#BreakingNews: IRCC updates eligibility requirements for Spousal Open Work Permits effective March 19, 2024

Canada News
Written By GHV Immigration Services
March 20, 2024

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has released more details on changes to eligibility for Spousal Open Work Permits (SOWP).

On January 22, 2024, IRCC introduced several changes to Canada’s international student program. Among them was that the spouses of international students in undergraduate and college programs will no longer be eligible for SOWPs.

As of March 19, 2024, partners and spouses of international students are eligible for a SOWP only if the primary applicant (the student) is enrolled in a master’s or doctoral degree program at a university or polytechnic institution in Canada.

Some exemptions were given for the spouses or partners of undergraduate students. Spouses of undergraduate students in any of the following professional degree programs at a university level are still eligible 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)

If you already applied

Those who have applied for a SOWP before March 19, 2024 are still eligible 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 permit.

What if you’re not eligible?

Spouses and partners of international students who find themselves not eligible for a SOWP can apply for another type of work permit or a visitor visa (TRV). However, those who arrive in Canada as a visitor are not permitted to work.

A SOWP allows holders to work for almost any employer in Canada. It is also a means to support IRCC’s mandate to promote family reunification.

In a comment to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) on February 28, 2024, Immigration Minister Marc Miller said that he was limiting SOWPs to the partners and spouses of master’s and PhD students to “attack a volume challenge but also integrity challenges with what we believe was an area that was being exploited and not necessarily legitimate.”

Share This Article


See More Blogs Here


Keep yourself updated with the latest Canada Immigration News