As per the Canadian immigration rules and regulations, international spouses and common-law partners of temporary foreign workers and international students, who want to be able to work in Canada, will need an open work permit.

Open work permits may also be available through the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program for international students.

A pilot program introduced in December 2014, by the IRCC, allows spouses and common-law partners of Temporary Foreign Workers, being sponsored through the Inland Spousal/Common-Law Partner Sponsorship Category of the Family Class, would typically be granted an open work permit while the application for permanent residence is in processing.

The recipient of an open work permit is allowed work for any Canadian employer, without first receiving a confirmed offer of employment. A Canadian open work permit is not job-specific.

Under Canadian immigration regulations, open work permits may be applied for by the following individuals:

  • the spouses or common-law partners of temporary foreign workers;
  • the spouses or common-law partners of international students;
  • international students who have already graduated from any Canadian post-secondary institution.

To be eligible for an open work permit, graduating international students must achieve the requirements under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program.

To be considered eligible to receive an open work permit, the spouse or common-law partner of a temporary foreign worker must demonstrate that:

  • The principal temporary foreign worker has employment in Canada which achieves the following skill standards:
    • at a skilled management level, or
    • a job in a skilled professional occupation, or
    • as a technical or skilled tradesperson.
  • The skill level of the principal temporary foreign worker’s job must be a level 0, A or B, according to the National Occupational Classification (NOC).
  • The skill level requirement does not apply to principal temporary foreign workers nominated for permanent residence by a province or territory (provincial nominees).
  • The principal temporary foreign worker is permitted to work in Canada for not less than six months.

The common-law partner or spouse of an international student may not themselves be full-time students. The following factors must be demonstrated to be eligible for an Open Work Permit:

  • The international student is studying in a Canadian post-secondary, publicly-funded and diploma/degree-granting educational institution; or
  • The international student has graduated and is the recipient of a valid work permit for a job related to their studies.

For common-law partners and spouses, open work permits are typically issued with a valid date that coincides with the specified time-period their spouse is scheduled to work or study in Canada, or any remaining time-period – for cases where the spouse or common-law partner entered Canada after the international student.

Open work permits may also be made available to candidates for the International Experience Canada program.

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