New eligibility requirements for the Spousal Open Work Permit

Spousal Open Work Permit (SOWP)

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

Major Change

 Amongst the major changes in the 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 permits. And after a long awaited month for further green flags, today IRCC 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:

  • As of March 19, spouses and partners of international students are only qualified for a SOWP if their sponsor is enrolled in a master’s or doctoral program at one of the following polytechnic institutes or at a Canadian institution.
    1. Dental Surgery Doctor (DDS, DMD)
    2. Bachelor of Laws or Juris Doctor (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. You are qualified for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) based on your current study program.
    3. As a full-time student, you attend one of the following types of educational institutions:
      1. A public post-secondary institution, like a university or college; in Quebec, this is known as CEGEP A Quebec private college level institution
      2. A private college-level school in Quebec
      3. A private Canadian institution authorized by provincial legislation to confer degrees (such as bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees)
  • 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 are eligible to apply for a different type of work permit or a tourist visa (TRV).

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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