Spousal Open Work Permit

Posted on 14/08/2018

You have applied to sponsor your spouse’s application for Permanent Residence in Canada. But while you are waiting for the application to be processed, can your spouse apply for a work permit in Canada? Remember that as much as your spouse would love to start working and earn some cash on their own, working under the table in Canada is a tricky proposition at best, and as an applicant for permanent residence, it could very well get your spouse deported, if they are discovered.

It may seem tempting if someone offers you under-the-table work in the grey market, but don’t do it. The risk is never worth it.

The only way to go, as impatient as they may be to roll up their sleeves and start earning a paycheque, is to apply for a work permit. Yes, it will mean more paperwork – whether filling out online forms or paper documents – but in the end it will be worth it. So, how to go about applying for a spousal work permit when your spouse is awaiting permanent residence?


Are you living in Canada already?

Get your Tim Horton’s coffee, maybe a cruller or two, and sit down at the kitchen table and let’s work through your options. If you are living in Canada, your spouse can work in Canada under the following conditions:

  • Your spouse has a Temporary Residence Permit that is valid for 6 months or more. OR
  • Your spouse has obtained a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), that shows that an employer needs a foreign worker for a job that a Canadian or Permanent Resident isn’t available for. OR
  • Your spouse is eligible to apply for a work permit based on an LMIA exemption. OR
  • Your spouse has applied for Permanent Residence under the Spouse or Common-Law Partner Class. This means that you are a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident who has applied to sponsor your spouse and that you, the sponsor, are:
    • Either a Permanent Resident living in Canada, a Canadian Citizen living in Canada, or a Canadian Citizen living abroad who has demonstrated to immigration authorities that they will move to Canada with their sponsored spouse
    • At least 18 years of age
    • Not receiving Social Assistance (aside from Disability Payments)
    • Earn a sufficient level of income to support your spouse in Canada

This means that a sponsored spouse who is living in Canada but has not yet received their Permanent Residence, may be eligible to apply for an open work permit. The following table helps you choose how to apply for an open work permit, depending on your situation as a sponsored spouse or common-law partner.

StatusWhat to Apply ForDocumentsWhere to Send
Not yet submitted sponsorship applicationsSponsorship
Permanent Residence
Open Work Permit
All supporting documents for all 3 applications
Proof of Payment
CPC Mississauga
P.O. Box 5040 Stn. B
Mississauga ON
L5A 3A4
Permanent Residence NOT yet approved in principleOpen Work PermitAll supporting documents
Proof of Payment
CPC Vegreville
6212-55th Av. Unit777
Vegreville, AB
T9C 1X6
Permanent Residence approved in principleOpen Work Permit All supporting documents
Proof of Payment
CPC Vegreville
6212-55th Av. Unit777
Vegreville, AB
T9C 1X6
Open Work Permit – online applicationAll supporting documents scanned and uploaded
Proof of Payment
Go to IRCC's website to begin your online application for an open work permit.

There is another important note is that at the time when you submit your open work permit application together with your application for permanent residence under the sponsorship, you, the applicant, must have a valid temporary resident status (e.g. visitor, student, or foreign worker), otherwise, your open work permit application will not be processed until your application is approved in principle.


How to Apply for a Spousal Work Permit

You will apply for an Open Work Permit using the following:

  • Application to Change Conditions, Extend my Stay or Remain in Canada as a Worker form IMM 5710.
  • Document Checklist form IMM 5556, along with all the required supporting documents,
  • Declaration of Statutory Common-Law Union form IMM 5409
  • Use of a Representative form IMM 5476 if applicable
  • Authority to release personal information to a designated individual form IMM 5475 if applicable
  • Instruction Guide form IMM 5553

It is important to remember that the IRCC will check to ensure that any job offer you may have received is from a legal Canadian employer with a valid job offer.

Also, your open work permit is NOT a visitor visa. You will need to ensure that you maintain your condition as a legal temporary resident of Canada, until such time as you receive your permanent residency. If you wish to travel outside Canada as a spousal applicant for permanent residence, you will still need a valid visitor’s visa in order to re-enter Canada.

In addition, all applicants for a work permit in Canada must:

  • Leave Canada at the end of your employment (or have obtained permanent residence through your spousal sponsorship application)
  • Show that you or your spouse has enough money to support you during your stay
  • Be law-abiding and have no criminal record (you may have to provide a Police Certificate)
  • Not be a danger to the security of Canada
  • Be in good health and, if required, complete a medical examination
  • Not seek employment with an ineligible employer. Go here to see a list of non-compliant employers that you may NOT work for.
  • Not seek employment with an employer who offers erotic services like: striptease or erotic dancing, escort services, or massage services
  • Provide any and all documents requested by immigration authorities in order to establish your admissibility. This may include:
    • If you have a job offer you should provide a letter from your employer along with a copy of the LMIA provided by ESDC (Employment and Social Development Canada). OR
    • Offer of Employment Number (the letter “A” followed by 7 numbers) which your employer will provide you with.
    • Evidence you meet the requirements of the job, like educational credentials or skills-based certificates.
  • Depending on your home country, you may have already submitted a medical examination as part of your spousal sponsorship application. If not, you may be required to submit one. Go here to find a panel physician who is authorized to perform a medical examination. If you receive instructions to obtain a medical exam, you must take the exam within 30 days of receiving the instructions from the visa office. You can also directly contact a panel physician to get what is called an Upfront Medical Exam that you do before you send in your application. In either case, bring the following to your medical appointment:
    • Valid ID with your photograph and signature
    • Prescription Glasses or Contact Lens if you use them
    • Any medical reports or test results if you have medical condition
    • Medical Report form IMM 1017E which will be sent to you by the Visa Office
  • As well, you may be required to submit biometric information. This involves digital fingerprints and photographs and is a safe and quick process. Please go here to see if your country is one where applicants are required to submit biometrics. Further information on biometrics is also available here.
    • In general, applicants from Europe, Africa, and the Middle East are required to give biometrics, but you should use the link to ensure whether you are required to give biometrics.
    • Please note that biometric collection points will be established in Canada, starting in 2019.

When you have completed filling out form IMM 5710, Application to Change Conditions, Extend my Stay or Remain in Canada as a Worker, be sure to click on the “Validate” button at the top or bottom of the online form before you print it out. This will produce a Bar Code page (page 5 of 5) that you should place on the top of your application where it will be clearly visible to the immigration officials processing your form. If you complete form IMM 5710 by hand, there will be no Bar Code page.

As a spousal applicant you will be 18 years of age or older, and you must date and sign the printed form by filling out the applicable boxes at the bottom of the page.


Work Permit Fees

The following fees are applicable for Work Permits, including an Open Work Permit:

ApplicationAmount in CAD$
Work permit including extensions - per person$155
Work permit including extensions – group of artists (3 or more)$465
Restore your status as a worker
Restore status $200
Get a new work permit $155
Open work permit including extensions – per person$100

Please note that if you are applying for an Open Work Permit you must pay:

  • BOTH the Work Permit Processing Fee of $155 AND
  • the Open Work Permit Fee of $100
  • for a Total Fee of $255

Please note that if you are deemed ineligible to apply, your fees will NOT be refunded. If your application has started to be processed by the CPC, your work permit processing fee will NOT be refunded, regardless if you are rejected. If your application is refused your open work permit fee will be refunded. See the Payment Issue Table below for more information.

To pay the fee, as usual, you will need:

  • A valid email address
  • A printer or access to a printer
  • A valid Credit Card or a Canadian Debit Card
  • To go here to pay online. Please remember:
    • After following the instructions to pay online,
    • Click on the button that prints your official IRCC Receipt
    • Print TWO (2) copies: one for your records and one for your application
    • DO NOT EXIT the payments page until you have printed your receipt. Your printed IRCC official receipt is the only acceptable receipt unless you have an IMM 5401 payment receipt date-stamped before April 1, 2016, by a Canadian Financial Institution.

Remember to do your best to calculate and pay the correct amount of fees. If not, your application will be delayed, as explained in the following table:

Fee Payment issuePossible Delay by Authorities:
No Fee included in your applicationYour application will be returned to you and until you return it with proof of payment of fees it will not be processed.
Insufficient Fees included in your applicationYour application will be returned with information on what the correct amount of fees is. Until you return the application with proof of payment of the correct fees, it will not be processed.
Overpayment of Fees in your applicationYour application will be processed, and immigration authorities will automatically send you a refund.
Required Biometric Fee not includedImmigration authorities will inform you of the amount of the biometric fee and how to pay it. Your application will resume processing when you pay the biometric fee and provide a receipt to IRCC.
Request for a refund of processing feeIf you apply in writing to the Case Processing Centre before they begin to process your application, a refund will be paid to the person indicated in the “Payer Information” section of your printed payment receipt that you received when you paid the fees online.


Send your application by mail to the following address:

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada – Work permit for spouses and common-law partners – Station 777
CPC – Edmonton
9700 Jasper Avenue, Suite 55
Edmonton, AB
75J 4C3

If you wish to apply online go here. Remember that to apply online you will need:

  • a scanner to scan and then upload your documents, along with
  • a valid Credit Card.


Waiting for a Response from IRCC

Once you have sent in your application for an Open Work Permit, one of the following situations will usually happen next:

  • Authorities will inform you in writing if you need to provide further documents etc.
  • If your application is approved, you will receive a response in the form of an immigration document.
  • If your application is rejected, you will have to leave Canada once your Temporary Residence Permit expires.
  • If your application is rejected as “incomplete”, you will have to start the application process over and re-apply. Make sure you maintain your legal Temporary Resident status.
  • Remember to go here to update any changes to your contact information including:
    • Mailing address
    • Phone number
    • Email address
    • Fax number

You can check on the status of your application by

  • going here and following the instructions, or
  • by going to the “Contact Us” page at IRCC’s website

t’s always a great idea to start working as soon as possible when you get to Canada. Just remember to make sure you’re working legally which means that you have obtained the right work permit given your status. Working illegally is a great way to ensure you get deported. And no one wants that outcome. We at Maxcan Immigration have handled many spousal sponsorship work permits. If you’re not sure what to do, give us a call.

Posted in Tips and tagged Spousal Sponsorship, Work Permit

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