Spousal Work Permits

Home Spousal Work Permits

Spouses or common-law partners of skilled workers

Spouses or common-law partners of skilled people coming to Canada as foreign workers may themselves be authorized to work without first having an offer of employment. A dependent spouse is eligible to apply for an open work permit if the principal foreign worker

  • Holds a work permit that is valid for a period of at least 6 months, or, if working under the authority of section R186 without a work permit, presents evidence that they will be working for a minimum of 6 months;
  • Is employed in an occupation that falls within National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill type 0 or skill levels A or B (which generally include management and professional occupations and technical or skilled trades [see the NOC website]);
  • Physically resides or plans to physically reside in Canada while working.

Spouses of Post Graduate Work permit holders

If the principal foreign worker is the holder of an open work permit (e.g., post-graduation work permit, working holiday work permit), Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) cannot assess the skill level based only on the open work permit, and the spouse or common-law partner applying for the C41 exemption will need to attach proof that the principal worker is employed in an occupation in skill level 0, A or B.

The spousal applicant should submit all the supporting documents, including
  • A letter from the principal foreign worker’s current employer confirming employment or a copy of their employment offer or contract; and
  • A copy of the principal foreign worker’s last 3 pay slips.

Spouses or common-law partners of full-time students

Spouses or common-law partners of certain foreign students are allowed to accept employment in the general labour market without the need for an LMIA. This exemption is intended for spouses who are not, themselves, full-time students.

Eligibility: Applicants must provide evidence that they are the spouse or common-law partner of a study permit holder who is a full-time student at either

  • A public post-secondary institution, such as:
    • A college
    • Trade/technical school
    • University
    • CEGEP in Quebec
  • A private post-secondary institution that operates under the same rules and regulations as a public post-secondary institution in Quebec
  • A private or public secondary or post-secondary institution (in Quebec) offering qualifying programs of 900 hours or longer leading to a diploma of vocational studies or an attestation of vocational specialization
  • A Canadian private institution authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees (for example, a bachelor’s degree, master’s or doctorate) but only if the student is enrolled in one of the programs of study leading to a degree, as authorized by the province and not in just any program of study offered by the private institution.

Spouses or common-law partners of full-time students are eligible for open or open/restricted work permits, depending on whether a medical examination has been passed. There is no need for an offer of employment before issuing a work permit.