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Canada Expands Spousal Open Work Permit Eligibility for Master’s and PhD Students’ Partners

Spousal Open Work Permits


Highlights: IRCC Spousal Open Work Permits Update

1. Partners of Master’s & PhD students in Canada can now apply for Spousal Open Work Permits (SOWP).

2. Spousal partners of international students in a few bachelor’s programs are also eligible. 

3. Required documents include proof of relationship, partner’s LOA, and program enrolment proof. 

4. The new update is a positive step for attracting international talent and allowing partners to contribute to Canada.

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Great news for spouses and common-law partners of international students pursuing higher education in Canada! Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) recently updated its eligibility requirements for Spousal Open Work Permits (SOWP), bringing wider opportunities for some.

Effective March 19, 2024, IRCC will allow spouses and common-law partners of international students enrolled in Master’s or Doctoral degree programs at designated learning institutions (DLIs) to apply for SOWPs. It will enable them to work in Canada while their partner completes their studies legally.

This update addresses a previous policy change in January 2024, which restricted SOWP eligibility for partners of students in undergraduate and college programs. 

The new policy recognizes the value of attracting highly skilled international students and supporting their families during their stay in Canada.

This change acknowledges the importance of international students to Canada’s knowledge economy, believes our immigration consultants. 

What this means for you:

If you are the spouse or common-law partner of an international student currently enrolled in a Master’s or Doctoral program at a DLI in Canada, you may now be eligible to apply for an SOWP.

This allows you to work for any employer in Canada and gain valuable work experience. IRCC is also accepting SOWP applications submitted before March 19. 

Additionally, the spouses of undergraduate students in one of the following professional degree programs at a university may apply for a SOWP:

💠Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS, DMD)

💠Bachelor of Law or Juris Doctor (LLB, JD, BCL)

💠Doctor of Medicine (MD)

💠Doctor of Optometry (OD)

💠Pharmacy (PharmD, BS, BSc, BPharm)

💠Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)

💠Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN, BSN, BNSc)

💠Bachelor of Education (B. Ed.)

💠Bachelor of Engineering (B. Eng., BE, BASc)

Documents required for your SOWP application:

1. Proof of your relationship to the student (marriage certificate, common-law partnership documentation)

2. Your partner’s valid Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from the DLI

3. Proof of your partner’s enrolment in a Master’s or Doctoral program 

For further details and application procedures, consult our immigration experts at CanApprove. 

Family Reunification Programs in Canada

While the recent changes may have impacted eligibility for some Spousal Open Work Permits, there are still options! 

Spouses and partners of international students can explore other work permit programs or visitor visas (TRVs) to stay in Canada together. It’s important to remember that visitor visas don’t allow working in Canada, but they can be a great way to visit and explore while considering other work permit options. 

Get your free consultation with CanApprove to explore more options and eligibility.

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