JH Cliick Immigration

How to Apply for a Spousal Open Work Permit as a Foreign Student in Canada

Canada is a popular destination for international students, offering high-quality education and a multicultural environment. One of the benefits of studying in Canada is the opportunity for spouses of international students to obtain a Spousal Open Work Permit (SOWP). This permit allows the spouse to work in Canada while their partner pursues their studies. In this blog, we will explain the process for obtaining a Spousal Open Work Permit, detailing the eligibility criteria, required documentation, and benefits of the program for both students and their spouses.

Understanding the Spousal Open Work Permit (SOWP)

A Spousal Open Work Permit allows the spouse or common-law partner of an international student with a valid study permit to work in Canada. Unlike employer-specific work permits, an open work permit is not tied to a specific job or employer, providing greater flexibility in job searching and employment opportunities.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for a Spousal Open Work Permit, the following criteria must be met:

  1. Valid Study Permit: The international student must have a valid study permit and be enrolled in a full-time program at a designated learning institution (DLI) in Canada.

  2. Eligible Educational Institution: The student must be studying at one of the following types of institutions:

    • A public post-secondary institution, such as a college or university, or CEGEP in Quebec.

    • A private post-secondary institution that operates under the same rules as public institutions in Quebec.

    • A private or public secondary or post-secondary institution in Canada offering programs of at least six months that lead to a degree, diploma, or certificate.

  3. Relationship Proof: The applicant must provide proof of their relationship with the international student, such as a marriage certificate or proof of common-law partnership.

  4. Valid Status in Canada: The applicant must have valid temporary resident status in Canada or be able to obtain it.

Required Documentation

When applying for a Spousal Open Work Permit, ensure that you have the following documents ready:

  1. Completed Application Form: Use the appropriate form (IMM 5710) for applying from within Canada or (IMM 1295) for applying from outside Canada.

  2. Proof of Relationship: Provide documents such as a marriage certificate, joint bank accounts, lease agreements, or affidavits from friends and family to prove your relationship.

  3. Copy of Study Permit: A copy of the international student’s valid study permit.

  4. Proof of Enrolment: A letter from the student’s educational institution confirming their enrollment in a full-time program.

  5. Passport and Travel Documents: Copies of the applicant’s passport, including all pages with stamps, visas, and personal information.

  6. Digital Photo: A recent passport-sized photo of the applicant.

  7. Medical Exam: Depending on your country of residence, you might need to undergo a medical exam and provide the results.

  8. Proof of Financial Support: Bank statements, pay stubs, or letters from financial sponsors showing that you have enough funds to support yourself while in Canada.

  9. Application Fee: Payment of the application fee, which can be done online.

Application Process

Step 1: Prepare Your Application

Collect all the required documents and complete the appropriate application form. Ensure all information is accurate and complete, as incomplete applications can result in delays or refusals.

Step 2: Submit Your Application

You can submit your application online or by paper. Online submission is generally faster and allows you to track the status of your application. If applying from within Canada, use the IRCC online portal. If applying from outside Canada, submit through the nearest Visa Application Centre (VAC).

Step 3: Biometrics

After submitting your application, you may receive a request to provide biometrics (fingerprints and photo). Follow the instructions to complete this step promptly.

Step 4: Medical Exam (if required)

If a medical exam is required, you will receive instructions on how to complete it. Ensure you attend the medical exam with an IRCC-approved panel physician.

Step 5: Wait for Processing

Processing times can vary depending on your country of residence and whether you applied online or by paper. You can check current processing times on the IRCC website.

Step 6: Receive a Decision

You will be notified of the decision on your application through your IRCC account or by mail if you applied by paper. If approved, you will receive your Spousal Open Work Permit.

Benefits of the Spousal Open Work Permit Program

1. Employment Flexibility

A Spousal Open Work Permit allows the holder to work for any employer in Canada, providing flexibility and increasing job opportunities. This flexibility can help spouses find employment that suits their skills and career goals.

2. Financial Support

With the ability to work in Canada, the spouse can contribute financially, reducing the economic burden on the international student and improving the overall financial stability of the family.

3. Career Development

Working in Canada provides valuable work experience and can enhance the spouse’s professional skills and career prospects, both in Canada and internationally.

4. Pathway to Permanent Residence

Gaining Canadian work experience through a Spousal Open Work Permit can be beneficial when applying for permanent residence. Programs such as the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) under the Express Entry system value Canadian work experience highly.

Practical Tips for a Successful Application

1. Ensure Complete Documentation

Double-check that all required documents are included and that they are accurate and up-to-date. Missing or incorrect information can lead to delays or refusals.

2. Apply Early

Submit your application as soon as possible to avoid any gaps in status or delays. Processing times can vary, so early application is advisable.

3. Use Online Resources

Utilize resources such as the IRCC website, online forums, and support groups for guidance and up-to-date information on the application process.

4. Seek Professional Advice

If you are unsure about any part of the application process, consider consulting with a licensed immigration consultant or lawyer. Professional advice can help ensure that your application is complete and increase your chances of success.


Obtaining a Spousal Open Work Permit is a valuable opportunity for the partners of international students in Canada. It allows spouses to work, gain Canadian experience, and contribute financially while their partners pursue their studies. By understanding the eligibility criteria, gathering the required documentation, and following the application process carefully, you can successfully obtain a Spousal Open Work Permit and enjoy the many benefits it offers.