Canada Tightens Eligibility Criteria for Spousal Open Work Permits

  • Government of Canada updates conditions for Spousal Open Work Permits
  • Spouses of international students now eligible for SOWPs only if their sponsor is enrolled in a master’s or doctorate program at an accredited institution.
  • Exemptions apply to spouses of undergraduate students in specific professional degree programs.

In a recent development, the government of Canada has implemented stricter eligibility criteria for Spousal Open Work Permits (SOWPs), impacting spouses of international students seeking work permits in the country. Effective March 19, spouses and partners of international students are now only eligible for a SOWP if their sponsor is enrolled in a master’s or doctorate program at an accredited university or polytechnic in Canada.

This change comes amidst broader shifts in Canada’s immigration policies, including a significant reduction in student visa issuances earlier this year. While spouses of undergraduate students face tightened regulations, exceptions exist for those in professional degree programs such as Doctor of Medicine, Dental Surgery, Optometry, Veterinary Medicine, Pharmacy, Law, Nursing, Engineering, and Education at recognized institutions.

It’s important to note that individuals who applied for a SOWP before March 19 remain eligible if their partner meets specific conditions, including having a valid study permit, being eligible for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP), and studying full-time at designated schools. These conditions also apply to current SOWP holders seeking to extend their permits.

This update reflects Canada’s ongoing efforts to manage immigration flows and prioritize certain educational pathways for international students and their spouses.

Syeda Qandeel Zehra
Syeda Qandeel Zehra
Syeda Qandeel Zehra, an MBA holder with four years of content writing experience, is a versatile writer adept in news, blogs, and articles. Specializing in SEO content, she combines business insight with engaging storytelling. Keen on staying updated with industry trends, Syeda crafts compelling and high-ranking content that resonates with her audience.


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