In late 2022, Canada announced a new temporary two-year measure expanding eligibility for spouse or common-law partner open work permits. This is great news for IEC permit holders and their eligible loved ones, so let’s clarify these changes!
But first of all, you may want to take a refresher on the definition of “spouse” and “common-law partner” for Canadian immigration purposes. This will help you find out if you meet one of the basic eligibility requirements for an open work permit.
The article Open and Closed Work Permits in Canada – The Fine Print Explaining the Difference is also helpful in understanding various situations.
Open work permit eligibility requirements for a spouse/common-law partner up to January 29, 2023
Under the old system, the spouse or common-law partner of a closed work permit holder (e.g. Young Professionals or International Co-op permits) was eligible to apply for an open work permit if the principal foreign worker had secured a TEER 0, 1, 2 or 3 job (“TEER” is the former “NOC”).
The spouse or common-law partner of a Young Professionals permit holder working a TEER 4 job—workers are eligible for a Young Professional permit if can present a higher education diploma or certificate for a TEER 4 job—was not eligible for an open work permit.
And again, under the old system, the spouse or common-law partner of an open work permit holder (e.g. Working Holiday work permit) was eligible to apply for an open work permit if the principal foreign worker had secured a TEER 0, 1, 2 or 3 job and had started to receive their first Canadian pay slips.
Open work permit eligibility requirements for a spouse/common-law partner as of January 29, 2023
Under a new two-year measure (until 2025), the spouse or common-law partner of a foreign work permit holder is eligible for an open work permit regardless of the job category of the principal foreign worker. Basically, TEER 1, 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 jobs are all eligible.
These are the requirements set by the Government of Canada:
The principal foreign worker must meet 4 requirements:
- They work in Canada with one of the following:
- Their work permit or their authority to work without a work permit must be valid in Canada for at least 6 months after the family member’s open work permit application is received.
- They’re employed [in Canada] at the time of the family members’ application.
- They’re living or plan to live in Canada while working.
– a valid work permit (employer-specific or open under a non-spousal category)
– an authorization to work without a work permit (exception: family members of students who can work off campus or who are transitioning to PGWP are not eligible)
In essence, the spouse or common-law partner of a Working Holiday permit holder is eligible to apply for an open permit the same as before. However, pay slips are no longer required, a letter or contract from the employer is enough as proof of employment in Canada.
What’s the process to apply for an open work permit as the spouse or common-law partner of a foreign worker?
According to the official instructions, the spouse or common-law partner must apply online for their open work permit.
However, on our Facebook group, Working Holiday permit holders report that it’s not necessarily required to apply for the open work permit online before going to Canada.
Upon landing in Canada, the principal foreign worker and their spouse or common-law partner must present the following supporting documents:
- A work permit valid in Canada for at least 6 months (or a port of entry [POE] letter if you’re landing in Canada)
- A copy of the marriage certificate or a declaration of the common-law relationship
- A job letter or contract (ideally, a six-month contract minimum, otherwise it might not meet requirements)
- (Optional) Your last pay slips, if you’ve already started working in Canada
Since this is a relatively new change, you may want to print out the page Changes to open work permit eligibility for family members of foreign workers as published on the Government of Canada website.
If your spouse or common-law partner is already in Canada with you, you will have to “flagpole” to have the open work permit issued.
Any tips on finding a job in Canada from abroad? I’d like to get my spouse or common-law partner an open work permit right away…
Read Working Holiday (IEC): finding a job in Canada from your home country? for tips and advice!
Browse all the job offers posted on pvtistes.net—these employers are familiar with the Working Holiday permit and many of them know they can find awesome foreign talent! These websites are also very useful for your job hunt.
Create a great Canadian version of your resume!
Add your resume to our database and update it regularly.