Restrictions on Work Permits for Spouses of Students

Recently, the federal government announced significant new limits to the international student program to reduce the intake of international students in Canada amidst increasing pressure during the housing and cost of living crises.

As part of further restrictions, beginning today, March 19th, 2024, the government is restricting the availability of open work permits to spouses of students in one of the following degree programs:

  • master’s or doctoral degree program in a university or polytechnic institution, or
  • one of the following professional degree programs at a university:
    • Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS, DMD)
    • Bachelor of Law or Juris Doctor (LLB, JD, BCL)
    • Doctor of Medicine (MD)
    • Doctor of Optometry (OD)
    • Pharmacy (PharmD, BS, BSc, BPharm)
    • Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)
    • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN, BSN, BNSc)
    • Bachelor of Education (B. Ed.)
    • Bachelor of Engineering (B. Eng., BE, BASc)

Previously, spouses of all full-time students at designated learning institutions who were eligible for post-graduation work permits, including college diploma and undergraduate degree students, could apply for open work permits. Spouses who had their open work permits issued under the previous policy will still be eligible to extend their work permits. However, spouses of new international students coming to Canada will only be eligible for an open work permit if the international student is studying for one of the above-listed degrees.

If you or your employee will be affected by this change, reach out to one of our professionals today for a consultation. Our Canadian immigration legal professionals can be reached by phone (416 368 1111) or via email:;;;;;