Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has released more details surrounding changes to eligibility for Spousal Open Work Permits (SOWP).

On January 22, 2024, the department introduced several changes to Canada’s international student program. Among them, IRCC said that the spouses of international students in undergraduate and college programs will no longer be eligible for SOWPs.

As of March 19, 2024, partners and spouses of international students are eligible for a SOWP only if their sponsor is enrolled in a master’s or doctoral degree program at a university or polytechnic institution in Canada.

There are some exceptions for the spouses or partners of undergraduate students. Spouses of undergraduate students in one of the following professional degree programs at a university are also eligible to apply for an SOWP:

• Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS, DMD).

• Bachelor of Law or Juris Doctor (LLB, JD, BCL).

• Doctor of Medicine (MD).

• Doctor of Optometry (OD).

• Pharmacy (PharmD, BS, BSc, BPharm).

• Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM).

• Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN, BSN, BNSc).

• Bachelor of Education (B. Ed.).

• Bachelor of Engineering (B. Eng., BE, BASc).

Spouses and partners applying for a SOWP must provide documents that prove a relationship to the student and one document showing proof of their partner’s enrolment in a degree-granting program of study. IRCC accepts:

i) A valid Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI).

ii) A proof of enrolment letter from their spouse or partner’s DLI.

iii) Transcripts from their spouse or partner’s current program

What if you already applied?

IRCC says that those who applied for a SOWP before March 19 are still eligible if their partner:

• Has 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;

i) A public post-secondary school, such as a college or university, or CEGEP in Quebec.

ii) A private college-level school in Quebec.

iii) A Canadian private school that can legally award degrees under provincial law (for example, a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree)

These requirements are the same for current SOWP holders who apply to extend their existing permits.

What if you’re not eligible?

Spouses and partners who no longer meet the revised eligibility criteria have alternative options. They can explore other types of work permits or apply for a visitor visa (TRV). However, it’s crucial to note that individuals entering Canada on a visitor visa are not permitted to work.

IRCC’s decision to narrow the eligibility for SOWPs stems from the aim to manage application volume and ensure the integrity of the program.

Immigration Minister Marc Miller highlighted the need to focus SOWPs on partners of master’s and PhD students to address potential misuse of the program.

So, while these changes might affect some spouses of international students, they’re aimed at keeping the system running smoothly and helping families stay together in Canada.

For more information about our admission and study permit services kindly visit our website at or call +2348165165009 or +14034376814 to speak with experts.

P. S. – You can join our community on Telegram, where you get the latest immigration updates, interact with our team and other prospective immigrants, and get access to exclusive resources and materials to help you in your immigration journey.

Kindly click on the button below:

Kisha Immigration is a licensed Canadian immigration company

Take a Free Assessment for Canada Immigration
Useful Links

The information on this site is of a general nature and is not intended as legal advice

Copyright 2023. All Right Reserved.
Go To Top

Request a Call Back