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Spouses Of International Student In Undergraduate And College Programs No Longer Eligible From Work Permits

IRCC introduces revised eligibility criteria for spousal open work permits, making it difficult for the spouses of international students to apply.

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has released more details surrounding changes to eligibility for Spousal Open Work Permits (SOWP). 

Several changes were introduced in January 2024 where IRCC stated that the spouses of international students in undergraduate and college programs will no longer be eligible for SOWPs.

However, with the revised changes as of March 19, 2024, if the spouse or partner of international students are enrolled in a master’s or doctoral degree program at a university or polytechnic institution in Canada, then only they will be eligible for SOWP. 

There are a few exceptions for the spouses or partners of undergraduate students.  Spouses of undergraduate students in one of the following professional degree programs at a university are also eligible to apply for a SOWP:

  • Doctor of Dental Surgery 

  • Bachelor of Law or Juris Doctor 

  • Doctor of Medicine 

  • Doctor of Optometry

  • Pharmacy 

  • Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing 

  • Bachelor of Education 

  • Bachelor of Engineering 

The spouses or partners should provide valid relationship documents to the student and the other document showing proof of their partner’s enrolment in a degree-granting program of study. 

IRCC also informs that the applicants who have applied before March 19, 2024, they are still eligible if: 

  • Has a valid study permit.

  • Is eligible for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP).

  • Is 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 

Navneet Kaur
CanadaEligibility Criteriainternational studentsIRCC UpdatesSpousal open Work Permit