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The IRCC has updated the criteria for spouses to be eligible for open work permits.

More information about the modifications to the eligibility requirements for Spousal Open Work Permits (SOWP) has been made public by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

new criteria for spousal open work permit

The department made a number of adjustments to Canada's international student program on January 22, 2024. The wives of foreign students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs will no longer be qualified for SOWPs, according to the IRCC.

Spouses and partners of international students are only eligible for a SOWP as of March 19 if their sponsor is enrolled in a master's or doctorate program at a Canadian university or polytechnic.

Undergraduate students' wives or partners are exempt in certain cases. The following professional degree programs at universities also allow spouses of undergraduate students to 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)

When applying for a SOWP, spouses and partners must submit two documents: one proving their relationship to the student and the other proving their partner's enrollment in a program of study leading to a degree. The IRCC acknowledges:

If you've already submitted an application:

According to the IRCC, anyone who submitted a SOWP application before March 19 are

still qualified if their partner:

  • Has a valid study permit.

  • Is eligible for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP).

  • Is a full-time student at one of these types of schools:

  • a public post-secondary school, such as a college or university, or CEGEP in Quebec

  • a private college-level school in Quebec

  • a Canadian private school that can legally award degrees under provincial law (for example, a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree)

These requirements are the same for current SOWP holders who apply to extend their existing permits.

How come you're not qualified?

If an overseas student's spouse or partner is no longer eligible for a SOWP, they can apply for a tourist visa (TRV) or another kind of work permit. On the other hand, visitors are not allowed to work in Canada.

post graduated work permit requirements 2024

Holders of a SOWP are able to work in Canada for nearly any employer. Additionally, it serves to further the IRCC's mission to encourage family reunification.

To "attack a volume challenge but also integrity challenges with what we believe was an area that was being exploited and not necessarily legitimate," Immigration Minister Marc Miller, however, stated that he was restricting SOWPs to the partners and spouses of master's and PhD students in a statement to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) on February 28.


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