Family open work permits for spouses & kids

This is the most updated information we have about family work permits written for migrants in Canada.

Not all the rules have been announced. Immigration Canada is supposed to release the rules (called the public policy) – we will update this page when that information is released. 

Here’s what we know as of 5pm on Wednesday, February 8, 2023. You must meet the qualifications in ALL of the sections below.

This program is for OPEN WORK PERMITS only for SPOUSES/COMMON LAW PARTNERS and WORKING AGE CHILDREN who are dependents. 


  • You may be able to apply for a work permit for a spouse or a common law partner, and dependent children if you have a valid work permit or authorization to work that is valid for six (6) more months when you apply for a family work permit. 
  • Note that study permit holders can apply for their families to join them if they are studying at a public post-secondary institution. Click here for details. 


You may be able to apply on the basis of a work permit, if you fit in ONE of the categories listed here:

  1. You have a valid work permit in the high-waged worker stream of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (to see if you are high-waged or low-waged, you must check your Labour Market Impact Assessment). 
  2. You have an open work permit that was issued because you applied for permanent resident status as 
    1. federal skilled worker class (FSWC)
    2. Canadian experience class (CEC)
    3. federal skilled trades class (FSTC)
    4. caring for children class or caring for people with high medical needs class IF YOU APPLIED BEFORE June 18, 2019
    5. Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) for applicants for whom there are no employer restrictions on nominations
    6. Agri-Food Pilot (AFP)
    7. Quebec skilled worker class (QSWC)


You must additionally meet ALL of the the following requirements:

  1. You are living or plan to live in Canada while working.
  2. You can prove that you are in a genuine relationship with your spouse or common law partner for at least 1 year. 
  3. If you are sponsoring your children, you must prove that they are your dependents
  4. If you are sponsoring your children they must be of working age in the province or territory (check provincial Ministry of Labour website). 
  5. If your spouse or children are in Canada, they either 
    1. Have a valid temporary resident status.
    2. Have applied to extend your status before it expired (maintained status).
    3. Or are eligible to restore your status.


Information updated at 5:30pm on Monday, January 30, 2023 changed the information that was provided as of January 29, 2023. As of 5pm on February 8, 2023, the following people are excluded:

  • Seasonal Agricultural Workers (8 month contracts or less) and other workers in the Primary Agricultural Stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (1+ year contracts). 
  • All low-wage workers in the Temporary Foreign Workers Program are excluded unless:
    • You have a work permit issued because you applied for PR in the Economic Streams (see point 2Bd above)
  • Refugee claimants or refused refugee claimants who have a work permit issued under R206 exemption from an LMIA.
  • All migrants without a valid work permit are excluded.

Migrant fishery workers, care workers, and others are therefore excluded. This is different from the information provided on January 29, 2023.

We still do not know if the following migrants are included or excluded:

  • Open work permits for vulnerable workers
  • Low-wage stream workers but who are now in a high-wage job (TEER 1, 2, or 3). 

We must immediately and quickly organize and speak up to say that all families are equal, and that all migrants must be with our families. The government has said they will do a consultation about migrant agricultural workers, but they have not said anything about low-wage workers like fishery workers and care workers. 


  • Migrant Care Workers/ Health Care Workers: 647-782-6633
  • Migrant Students: 647-858-2854
  • Migrant Fishery Workers: 506-251-7467
  • Migrant Farm Workers: 905-324-2840


You must apply for your open work permit online, unless you are in one of the following categories. The applications are different based on if you are inside Canada or not. Click here to create an account and start your application.

In addition, you must also provide the following information: 

  • If you are sponsoring spouses and common-law partners
    • a copy of your marriage certificate
    • a declaration of your common-law relationship
  • If you are sponsoring dependents:
    • a birth certificate
    • adoption papers
  • A copy of your work permit OR the visitor record with expiry date showing that you’re authorized to work without a work permit with expiry date (for 6 months after the date of application)
  • Proof that the principal foreign worker can work in Canada for 6 months after the date that the family member submits their work permit
    • a copy of the work permit with expiry date
    • a copy of a the visitor record with expiry date showing that you’re authorized to work without a work permit
  • Proof of work 
    • A letter or contract from your current employer (for open work permit holders, such as PGWP or International Experience Canada)

You will have to upload multiple documents in the same field online. Click here to see how


We will be updating this section all day. If you have questions, please contact us on our hotlines. 

  1. So what’s changed?
    • Post graduate work permit holders or other work permit holders through International Experience Canada can now apply for open work permits for their spouses even if they do not have a high-wage job in TEER 1, 2 or 3. 
    • High-wage temporary foreign workers, and those with open work permits under HCCP/HSWP were already able to apply for work or study permits for their families.
  2. Who are dependent children? 
    • Dependent children are those under 22 years old (on the date of application) and do not have a spouse or partner
    • Children who are 22 or older can qualify as dependents if they have depended on their parents for financial support since before they were 22 AND can’t financially support themselves because of a mental or physical condition
  3. My permit was initially for longer than 6 months, but is now currently less than 6 months until it expires. Can I apply?
    • As per the information only released at 5:30pm on January 30, 2023, you will not be able to apply.
  4. What is the processing time? 
    • It varies by country and whether you are applying from outside or inside Canada. To check times, click here
  5. What will the length of the permit be issued to family members? 
    • We don’t know yet.
  6. Can you apply for small children-as old as 3 years old and how?
    • You cannot apply for a work permit for children as old as 3 years old, but you can apply for a visitor’s visa to unite with family members here.  
    • If you have children who are under 18 or 19 years old (depending on the province), and you have a valid study or work permit, you may be able to apply for a study permit for them as long as you meet the requirements. Click here for more details.
  7. What if I have implied status? 
    • Your work permit must be valid for six more months. So implied status is excluded. 

Migrant Workers Alliance for Change is an organization of migrants. We are not part of the government, and we are not immigration consultants or agencies. You will not be charged any fees for this information, and your information will not be be shared with anyone.

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