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  • Writer's pictureCalver Immigration Consulting Inc.

How To Apply For A Spousal Open Work Permit in 2023


A Spousal Open Work Permit (SOWP) is an open work permit that allows the spouse or common-law partner of a principal foreign national to work for any employer in Canada. The principal foreign national of a couple is the one who is here in Canada on a study permit or work permit. The SOWP is also available to those who are being sponsored under the in-Canada Spousal Sponsorship Class.


There are several categories under which a SOWP can be applied for which can include: spouses or common-law partners of skilled workers, full-time students, provincial nominees, and sponsored spouses/common-law partners living in Canada.

While specific requirements can vary depending on the category, general requirements to consider when applying for a Spousal Open Work permit include:

  • Determine the specific requirements you need to complete based on the specific spousal category you are applying under, for example, workers in Canada who want to bring their spouse must be working in a high skilled TEER position (TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3).

  • The applicant for a spousal open work permit must be able to prove they are in a genuine relationship with the principal foreign national (for example, marriage certificate, photos, proof of correspondence)

  • Evidence of the principal foreign national’s authority to work or study in Canada (as applicable)

  • Passport validity: Passport must be valid for at least 6 months of the duration on the principal foreign national’s current immigration documents or the length of time being sought.

  • Demonstrate general admissibility requirements to remain in Canada for the duration of time requested.

Learn more about it here


This is the question most of our clients want to know: how long will it take? The spousal open work permit processing time depends on where the person applying resides at the time of application. This can differ depending on where and when you submit your application, the local visa office processes the work permit so processing times depend on the country of application.


Usually we will apply for the Principal Applicant's work or study permit at the same time as their spouse's open work permit, other practitioners will say that this decreases the chances of approval, however we find this to be the best course of action.

If only the Principal work permit/ study permit holder has come to Canada on their own, then we can explore options for the spouse's open work permit, as their country of residence will determine where they can apply from.

It's important in these work permit applications to include both evidence of the relationship between the permit holder in Canada and their spouse or common-law partner who is outside of Canada. In addition to this, we also prepare a comprehensive snapshot of the work and education history for the spouse outside of Canada, which helps to demonstrate stability for the applicant. Lastly, we show family and financial ties to the home country for the spouse who is applying for the SOWP, as this helps to avoid a refusal.

If you do not require a Temporary Resident Visa, you may even be able to apply for the open work permit at a Canadian port of entry (i.e. border or airport where you enter Canada). We find that most border officer will want the spouse to have a job offer to process these (even though it is an open work permit!)

Let’s work together

If you're wondering about how this update will affect applicants who have just submitted their application under the old NOC system or if you're unsure about the TEER system in general, get in touch! We will be happy to assist you in your Canadian immigration journey.


Our Services

Calver Immigration Consulting Inc. is rated Canada's number one boutique immigration consultancy. We serve clients across Canada and internationally. Our Registered Canadian Immigration Consultant has over 10 years of experience in Canadian Immigration law and over four years of experience serving those in Canada and abroad.

We can assist with applications for both temporary and permanent residency in Canada. We handle applications for study permits, permanent residency, family class sponsorship, visitor visas, work permits, and Canadian citizenship. We also handle criminal inadmissibility cases by developing remedies for refusal.

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