how to get a spousal open work permit in Canada

A Spousal Open Work Permit (SOWP) allows you and your spouse or common-law partner to work and live in Canada. This permit allows the spouse or partner of temporary foreign workers, international students, or permanent resident applicants to work for any employer in Canada without needing a specific job offer. Navigating the application process effectively is crucial for ensuring a successful outcome. This guide will walk you through how to get a spousal open work permit in Canada. The essential steps, eligibility criteria, required documentation, and useful tips for a successful application.

Eligibility Criteria for Spousal Open Work Permit in Canada

Relationship Criteria

The applicant must be legally married to or in a common-law relationship with the principal applicant. The partner/spouse who wants to apply for an open work permit is known as the applicant. While the partner/spouse sponsoring the process is known as the principal applicant.

The applicant must provide documentation proving their marital or common-law relationship, such as a marriage certificate or evidence of cohabitation and shared responsibilities if common-law. Also, the immigration officers must be satisfied that the relationship is genuine and not entered into primarily to obtain an immigration advantage.

Principal Applicant’s Status

The principal applicant for spouse sponsorship Canada must fall into one of the following categories:

  • Temporary Foreign Workers: The principal applicant must be working in Canada on a valid work permit and employed in an occupation classified under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill level 0 (managerial jobs), A (professional jobs), or B (technical jobs and skilled trades).
  • International Students: If not working, then the principal applicant must be studying full-time at a designated learning institution (DLI) and hold a valid study permit.
  • Permanent Residents: Another possible status is that the principal applicant must have applied for permanent residence under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada class, and the applicant must be living with them in Canada.

Documents Needed to Obtain Spousal Open Work Permit in Canada

When considering how to get a spousal open work permit in Canada, keep in mind that there are several important documents you and your partner/spouse need for a successful application. Below are the necessary documents for an open work permit for spouse:

Proof of Relationship

  • Marriage Certificate: If you are married.
  • Common-Law Declaration: If you are in a common-law relationship, you need to provide evidence of cohabitation for at least 12 months. This can include:
    • Joint bank account statements.
    • Joint lease or rental agreements.
    • Utility bills with both names.
    • Affidavit from friends or family confirming your relationship.

Principal Applicant’s Documents

  • Copy of the Principal Applicant’s Permit: A copy of the valid work permit, study permit, or proof of application for permanent residence of your spouse or common-law partner.
  • Employment Letter: If the principal applicant is a temporary foreign worker, a letter from their employer confirming their current employment in an NOC 0, A, or B job.
  • Study Permit and Enrollment Verification: If the principal applicant is an international student, copies of their study permit and proof of enrollment at a designated learning institution.

Applicant’s Documents

  • Passport: A copy of the valid passport, including all pages with stamps and visas.
  • Photographs: Passport-sized photographs that meet the Canadian visa photo requirements.
  • Proof of Current Status in Canada: If applying from within Canada, provide a copy of your current visa or permit.

Application Forms

  • Generic Application Form for Canada (IMM 0008)
  • Schedule A – Background/Declaration (IMM 5669)
  • Additional Family Information (IMM 5406)
  • Supplementary Information – Your travels (IMM 5562)

Supporting Documents

  • Proof of Medical Examination: If required, provide proof of a medical examination by an IRCC-approved panel physician.
  • Proof of Payment of Fees: Receipt of payment for the work permit processing fee and, if applicable, the biometric fee.
  • Biometrics: Confirmation that biometrics have been completed if required.
  • Police Certificates: These may be required depending on your country of residence and the length of time you have resided there.
  • Previous Canadian Immigration Documents: Copies of any previous permits or visas issued by Canada.

How to Get a Spousal Open Work Permit in Canada

  • Verify the eligibility of both you and your partner/spouse using the eligibility criteria given above.
  • Gather all the required documents as discussed earlier.
  • Create an account on the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website or log into your account if you already have one.
  • Fill out all the necessary forms.
  • Pay the necessary fees through the IRCC online payment system. You may have to pay a work permit processing fee and a biometric fee.
  • After uploading all the required documents, review your application to ensure all information is accurate and complete then submit your application
  • If biometrics are required, you will receive a Biometric Instruction Letter (BIL) after submitting your application. You need to book an appointment at a designated biometric collection centre to provide your fingerprints and photograph.
  • After submission, the application will be reviewed by IRCC. You can check the status of your application through your online account.
  • If approved, you will receive a Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction if you applied from outside Canada, or the work permit itself if you applied from within Canada.

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Spousal Open Work Permit in Canada?

The cost of applying for a spousal open work permit varies on whether or not you also want to apply for permanent residency sponsorship Canada. The payable amount includes:

  • Sponsorship fee ($85)
  • Principal applicant processing fee ($545)
  • Right of permanent residence fee ($575)
  • Biometrics ($85)

Hence, the total amount with a permanent residence fee is $1290 while without a permanent residence fee is $715. Keep in mind that there may be other extra fees that you may need to pay during your registration process. Also, the payable fee is the same whether you are processing your application from within or outside Canada.

Processing Time and Validity

The processing time for a spousal open work permit Canada varies depending on your country of residence and the specific circumstances of your application. This processing time includes the time the principal applicant needs to give their biometrics.

The spousal open work permit is typically issued for the same period as the principal applicant’s status in Canada. That means that the applicant gets to stay in Canada only as long as the principal applicant stays.

Adding Dependent Children to Spousal Work Permit

If you have dependent children, you can include them in a spousal work permit application. However, they typically need to apply for their own respective permits or visas depending on their age and intentions while in Canada. So, having an overall family application is how to get a spousal open work permit in Canada with a dependent child. Keep in mind that adding a dependent child will equally increase processing fees.

A dependent child is generally defined as:

  • Under 22 years old and not a spouse or common-law partner.
  • Over 22 years old and has been substantially dependent on their parents for financial support due to a physical or mental condition.

Types of Permits for Dependent Children

  • Dependent children can apply for different types of permits based on their age and activities in Canada.
  • Visitor Visa: For younger children who will not be studying.
  • Study Permit: For school-aged children who will be attending primary or secondary school in Canada.
  • Work Permit: For older dependent children who are eligible and plan to work in Canada.

Tips for a Successful Application

  • Confirm that you and your spouse or common-law partner meet all eligibility criteria. This is very crucial as ineligibility will certainly lead to visa denial.
  • Ensure that your documentation is complete and accurate as incomplete or wrong information can lead to rejection. Also, if any documents are in a language other than English or French, have them translated by a certified translator.
  • Similar to your documentation, when filling out the forms, ensure that the information you provide are accurate.
  • Provide clear evidence of your relationship to increase your chances of approval. If the immigration officer doubts the genuineness of your relationship, it may lead to a rejection.
  • Regularly check the status of your application through your IRCC online account. If IRCC requests additional information or documents, respond as quickly as possible to avoid delays.
  • If you are unsure about any part of the process, consider consulting with an immigration consultant or lawyer. They can provide guidance and help ensure your application is complete and accurate.


The work permit for international spouse in Canada is aimed at promoting family unity and supporting the economic integration of families in Canada. Yet, obtaining a Spousal Open Work Permit in Canada is a multifaceted process that requires careful attention to detail and thorough preparation. By understanding the eligibility criteria, gathering all necessary documents, and following the application steps meticulously, you can significantly enhance your chances of a successful application. By following this guide on how to get a spousal open work permit in Canada, you open the door to new opportunities and a prosperous future in the Great White North.