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New eligibility requirements regarding the spousal open work permit can impact many international students and their spouses

October 28, 2021

New eligibility requirements regarding the spousal open work permit can impact many international students and their spouses

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things in the processing of study and work permits since most parts of the application process went online. The Canadian Government updated many regulations, implemented new policies, and launched several pathways for transition from temporary to permanent residency. The last trimester of the year is always busy, especially for international students, since at this time of the year, the Immigration Department (IRCC) introduces special measures for the new academic year. Foreign students are encouraged always to check new regulations that may impact their status in Canada and strictly follow them.

Changes to the spousal open work permits in 2021
A new update for the spousal open work permit that was introduced by the IRCC on September 27, 2021, may affect many international students and their families. According to the new regulations, there can be only one principal applicant, which prevents foreign students obtain a spousal open work permit under the C41 or C42 category based on the spousal open work permit. This requirement precludes the study permit holders from abandoning their studies to obtain an open work permit on the basis of the skilled-worker spouses’ permits.

International students coming to Canada with their spouses or common-law partners will have to prove the genuineness of the relationship. Extensively updated new requirements reflect clarification on documents and shed light on how couples can prove their relationships. According to the Canadian Government, a foreign national shall not be considered a spouse or a common-law partner of a person if the marriage or common-law partnership is not genuine, and was entered into primarily for the purpose of acquiring status or privilege.’ Foreign students may be asked by the officers to provide additional documentation or information to confirm the genuineness of the relationship.

Not all spouses of the students will get an open work permit
The other case that affected international students applying for a program in Canada is that, after the new regulations, foreign students must pay attention to whether the program is eligible for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) or not. Now, the spousal open work permit is applicable only to spouses of study permit holders who are eligible for a PGWP. Foreign nationals must hold a study permit and study on a full-time basis in PGWP–eligible study programs and designated learning institutions. In the other words, programs in many private schools will not allow spouses of such students to work. By allowing students’ spouses and common-law partners to come to Canada, the Government wants to increase the competitiveness of Canada’s academic institutions and help foreign students and their families to create a basis to immigrate to the country. Thus, international students must follow all rules and regulations, since otherwise, their partners will not be eligible for a spousal open work permit.

To sum up, international students who desire to come to Canada with their spouses or common-law partners must know these three new measures: first, there will be only one principal applicant, since the Government closed rotating spouses’ ‘loophole’ to prevent foreign students abandon their studies; second, there is an extensive focus on the genuineness of the relationship; third, only partners of students who are eligible for a post-graduation work permit are applicable for the spousal open work permit.

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