With a Spousal Open Work Permit, your partner can be employed in Canada during the period of awaiting a verdict from IRCC.
Canada aims to facilitate the immigration of 82,000 individuals as permanent residents annually through the Spousal, Partner, and Children Sponsorship Programs. Nevertheless, the processing of applications under this program by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) may take more than a year. During this waiting period, your spouse or partner may be eligible to acquire a Spousal Open Work Permit (SOWP).
Inland spousal sponsorship applicants may be qualified to receive a Spousal Open Work Permit while their partner’s permanent residency application is being processed.
What is an Open Work Permit?
In contrast to a closed work permit which restricts an individual to a specific employer, an open work permit grants foreign nationals the legal authorization to reside in any part of Canada and work for any employer.
Having an open work permit for employment in Canada alleviates certain obligations required by other temporary work permits, such as a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). Additionally, it is not obligatory to hold a job offer before applying for an open work permit.
Benefits of Spousal Open Work Permit
In the interim, obtaining an open work permit can provide short-term financial relief for your household while IRCC processes your partner’s permanent residency application. In addition, having an open work permit allows couples to cohabit during the waiting period. Without any form of temporary work permit, it is less likely for a foreign national to remain in Canada throughout the entire application process.
Working in Canada while waiting for permanent residency enables individuals to enhance their language proficiency, obtain Canadian work experience, and establish professional and social connections. These are all factors that can contribute positively when applying for permanent residence.
The duration of validity for a Spousal Open Work Permit hinges on the expiration date of the lead applicant’s work permit. For example, if you are on a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) in Canada, your partner’s SOWP will no longer be valid once your PGWP expires. The same principle applies to other forms of temporary residency. If the lead applicant is a Canadian citizen, the validity of your SOWP ends when their passport expires.
Eligibility of Spousal Open Work Permit
There are specific prerequisites that need to be fulfilled to acquire a Spousal Open Work Permit.
The applicant must submit a sponsorship application for permanent residency for their spouse or common-law partner. Moreover, they must hold a valid temporary resident status as a visitor, student, or worker, and both the applicant and sponsor must meet all the eligibility criteria for the spousal/common-law partner sponsorship.
It is noteworthy that the person being sponsored must be residing in Canada and living with their partner. Those who have applied for spousal sponsorship but are residing outside of Canada are not qualified.
How to Apply?
Foreign spouses or partners have the option to apply for a Spousal Open Work Permit simultaneously with their permanent residence application through the spousal sponsorship program, or they can apply at any time later.
After receiving a notification from IRCC that they are qualified for permanent residence or “approved in principle,” your partner can apply for a SOWP online. Being “approved in principle” indicates that they meet the eligibility requirements, but have not yet cleared the medical, security, or background checks.
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