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Open Spousal Work Permits

Open Spousal Work Permits

An open work permit authorizes foreign nationals to work in any occupation, in any position, and in any region, with limited exceptions. 

There are two types of open spousal work permits:

  1. Open work permit for those with a Spousal or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class application in process; OR
  2. Open work permit for those accompanying a foreign national working in a high skilled (National Occupational Classification (NOC) 0, A or B) occupation or a foreign student in Canada.

Open Work Permit under the Spousal or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class

When a foreign national applies for permanent residence under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class, they may have the opportunity to work in Canada while they wait for their application for permanent residence to be processed. 

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (Immigration Canada) has initiated a program through which “open” work permits may be issued to spouses or common-law partners before the "approval in principle" decision has been made on their permanent residence application. 

In order to qualify for a work permit under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class, the foreign national must demonstrate that:

  • A permanent residence application has been submitted under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class; 
  • They reside in Canada at the same address as their Sponsor; and
  • They have valid temporary resident status in Canada (as a visitor, student, or worker).

Open Work Permit for Spouses Accompanying a High Skilled Foreign Worker or Student

A foreign national who accompanies their spouse or common-law partner, who is working in Canada on a valid work permit in a high skilled occupation, or who is studying in Canada, may be eligible for an open work permit. The open work permit will be issued for a term concurrent with their spouse or partner’s work or student permit.

A foreign national is only eligible for the open work permit if they can demonstrate that:

  • Their spouse or partner is working in a high skilled (NOC 0, A or B) occupation OR that their spouse or partner is enrolled in a qualifying program in Canada;
  • Their spouse or partner’s work or student permit is valid for at least 6 months; and
  • They intend to physically reside in Canada for the duration of their work permit.