOWP as of March 19 if their sponsor is enrolled in a master’s or doctorate program at a Canadian university or in the following polytechnic institute.
    1. Dental Surgery Doctor (DDS, DMD)
    2. Juris Doctor or Bachelor of Law (LLB, JD, BCL)
    3. Medical doctor (MD)
    4. Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD, BS, BSc, BPharm), Doctor of Optometry (OD)
    5. Veterinary medicine doctor (DVM)
    6. Nursing Bachelor of Science (BScN, BSN, or BNSc)
    7. Education Bachelor’s Degree (B. Ed.)
    8. Engineering Bachelor’s Degree (B. Eng., BE, BASc)
  • If a student’s common-law partner or spouse applied for an open work permit before March 19, 2024 then they may be eligible for an open work permit if you meet the following three requirements:
    1. You have a valid study permit.
    2. Your current study program is eligible for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP).
    3. You attend one of the following kinds of educational institutions as a full-time student:
      1. a public post-secondary school, such as a college or university, or CEGEP in Quebec
      2. a private college-level school in Quebec
      3. a Canadian private school that can legally award degrees under provincial law (for example, a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree
  • In the event that your spouse or partner wishes to request an extension of their current open work permit

Fact:Mostly the period of their spouse’s study visa is equivalent to the validity of the spousal open work permit.If an international student’s spouse or partner is no longer eligible for a SOWP, they can apply for a tourist visa (TRV) or another kind of work permit.

With an open work permit for spouses, spouses or common-law partners of international students studying in Canada can work for any employer without requiring an employment offer or an LMIA. An applicant applying for SOWP in Canada can follow the process, eligibility, and requirements for the SOWP and submit their application which will help them get started with their work permit process immediately.

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