Can the spouse of a work permit holder in Canada apply for an open work permit?

August 27, 2011
Yes. The spouse may apply for an open work permit provided that the principal work permit holder is engaged in a position with skill level 0, A or B under the National Occupation Classification. Further, the work permit of the principal foreign worker must be valid for at least 6 months. If the principal foreign work permit holder has been nominated by a province to permanent residence, then regardless of the skill level of the principle work permit holder’s occupation, the spouse may be issued an open work permit for the duration of the principal foreign worker’s work permit. For this type of “spousal work permit,” a labour market opinion (LMO) from Human Resources and Skill Development Canada (HRSDC) is not required.

Note that in the past the Case Process Centre in Vegreville, Alberta (which is responsible for such type of work permit applications), had issued open worker permits to spouses irrespective of the skill level of the principal foreign worker’s occupation, including many spouses of post-graduation work permit holders. However, Vegreville has recently changed their practice, and spouses of foreign workers who are not in an occupation of the required skill level nor is nominated by a province will most likely be refused an open work permit.

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