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Spousal Work Permits

Spousal Work Permits

Open Work Permits for Spouses and Common-Law Partners

Spouses and common-law partners of skilled workers, full-time students, and principal applicants of certain permanent resident applications may be eligible to work in Canada on an open work permit provided relevant preconditions are met. These open work permits do not restrict the spouse to a specific employer, location and occupation. The spouse’s work permit will be issued for no longer than the principal’s permit period.

If the principal is a foreign worker

For the spouse to qualify for the permit, first the principal foreign worker must be employed in skilled work that falls within National Occupational Classification (NOC) Skill Level 0, A, or B. This includes management and professional occupations and technical or skilled tradespersons. Documentation confirming the principal’s current employment and duties as a skilled worker must be submitted with the spouse’s work permit application.

Secondly, the principal’s work permit must be valid for a period of at least six months. If the principal is authorized to work without a work permit, evidence must be provided that they are working for a minimum of six months.

If the principal is a student

For the spouse to qualify, the principal must hold a valid study permit and be a full-time student at either:

  • a public post-secondary institution, such as a college or university;
  • a qualifying private post-secondary institution; or
  • a Canadian private institution authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees.

Evidence of the principal’s ongoing full-time studies should be included with the spouse’s work permit application.

If the principal holds a bridging open work permit

The accompanying spouse may be eligible for an open work permit provided certain preconditions are met. These preconditions depend on type of permanent residence application submitted by the principal (the bridging work permit holder):

  • Federal Skilled Worker Class: the principal must be performing work within NOC Skill Level 0, A, or B.
  • Federal Skilled Trade Class: the principal must be performing skilled work within one of the qualifying occupations in NOC Skill Level B.
  • Canadian Experience Class: there are no set preconditions to be met by the principal applicant.

Documentation confirming the principal’s current employment and duties must be submitted with the spouse’s work permit application to verify preconditions are met.

If the principal is a Provincial Nominee

Spouses may receive an open work permit regardless of the skill level of the principal’s occupation. The principal’s permit must still be valid for at least six months.

Click on the links on the right hand column learn more about temporary visas.