IRCC modifies qualifying standards for Spousal Open Work Permits

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IRCC modifies qualifying standards for Spousal Open Work Permits

More information about the modifications to the eligibility requirements for Spousal Open Work Permits (SOWP) has been made public by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

The department made a number of adjustments to Canada’s international student program on January 22, 2024. The wives of foreign students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs will no longer be qualified for SOWPs, according to the IRCC.

Spouses and partners of international students are only eligible for a SOWP as of March 19 if their sponsor is enrolled in a master’s or doctorate program at a Canadian university or polytechnic.

Undergraduate students’ wives or partners are exempt in certain cases. The following professional degree programs at universities also allow spouses of undergraduate students to apply for a SOWP:

Dental Surgery Doctor (DDS, DMD)
Juris Doctor or Bachelor of Law (LLB, JD, BCL)
Medical doctor (MD)
Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD, BS, BSc, BPharm), Doctor of Optometry (OD)
Veterinary medicine doctor (DVM)
Nursing Bachelor of Science (BScN, BSN, BNSc)
Education Bachelor’s Degree (B. Ed.)
Engineering Bachelor’s Degree (B. Eng., BE, BASc)
When applying for a SOWP, spouses and partners must submit two documents: one proving their relationship to the student and the other proving their partner’s enrollment in a program of study leading to a degree. The IRCC acknowledges:

a legitimate Letter of Acceptance (LOA) from an Educational Institution with Designation (DLI)
transcripts from their spouse or partner’s present program, if you have already applied, and a proof of enrollment letter from their spouse or partner’s DLI
According to the IRCC, anyone who submitted a SOWP application before March 19 are still qualified if their partner:

has an active research authorization.
is qualified for a work permit issued after graduation (PGWP).
Is enrolled full-time in any of the following kinds of schools:
a public post-secondary institution, like a university or college; in Quebec, this is known as CEGEP
a private college in Quebec; a private school in Canada authorized by provincial law to confer degrees (e.g., bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees)

For current holders of SOWPs who wish to apply to extend their current permit, these conditions remain the same.

How come you’re not qualified?
If an overseas student’s spouse or partner is no longer eligible for a SOWP, they can apply for a tourist visa (TRV) or another kind of work permit. On the other hand, visitors are not allowed to work in Canada.

Holders of a SOWP are able to work in Canada for nearly any employer. Additionally, it serves to further the IRCC’s mission to encourage family reunification.
To “attack a volume challenge but also integrity challenges with what we believe was an area that was being exploited and not necessarily legitimate,” Immigration Minister Marc Miller, however, stated that he was restricting SOWPs to the partners and spouses of master’s and PhD students in a statement to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) on February 28.

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