Help your spouse or common-law partner work in Canada

Determine your eligibility

Your spouse or common-law partner may apply for a work permit if:

  • you are a full-time student at:
    • a public post-secondary institution, such as a college or university or collège d’enseignement général et professionnel (CEGEP) in Quebec
    • a private post-secondary institution that operates under the same rules and regulations as a public institution, and receives at least 50 percent of its financing for its overall operations from government grants (currently, only private college-level educational institutions in Quebec qualify) or
    • a Canadian private institution authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees
  • you have a valid study permit


Work permits for your spouse or common-law partner are valid for the same period of time as your study permit.

Note: Accompanying spouses or common-law partners of foreign students are eligible for an open work permit, which means they do not need a job offer or a labour market opinion from Service Canada.

For more information about a labour market opinion, see Working Temporarily in Canada.

Apply for a work permit

There are three steps to apply for a work permit:

1. Get the application package

The package includes the application guide and all the forms you need to fill out. Download and print the application package.

Read the guide carefully before you complete the application form. The fee for processing your application is not refundable, so make sure you are eligible for a work permit before you apply.

Photocopy the blank forms and use one as a working copy. Keep the working copy for your records.

The application form contains instructions. Read those instructions and be sure to provide the required documents. If information or documents are missing, your application may be delayed. The document checklist in the application package will enumerate what documents to include.

Answer all questions carefully, completely and truthfully. Answers can be typed or handwritten (print clearly in black ink). Incomplete applications will not be processed. They will be returned to you. This will delay the application process.

2. Pay your application fees

The application processing fee is payable in Canadian funds only.

Paying your fees online is the preferred method of payment.

To pay your fees on the internet, you must:

  • have a PDF Reader;
  • have a printer;
  • have a valid email address;
  • have a Visa®, MasterCard® or American Express® credit card;
  • print the “receipt of payment” page and include it with your application; and
  • pay your fees online when you are ready.

To pay your fees at a financial institution in Canada, you must do the following:

Starting February 1, 2016, the payment receipt form (IMM 5401) used to pay at a bank will no longer be available. Instead, all payments made within Canada must be paid online. We will continue to accept this form until March 31, 2016.

Learn more about how to pay your fees.

  • Obtain an original payment receipt form (IMM 5401). Order it online or contact the Call Centre.
  • Fill the form and bring it with you when you go to pay your fees.
  • Include the completed payment receipt form (IMM 5401) with your application.

For more detailed instructions, read the “Pay the Fees” section of the application guide.

3. Submit your application

The application package contains the mailing address where you must send your application.

Find out if you are eligible

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