Inland Spousal/Common-Law Partner Sponsorship: Open Work Permit Pilot Program

Last updated: 22 June 2021

How to work in Canada under a spousal open work permit for spouses and partners

Spouses and common-law partners of Canadians or Permanent Residents can get an open work permit while their inland sponsorship application for permanent residence is being processed.

Sponsored individuals can work for any employer of their choice in Canada so they can financially support themselves and their family during the immigration application process. This comprehensive CanadaVisa page outlines how you can benefit from this open work permit.

Contact a Campbell Cohen Lawyer for Assistance


The Spousal Sponsorship program is a subsection of the Family Class immigration category, under which a Canadian or permanent resident (the sponsor) may sponsor his or her spouse or common-law partner (the sponsored person) for Canadian permanent residence. Inland sponsorship is a type of spousal sponsorship available to couples who are already living together in Canada where the spouse/common-law partner has temporary status in Canada, either as a worker, student, or visitor.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) aims to process applications submitted through the Spousal Sponsorship program within 12 months. The Open Work Permit Pilot Program can help to mitigate the economic and emotional hardships of a long application process by removing the need for a spouse to choose between being with his or her partner and being able to work.

An open work permit is neither employer nor job-specific and it allows the holder to work for almost any Canadian employer, without first having to obtain a confirmed offer of employment. These work permits are typically valid for two years or to the date of the applicant’s passport expiry date, whichever comes first.

This pilot program was first introduced for a period of 12 months in December 2014. It has since been extended until the regulatory changes are completed to implement the pilot as permanent policy.

Eligibility Criteria

In order to be issued an open work permit, the following criteria must be met:

  • A permanent residence application must be submitted under the Spousal/Common-Law Partner Sponsorship Immigration Program;
  • The applicant must reside at the same address as the sponsor (spouse/common-law partner);
  • The applicant must have valid temporary resident status (as a visitor, student, or worker); and
  • The applicant and the sponsor must meet all eligibility requirements under spousal or common-law partner sponsorship.

Contact Campbell Cohen Immigration Law Firm for Assistance

Would you like to enter Canada to work on a temporary basis? The Campbell Cohen immigration law firm can help. Campbell Cohen offers over 45 years of expertise assisting workers and employers navigate Canadian immigration regulations.

Please complete this short form to submit your work permit query directly to a Campbell Cohen immigration lawyer. Our Work Permit Team is here to help: