Benefits of a spousal open work permit

spousal sponsorship Inland spousal sponsorship spousal open work permit

The Canadian government offers an open work permit to foreign nationals awaiting a decision on their common-law or spousal sponsorship application.

With the Spousal Open Work Permit (SOWP), inland sponsorship applicants have the possibility to work while their immigration applications are processed.


Here are just some of the benefits of getting a spousal open work permit:

  • Spousal sponsorship applicants can stay in Canada while they wait for a decision on their immigration applications through the SOWP. In general, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) takes about 12 months to process an application for spousal sponsorship. The SOWP allows foreign nationals to work in Canada during this time.
  • The holders of open work permits are free to work for any employer in Canada, unlike closed work permits, which give foreign nationals a limited number of employers and occupations to choose from. Further, employers who hire SOWP holders do not need to get a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
  • Without the SOWP, or another form of temporary status, spousal sponsorship applicants would have to complete the process outside of Canada. SOWP allows couples to live together when their sponsorship application is pending.
  • Gaining Canadian work experience before becoming a permanent resident of Canada can help your career growth. By the time you get permanent residence you will already have some work experience under your belt. According to studies, Canadian work experience corresponds to higher earning potential.

Moreover, while living in Canada, you get the opportunity to build relationships, network, and improve your language skills.


Eligibility Criteria for the spousal open work permit

Spouses and common-law partners who are already living together in Canada qualify for inland sponsorship. The foreign partner must already have temporary status in Canada as a worker, student, or visitor.

To qualify for a spousal open work permit, sponsorship candidates need to meet the following requirements:

  • The applicant must submit a permanent residency application under the Spouse Common-Law Partner Category;
  • Have a Canadian citizen or permanent resident spouse or common-law partner who has submitted a sponsorship application on their behalf; live at the same address as their sponsor; and
  • Applicants must either hold valid temporary resident status in Canada or an approved application for restoration status with authorization to work.

When a foreign spouse applies for permanent residency through spousal sponsorship, they can also apply for an open work permit at that time.

The SOWP can be applied for online by applicants who have already received an approval in principle on their permanent residence application. A letter of approval in principle is an acceptance from IRCC which states that the spouse or partner meets the requirements for permanent residence, yet they have not yet passed the medical, security, and background checks.

The SOWP may be extended if the immigration decision has not been made before it expires. In order to extend their permits, SOWP holders need to apply before the expiry date.

Free Immigration Evaluation