Spouse or partner sponsorship applications usually take about one year to process. In the meantime, the foreign spouse or partner would usually like to be able to work so that they can contribute to the family income.
Fortunately, the Canadian immigration authorities will issue an open work permit to foreign nationals who have applied for permanent residence under the spouse or partner sponsorship category. However, before applying for a work permit, it is important to understand that an open work permit can only be issued to a foreign spouse or partner applying under the in-Canada sponsorship process, not the outside-Canada process.
Outside-Canada Spousal Sponsorship Category
Applications to sponsor one’s spouse are generally submitted when the sponsored person (foreign spouse) resides abroad while the Canadian sponsor lives in Canada. Such applications are usually processed by the visa office in the country where the foreign spouse resides. Since the foreign spouse will likely be remaining in the foreign country during the processing of the application, this type of application does not provide for the issuance of a spouse or partner open work permit.
Inside-Canada Spousal Sponsorship Category
This category of the sponsorship process allows a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to sponsor his or her foreign spouse in Canada while the spouse is living in Canada under legal temporary status, such as a visitor visa. Under this category, the applicant (foreign spouse) can live in Canada with the Canadian spouse for the duration of the processing of the sponsorship application. This type of application is filed and processed in Canada.
A foreign spouse who has applied for permanent residence under the Inside-Canada Spousal Sponsorship category may also apply for an Open Work Permit while the sponsorship application is being processed. This allows the foreign spouse to work for any Canadian employer while living in Canada and waiting on a final decision regarding the sponsorship application.
How do I know if I am eligible to apply for an Open Work Permit?
In order to be eligible to apply for an open work permit, the applicant must:
- Have a valid temporary resident status (such as work permit, study permit, or tourist visa, or is from a visa-exempt country) and be present in Canada;
- Have submitted an inside-Canada spousal sponsorship application;
- Be in a genuine relationship with the sponsor and living together with the Sponsor;
- Not be medically or criminally inadmissible to Canada.
How Can We Help?
The Immigration Law Firm of Matthew Jeffery specializes in spousal sponsorship and work permits. Fill out our free sponsorship assessment form to see if we can help you bring your spouse to Canada.