Canada has always been a top destination for international students due to its high-quality education system and welcoming environment. However, recent changes in immigration policies have significantly impacted spouses of study permit holders. This comprehensive guide outlines the updated rules and provides detailed information for those affected.

Eligibility Criteria for Spouses of Study Permit Holders

Study Permit Holder Requirements

For spouses to benefit from the new regulations, the study permit holder must:

  • Be enrolled in a designated learning institution (DLI)
  • Be a full-time student in a post-secondary program
  • Hold a valid study permit

Spouse Requirements

Spouses of study permit holders must meet the following criteria:

  • Be legally married to or in a common-law relationship with the study permit holder
  • Possess a valid passport and travel documents
  • Demonstrate intent to leave Canada after the permit expires

Open Work Permit for Spouses

Application Process

The open work permit allows spouses of study permit holders to work for any employer in Canada. The steps to apply include:

  1. Gather Required Documents: These include a valid passport, marriage certificate, and proof of spouse’s study permit.
  2. Complete the Application: Fill out the necessary forms available on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website.
  3. Pay the Fees: Application fees must be paid online.
  4. Submit the Application: Submit the application through the IRCC online portal.
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Processing Time

The processing time for an open work permit varies but typically takes between 4 to 5 months. Applicants should apply well in advance to avoid delays.

Rights and Restrictions

Employment Opportunities

Spouses with an open work permit can:

  • Work for any employer in Canada
  • Change jobs without updating their permit
  • Gain Canadian work experience, which may help in future immigration applications


There are also restrictions, such as:

  • The work permit is tied to the validity of the study permit
  • Certain jobs may require additional certification or licensing

Pathways to Permanent Residency

Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

Spouses who gain work experience in Canada may be eligible for permanent residency through the Canadian Experience Class. Requirements include:

  • At least 12 months of full-time skilled work experience in Canada
  • Proficiency in English or French
  • Meeting health and security standards
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Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)

Some provinces have specific streams for spouses of international students. These programs often have more relaxed criteria and faster processing times.

Dependent Children

Study Permits for Children

Dependent children of study permit holders can attend Canadian schools without a separate study permit if they are:

  • Under 18 years old (age may vary by province)
  • Enrolled in primary or secondary education

Health Insurance

It is crucial for spouses and dependent children to have adequate health insurance coverage, as they may not be eligible for provincial health plans immediately upon arrival.

Challenges and Solutions

Housing and Cost of Living

Finding affordable housing can be challenging in major Canadian cities. Tips to mitigate this include:

  • Start the search early
  • Consider shared accommodations
  • Explore housing options provided by the educational institution
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Cultural Adjustment

Adapting to a new culture can be difficult. Recommendations for smoother transitions include:

  • Engage in community events
  • Utilize support services offered by institutions
  • Join local expatriate groups

Financial Planning

Effective financial planning is essential for managing living expenses. Strategies include:

  • Create a budget
  • Explore part-time job opportunities for both the student and spouse
  • Apply for scholarships and financial aid


The updated rules for spouses of study permit holders in Canada offer numerous opportunities but also come with specific requirements and challenges. By understanding the eligibility criteria, application processes, and potential pathways to permanent residency, spouses can better navigate their journey in Canada. This guide aims to provide a thorough understanding of these updates to help families plan their future effectively.

By following this guide, spouses of study permit holders can make informed decisions and take advantage of the opportunities available in Canada.

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