CLICK HERE to Register your Business with Us

final 01
Breaking IRCC Updates Eligibility Requirements For Spousal Open Work Permits

Breaking: IRCC Updates Eligibility Requirements For Spousal Open Work Permits

For Spousal Open Work Permits (SOWP), the Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced more details concerning eligibility changes to the route.

On January 22, 2024, the department made numerous changes to Canada’s international student program. According to the IRCC, SOWPs will scrap the eligibility for the spouses of international students in undergraduate and college programs.

** Check your eligibility to Canada with V&I Canada CRS Points Calculator for free.


As of March 19, the spouses/partners of international students are now conditionally eligible for a SOWP. Under this condition, they are eligible only if their sponsor studies in a master’s or doctoral degree program at a polytechnic institution or university in Canada.

However, some exceptions exist for the spouses/partners of undergraduate students. They are eligible to submit SOWP applications if they are enrolled in one of these professional degree programs at a university:

  • Pharmacy (PharmD, BS, BSc, BPharm)
  • Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS, DMD)
  • Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)
  • Doctor of Optometry (OD)
  • Doctor of Medicine (MD)
  • Bachelor of Engineering (B. Eng., BE, BASc)
  • Bachelor of Education (B. Ed.)
  • Bachelor of Law or Juris Doctor (LLB, JD, BCL)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN, BSN, BNSc)

** Willing to migrate to Canada? V&I will guide you in step by step process.

Watch Now

Additionally, to apply for a SOWP, they must provide a relationship evidence document with the student and one document as proof of their partner’s enrolment in a degree program. IRCC accepts the following:

  • A valid Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)
  • Evidence of enrolment letter from their spouse or partner’s DLI
  • Transcripts from their spouse or partner’s current program

What If you have already applied?

According to the IRCC, SOWP applications received before March 19 are still eligible if their partner:

  • Holds a valid study permit
  • Is eligible for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP)
  • Is a full-time student at one of these types of schools:
    • a public post-secondary school, such as a college or university, or CEGEP in Quebec
    • a private college-level school in Quebec
    • a Canadian private school that can legally award degrees under provincial law (for example, a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree)

Furthermore, the same are the requirements for current SOWP holders applying to extend their existing permits.

** Want to work in Canada? V&I is here to help you.

Jobs n Recruitment Banner - 1

What if you’re not eligible?

The ineligible spouses and partners of international students for a SOWP can apply for another work permit type or a visitor visa (TRV). However, those entering Canada as visitors are not allowed to work in the country.

Moreover, a SOWP is intended to promote the IRCC’s mandate of family reunification, enabling holders to work for almost any Canadian employer.


Immigration Minister Marc Miller stated that to encounter the volume and integrity challenges, he restricted the SOWPs to spouses and partners of Masters and PhD students. He believes it was an exploited and not necessarily a legitimate area. He made this statement in his comment to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) on February 28.

We hope you found this information helpful. Follow our blogs for the latest updates and informative content on Canadian immigration.


Related Posts

Leave a Comment

Stay in the loop and never miss a beat - subscribe to our newsletter now!



11.2K Members

Join Our Group


Follow on Facebook


Follow on Twitter


Follow on LinkedIn

350K+ Subscribers

Subscribe on Youtube


Follow on Instagram


Have a Question?

Let us know about your queries by leaving us a message.