Open Work Permits for Canada

Under Canadian immigration regulations, foreign spouses and common-law partners of temporary foreign workers and foreign students, who themselves want to work in Canada, will need an open work permit.

In December, 2014, a policy enabling spouses and common-law partners being sponsored through the Family Class’ Inland Spousal/Common-Law Partner Sponsorship Category to apply for an open work permit while their application for permanent residence is being processed.

An open work permit is neither employer nor not job-specific, therefore it allows the holder to work for almost any Canadian employer, without first having to obtain a confirmed offer of employment.

Further, in accordance with the general policy, spouses or common law partners of skilled workers, foreign students, and international students have graduated from a Canadian post-secondary institution, may apply for an open work permit if the principal applicant meets certain requirements.

Spouses or common law partners of skilled workers, may be eligible if the skilled worker:

  • holds a work permit valid for a period of at least six (6) months;
  • is employed in a job corresponding to Skill Level 0, A or B of the National Occupational Classification (NOC); and
  • actually resides or expects to reside in Canada while employed.

Spouse or common-law partner of an international student cannot themselves be full-time students and the international student must:

  • have a valid study permit and be a full-time student at one of these types of schools:
    • a public post-secondary school, such as a college or university, or CEGEP in Quebec
    • a private college-level school in Quebec
    • a Canadian private school that can legally award degrees under provincial law (for example, Bachelors, Masters or Doctorate degree); or
  • if the foreign student has graduated and is the holder of a valid post-graduation work permit for a job related to their field of studies.
    • To be eligible for an open work permit, graduating international students must meet the requirements under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program.

For spouses and common-law partners, open work permits are generally issued with a validity date that coincides with the period of time that their spouse is permitted to work or study in Canada, as the case may be.