No more open work permit for spouses of students

In a recent development that has sent shockwaves through the international student community in Canada, the Canadian government has announced significant changes to the eligibility criteria for Spouse Open Work Permits (SOWP). 

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced that starting in the coming weeks, spouses of certain international students will no longer be eligible for open work permits.

The change impacts spouses of international students in undergraduate, college, and most non-PhD graduate programs. Spouses of students in Master’s, PhD, and specialized programs in medicine and law will still be able to obtain open work permits.

This change will not affect current international students whose spouses already have valid study permits and open work permits in Canada. They will still be able to renew their documents.

However, new study permit applicants arriving after the policy takes effect will see the exclusion of spouse open work permits for undergraduate, college, and most graduate programs.

This surprise move aims to reduce overall work permits and permanent resident approvals through the spousal sponsorship stream. The student-to-worker transition has been a common pathway to staying in Canada.

The Canadian government has not provided detailed information on the reasons behind this policy shift. However, it is speculated that the decision could be rooted in a desire to prioritize the integration of skilled workers into the Canadian labor market. By limiting work opportunities for spouses of international students in certain programs, the government may be aiming to channel resources and employment opportunities towards individuals with specialized skills.

While concerning for affected couples, IRCC states it will benefit Canada’s labor market and education system in the long run. But student advocates argue it limits financial support for families during studies.

As the Canadian government implements changes to Spouse Open Work Permits for international students, the affected community is left grappling with uncertainty and potential disruptions to their plans. The implications of this policy shift will undoubtedly be felt across educational institutions and the broader international student population. Staying informed and seeking appropriate guidance will be key in adapting to these changes and finding alternative solutions for spouses facing new barriers to employment in Canada.

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