Can a Spouse of a Canadian Citizen Work in Canada?


If you are a Canadian citizen and your spouse is not, their ability to work in the country will depend on their immigration status. If your spouse is a permanent resident of Canada, he/she is allowed to work in the country. Your spouse may have visited Canada with a temporary resident visa (visitor visa). In this case, he/she is required to apply for a work permit in order to be employed in Canada.

Can your spouse apply for a work permit while inside Canada?

Generally speaking, to apply for a work permit from inside Canada your spouse must:

  • Have applied for a permanent residence under the in-Canada spousal sponsorship category or
  • Be eligible to apply under the Labour Market Impact Assessment process which allows Canadian employers to hire foreign workers

Can you apply for an open work permit?

An open work permit is a permit that is not job-specific. A work permit issued to spouses of Canadians applying for permanent residence under the in-Canada spousal sponsorship category is an open work permit that will allow the spouse to work for any employer. However, most work permits, including those obtained through the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process, are employer specific.

How to apply for a work permit

You can apply for a work permit online through the IRCC website. You may be asked questions such as your nationality, age, work experience, income, net worth and details on the job offer. A few questions that you may be asked to determine if you are eligible to apply for a work permit include:

  • What would you like to do in Canada?
  • How long are you planning to stay in Canada?
  • Which country issues your passport?
  • Which country do you reside in?
  • Do you have a family member who is a Canadian citizen?
  • Is the family member 18 years or older?
  • What’s your date of birth?
  • Have you received a job offer from a Canadian employer?

After answering these questions, you will then be told which programs you are eligible to apply for based on your answers.

The other option is to apply on paper. Make sure you answer all the questions carefully, truthfully and completely. It’s always best to hire an immigration lawyer who will ensure the process goes smoothly. Submitting the application on your own can lead to mistakes which could cause your application to be delayed or rejected.

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