who can apply for spouse open work

Are you a spouse or common-law partner of a skilled worker or student in Canada? If so, you may be eligible for a Spousal Open Work Permit (SOWP) visa, which allows you to work for any employer in Canada while your partner’s work permit is valid. This type of visa not only provides flexibility for your career opportunities but also allows you to contribute to the Canadian economy.

Learn more about the requirements, application process, and common reasons for rejection for a SOWP visa, and take advantage of this opportunity for you and your family.

What is a Spousal Open Work Permit (SOWP) Visa?

A Spousal Open Work Permit (SOWP) Visa is a type of Canadian work permit that is granted to the spouse or common-law partner of a foreign worker or student in Canada. The permit allows the spouse or partner to work in Canada without the need for a job offer or a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which is normally required for other work permits. This type of permit provides flexibility for the spouse or partner to seek and obtain employment in Canada, which can be particularly helpful in cases where the family needs two incomes to support themselves. SOWP Visas can also be applied for from inside or outside of Canada, making it easier for families to stay together during the immigration process. Overall, the Spousal Open Work Permit is a valuable tool for families to remain together and prosper in Canada.

Who can apply for a Spouse Open Work Permit?

A Spouse Open Work Permit is available to spouses or common-law partners of temporary foreign workers, international students, or skilled foreign workers who have received a job offer in Canada. This permit allows them to work in any job and for any employer in Canada without the need for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). It provides spouses or partners with the opportunity to gain Canadian work experience, contribute to the Canadian economy, and support their families. To apply for this permit, one must meet certain eligibility requirements and follow the application process as outlined by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Eligibility Requirements for a SOWP Visa

To be eligible to apply for a SOWP Canada (Spouse or Common-Law Partner Work Permit) visa, the following requirements must be met:

  • The applicant’s spouse or common-law partner must have a valid study or work permit in Canada.
  • The applicant must be married to or in a common-law partnership with the permit holder.
  • The applicant must apply for the SOWP from outside of Canada.
  • The applicant must undergo and provide a medical clearance certificate and a police clearance certificate.
  • The applicant must have enough money to support themselves and any family members who accompany them to Canada.
  • The applicant must not have a criminal record and must not be a security risk to Canada.

SOWP Visa Consultant

How long is a Canadian Spousal Open Work Permit valid?

A Canadian Spousal Open Work Permit is typically valid for a period of up to two years. However, the length of validity may depend on a variety of factors such as the immigration status of the spouse and the type of application made. It’s important to note that a spousal open work permit may also be renewed or extended if necessary. Therefore, individuals need to keep themselves informed and up-to-date with the latest immigration laws and regulations.

Reasons For SOWP Visa Rejection

There could be various reasons why a Statement of Work and Performance (SOWP) visa application is rejected. 

  • One of the primary reasons could be incomplete or incorrect documentation. It is crucial to ensure that all necessary forms are completed correctly and that the required supporting documents are provided.
  • Another reason could be a lack of credibility in the application. The immigration officer may have concerns regarding the applicant’s genuine intent to perform the proposed work or whether the applicant will abide by the terms and conditions of the visa.
  • Additionally, a prior immigration violation or criminal record could result in a SOWP visa rejection. This information may cause the immigration officer to question the applicant’s suitability to be granted a visa.

Some of the other additional reasons for rejection include:

  • Inadequate Proof of Funds.
  • No showing or having enough proof to depart Canada after the end of your stay
  • Not having sufficient evidence of a spouse’s employment or study in DLI.
  • If the principal applicant has been previously sponsored by a Canadian or permanent resident of Canada.
  • If the sponsor has previously failed to financially support the spouse.

It is important to understand and address these concerns before applying to increase the chances of visa approval. Seeking professional advice and assistance could also help ensure that the visa application is accurate, complete, and credible.

Are SOWP and Dependent PR the same?

No, SOWP (Spouse Open Work Permit) and Dependent PR (Dependent Permanent Resident) are not the same. While both refer to immigration statuses in Canada, they are distinct from one another in terms of status, eligibility, purpose, and application requirements.

SOWP is a type of work permit that allows foreign nationals to work in Canada for a specified period. This is usually issued when the partner is on a Temporary Resident visa, such as a work or study permit. It is valid only until the partner’s work or study visa expires.

On the other hand, Dependent PR refers to the status of family members (spouses or children) of someone who has already been granted permanent residency in Canada. This allows them to live and work in Canada without the need for a work permit. However, not all family members are eligible for dependent PR, and the application process can be lengthy and complex.

Therefore, while both SOWP and Dependent PR are related to immigration to Canada, they are quite distinct from each other in terms of purpose, eligibility, and requirements.


In conclusion, obtaining a Spousal Open Work Permit (SOWP) visa can provide numerous benefits for spouses of foreign workers and students in Canada. It not only allows them to work and contribute to the Canadian economy, but it also provides a pathway to permanent residency and ultimately Canadian citizenship. Overall, the SOWP visa is an excellent option for spouses looking to make Canada their new home and start a new life with their partner.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Can my Spouse work for a Canadian Employer with SOWP?

As SOWP is an open work permit, your spouse can work for any certified Canadian employer anywhere in Canada with limited constraints.

  • How long does it take to process SOWP in Canada?

The processing time for a Canadian SOWP can be anywhere between a month and three.

  • Can I go with my kid on a SOWP visa?

Yes, you can bring your dependent child on a visitor visa (if the child is under the age of 4) or a minor study visa (if the child is above the age of 4).

  • Can I apply for SOWP inside Canada?

Yes, the applicant can apply from outside or in Canada.

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