Open Work Permit for Spouse 2024 | New 2-Year Measure

On January 30, 2023, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) made it easier for spouses of work permit holders to receive an open work permit. Normally, only spouses of workers in a NOC TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3 positions were eligible for a Spouse Open Work Permit to work in Canada. With this new temporary 2-year measure, spouses of workers in NOC TEER 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 are eligible to apply for an Open Work Permit. This bold move is expected to create an additional 200,000 open work permit holders in Canada and provides more opportunities for families to stay together.

What is a Spousal Open Work Permit (SOWP) for Canada Immigration?

A Spousal Open Work Permit (SOWP) is an open work permit that allows the SOWP holder to work for any employer in Canada. SOWPs are available for the spouse or common-law partner of principal foreign nationals (study permit/work permit holders) and those being sponsored under the in-Canada Spousal Sponsorship Class. Open work permits like SOWP are popular because they do not need a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and do not tie you to a single employer.

Changes to Spouse Open Work Permit (SOWP) Eligibility From January 2023 to 2025 | A Temporary 2-year Measure

According to IRCC, you may be eligible for a SOWP starting January 30, 2022, if you are the:

  1. spouse, common-law partner or dependent child of a work permit holder who
    • works in a job of any NOC TEER 0 to 5, or
    • is the principal applicant and has an open work permit (for example: PGWP holders at all skill levels)
    • spouse, common-law partner or dependent child of an economic class permanent resident applicant who holds a work permit
SOWP 2023

Eligibility Requirements for SOWP | Am I Eligible?

Requirements for SOWP can vary depending on whether you apply as the spouse or common-law partner of a worker (temporary foreign worker programs and international mobility programs), student, or under the in-Canada Spousal Sponsorship Class.

Spouse of a High Skilled Worker (TEER 0, 1, 2, and 3)

Principal Applicant Requirements

  1. They’re legally authorized to work in Canada with 1 of the following:
    • a valid work permit (employer-specific or open under a non-spousal category)
    • an authorization to work without a work permit (exception: family members of students who can work off-campus or who are transitioning to a post-graduation work permit [PGWP] are not eligible)
  2. Their work permit or authorized work must be valid for at least 6 months after the family member’s open work permit application is received.
  3. They’re employed in a high-skilled occupation (Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities [TEER] category 0, 1, 2 or 3 of the National Occupation Classification system) at the time of the family members’ application.
  4. They’re living or plan to live in Canada while working.

Spouse Requirements

  1. You meet the general eligibility requirements for a work permit.
  2. You are in a genuine relationship with the person who makes you eligible for this open work permit and be any one of the following:
    • the spouse or common-law partner of the principal foreign worker
  3. If you’re in Canada, you’re in one of the following situations:
    • You have a valid temporary resident status.
    • You’ve applied to extend your status before it expired (maintained status).
    • You’re eligible to restore your status.

Spouse of a Low-Skilled Worker (TEER 4 and 5)

Principal Applicant Requirements

  1. They work in Canada with 1 of the following:
    • a valid work permit (employer-specific or open under a non-spousal category)
    • an authorization to work without a work permit (exception: family members of students who can work off campus or who are transitioning to PGWP are not eligible)
  2. Their work permit or their authority to work without a work permit must be valid in Canada for at least 6 months after the family member’s open work permit application is received.
  3. They’re employed in a low-skilled occupation (TEER 4 or 5 of the National Occupation Classification system) at the time of the family members’ application.
  4. They’re living or plan to live in Canada while working.

Spouse Requirements

  1. You meet the general eligibility requirements for a work permit.
  2. You’re in a genuine relationship with the person who makes you eligible for this open work permit and are any one of the following:
    • the spouse or common-law partner of the principal foreign worker
  3. If you’re in Canada, you’re in one of the following situations:
    • You have a valid temporary resident status.
    • You’ve applied to extend your status before it expired (maintained status).
    • You’re eligible to restore your status.

Spouse of a Work permit holder who has/will apply for PR through an economic immigration program

Principal Applicant Requirements

  1. They hold a valid work permit (employer-specific or open under a non-family category).
  2. Their work permit must be valid in Canada for at least 6 months after the family member’s open work permit application is received.
  3. They live and work in Canada.
  4. They have one of the following:
    1. They hold a work permit that was issued because they applied for permanent residence in any of the following Economic Classes:
      • federal skilled worker class (FSWC)
      • Canadian experience class (CEC)
      • federal skilled trades class (FSTC)
      • caring for children class or caring for people with high medical needs class before June 18, 2019
      • Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) for applicants for whom there are no employer restrictions on nominations
      • Agri-Food Pilot (AFP)
      • Quebec skilled worker class (QSWC)
    2. They have a nomination letter from the province or a Quebec selection Certificate (CSQ).

Spouse Requirements

  1. You meet the general eligibility requirements for a work permit.
  2. You are in a genuine relationship with the person who makes you eligible for this open work permit and are any one of the following:
    • the spouse or common-law partner of the principal foreign worker
    • A dependent child cannot be the principal foreign worker.
  3. If you’re in Canada, you must be in one of the following situations:
    • You have a valid temporary resident status.
    • You’ve applied to extend your status before it expired (maintained status).
    • You’re eligible to restore your status.

At this time, spouses in the following situation are not eligible:

  1. Spouses of workers in a TEER 4 or 5 job under the low-wage stream
  2. Spouses of workers in the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and
  3. Spouses of workers in the Agricultural Stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

What Documents are Required for SOWP?

Document requirements vary depending on if you are the spouse of a high skilled worker, low skilled worker, or a work permit holder who has/will apply for PR through an economic immigration program.

In your SOWP application, you’ll may need to provide documentation to:

  1. Prove your relationship to the principal foreign worker
  2. Prove that the principal foreign worker can legally work in Canada
  3. Prove that the principal foreign worker can work in Canada for 6 months after the date that the family member submits their work permit
  4. Prove that the principal foreign worker is working in an occupation in TEER 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 of the National Occupation Classification system
  5. Prove that the principal foreign worker applied for permanent residence, has a valid nomination or has a valid Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ)

Our immigration consultants can help you compile a comprehensive checklist. Give us a call or book a consultation now.

How Long is the Processing Time of SOWP?

The processing time for SOWP applications at the time of this writing is 166 days. Your personal application may be processed faster or slower depending on departmental priorities and if your application was complete with no complications.

How Do I Apply for SOWP?

You can apply for a SOWP either with the help of a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) like Mygration or prepare an application through your IRCC secure account. Depending on your situation, you may be able to submit a SOWP application at the same time as your spouse/common-law partner (the principal foreign national).

Whether you need a 15-minute consultation, application review, or full representation of your application, working with experienced RCICs like Mygration can help you avoid refusals, delays, and complications. Give us a shout if you need assistance.

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11 Comments

  1. Hello
    I am on closed work permit caregiver category so can I apply spouce open work permit inside canada my husband is on tourist visa in canada

  2. Hi.
    Me and my wife are planning to go back to home country after study on Dec 2023,after that we have valid visa on stamp till March 2024,so question is about whether it is safe to travell after study completition or not ?.Moreover we will come back in Jan 2024.then we will apply for PGWP. Is it good to apply after travell?.

    Next question is
    Pgwp,so as per new rules after 2023 Jan,if my wife worked in law wage then we will be eligible for Pgwp?.

  3. Hi! Do you also provide a service where you can execute the PGWP and SOWP application for me and my wife? If so, how much would that cost? Thanks

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