Canada Blog 4
March 21, 2024

IRCC Update: CANADA Closes Spousal Work Permit for Student Visas. BUT NOT IF YOU CHOOSE THESE COURSES

Navigating the changing landscape of spousal work permits in Canada can be challenging. Starting March 19, 2024, new regulations will impact the eligibility criteria for open work permits for spouses or common-law partners of international students. Here’s what you need to know to ensure that your partner can work in Canada while you pursue your studies:.

New Eligibility Criteria for Spousal Work Permits

From March 19, 2024, your spouse or common-law partner may qualify for an open work permit if you hold a valid study permit and are enrolled in one of the following programs at a university or polytechnic institution:

  • Master’s or doctoral degree programs
  • Professional degree programs such as:
    • 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)

To prove enrollment in a degree-granting program, your partner will need to provide one of the following documents:

  • A valid letter of acceptance from your designated learning institution (DLI)
  • Proof of enrollment letter from your DLI
  • Transcripts from your current program

Additionally, they must provide proof of their relationship to you and may be asked for other documents.

What If Your Spouse Applied Before March 19, 2024?

If your spouse or common-law partner applied for an open work permit before March 19, 2024, they might still be eligible if:

  1. You have a valid study permit.
  2. You’re eligible for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP).
  3. You’re a full-time student at a qualifying school, such as a public post-secondary school, a private college-level school in Quebec, or a Canadian private school that can legally award degrees.

What If You’re Not Eligible?

For those who find themselves ineligible for a Spousal Open Work Permit (SOWP), alternatives include applying for a different type of work permit or a visitor visa (TRV). However, it’s important to note that visitors are not allowed to work in Canada.

Understanding the Changes

The SOWP has been a popular means for family reunification, allowing holders to work for almost any employer in Canada. However, the recent changes aim to address challenges related to the volume and integrity of applications. Immigration Minister Marc Miller stated that limiting SOWPs to the partners and spouses of master’s and PhD students is an effort to tackle exploitation and ensure the legitimacy of the program.

Navigating the Future

These changes underline the importance of staying informed and planning accordingly. If your partner’s eligibility is affected, consider exploring alternative pathways to ensure they can work in Canada. Stay updated on immigration policies and consult with immigration experts to navigate these changes successfully.

For more information and guidance on work permits and immigration, visit the Government of Canada’s Immigration and Citizenship page.

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