Spouses or common-law partners of principal applicants who intend to live and work in Canada need to apply for their own work permit. The work permit may be employer-restricted or open work permit. Employer-restricted work permits usually require a labour market impact assessment (LMIA). An open work permit enables an employee to work for any employer in any job. Spouses are eligible to apply for an open work permit if they meet the eligibility requirements and as long as their principal applicants retain foreign worker or student status.
Types of spousal open work permits:
Spouses or common-law partners in the following categories, are eligible to apply for an open work permit:
- Full-time students, eligible for a post-graduate work permit
- Skilled workers, with a job in the NOC O, A, or B category
- Bridging open work permit (BOWP) holders
- Open work permit holders
- Atlantic Immigration Pilot work permit holders
- Provincial nominee work permit holders
- Intra-company transferees to Canada under the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), and investors, intra-corporate transferees, and professionals and technicians under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)
Spouses of full-time students
Spouses or common-law partners of full-time students in Canada who are eligible to apply for a post-graduate work permit, may apply for an open work permit. However, the spouses themselves should not be engaged in full-time studies. Open work permits in such cases is issued for the duration of the validity of the full-time student’s study permit.
Spouses of Skilled Workers
Spouses or common-law partners of foreign skilled workers may apply for an open work permit if the principal foreign worker:
- Is issued a work permit valid for a period of six months or longer
- Is employed in a NOC 0, A or B, job position
- Physically resides or plans to physically reside in Canada while working
Spouses of BOWP Holders
For a spouse or common-law partner to be eligible to apply for an open work permit, the principal foreign worker should have a BOWP with a validity of six months of longer. Spouses or common-law partners are issued an open work permit, based on the category of the BOWP. Thus, spouses or common-law partners in the following categories must meet set conditions, as stated below:
- Federal skilled workers – BOWP holder must have a job offer in a NOC O, A, or B position
- Federal skilled trades class – BOWP holder must be performing a NOC B level job
- Caregiver applicants – BOWP holder must be employed in a NOC O, A, or B job position
Spouses of Open Work Permit Holders
Spouses of open work permit holders must fulfill the following conditions to be issued an open work permit:
- Principal foreign worker must be employed in a NOC O, A, or B position
- Principal foreign worker must attach a letter of employment from their current employer
- Principal foreign worker must attach last three paystubs of their current job
Spouses of Atlantic Immigration Pilot Work Permit holders
Spouses or common-law partners of an Atlantic Immigration Pilot program are eligible to apply for open work permits if they are employed in a NOC O, A, or B job. They may be issued an open work permit for the duration of the principal worker’s work permit, for a maximum of one year.
Spouses of provincial nominee work permit holders:
Spouses or common-law partners of provincial nominee class applicants are eligible to receive open work permits for the duration of the work permit held by the principal applicant.
Spouses of intra-company transferees or investors
Spouses of intra-company transferees under the CETA and investors and professionals under the CPTPP categories qualify for an open work permit of the same duration as their principal worker’s work permit.