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  • Writer's pictureCalver Immigration Consulting Inc.

How To Avoid Spousal Open Work Permit Refusals

Most Common Reasons For Refusals & How To Avoid Them.

Imagine spending countless hours reading and trying to complete the application for your significant other to join you in Canada as a worker, only to learn that the application has been refused.

Being separated from a family member for any period of time can be daunting, especially when that family member is your common-law partner or spouse. The disappointment becomes significantly worse when the application for your spouse is denied and you can’t understand the reason why.

This is where understanding the requirements to successfully apply for a spousal open work permit (SOWP) comes into play. This post aims to explore the main requirements for applying for a SOWP, and what to do when handling a refusal or rejection.


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 first of the two to receive their work or study permit.

A Spousal Open Work Permit (SOWP) can also be applied in the context of a sponsored spouse/common-law partner living in Canada.


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.

  • The applicant for a spousal open work permit must be able to prove they exist in a genuine relationship with the principal foreign national (for example, marriage certificate, Declaration of common-law relationship)

  • 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.


An application is considered to be refused when it was reviewed by an officer and determined ineligible based on the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. A rejection is slightly different and means that the application was not accepted for processing based on varying factors, which can include a lack of mandatory documentation or signatures on the application forms.

The most common reasons for the refusal of a SOWP are incomplete application forms and the failure to show that the principal foreign national meets the requirements under which the exemption is being sought.

Another common reason for a refused SOWP is the inability to demonstrate that your relationship is authentic using sufficient documented evidence, such as:

  • marriage certificates,

  • proof of common-law union,

  • including a signed statutory declaration of common-law union (as applicable),

  • proof of joint ties together,

  • letters from family members or friends attesting to knowledge of the relationship to name a few.


At Calver Immigration Consulting Inc., we have the expertise and knowledge to assist in reviewing detailed eligibility requirements for spousal open work permits to ensure the application is done right the first time. With our assistance, you will be much better prepared to understand the immigration process and better prepare yourself for future applications.


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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