Spouses and common-law partners of study permit holders – [R205(c)(ii) – C42]– Canadian interest – International Mobility Program

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

In these instructions, “officer” refers to employees of both Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency.

The instructions on this page should be reviewed in conjunction with

The Minister designated the following categories of work for genuine spouses or common law partners of principal foreign nationals who hold valid study permits and are enrolled full time in post-graduation work permit eligible studies, as necessary for public policy reasons related to the competitiveness of Canada’s academic institutions, or economy, under subparagraph 205(c)(ii) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR).

This International Mobility Program (IMP) work permit category is intended for spouses who are not, themselves, already study permit holders actively engaged in full time studies. The reasons for allowing spouses to enter Canada and work is to increase the competitiveness of Canada’s academic institutions or economy in post graduation work permit-eligible study programs and institutions.

In these instructions, “spousal” refers to either common-law partner or married spouse situations.

Important: Only spousal work has been designated by the Minister. Dependent children are not eligible for open work permits under administrative code C42.

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To be a dependent spouse or common-law partner, the applicant for an open work permit must be in a genuine relationship with a principal foreign national. For the applicant to be eligible under administrative code C42, the principal foreign national must meet all of the following:

Important: For clarity, only spouses or common law partners of study permit holders studying at PGWP-eligible institutions and in PGWP-eligible programs are eligible for an open work permit. Their dependent children are not eligible to apply for an open work permit.

Family members of study permit holders studying at non PGWP-eligible institutions or in non PGWP-eligible programs are not eligible for an open work permit under this category.

Documentary evidence

With the application for a spousal open work permit, officers should be satisfied that they have the following documentary evidence to make an assessment:

If the principal foreign national is enrolled in a private post-secondary program/institution other than those listed above, the spouse or common-law partner is not eligible for a spousal open work permit.

Officers should be satisfied that the principal foreign national continues to comply with the study permit conditions. Should officers have any concerns, they may wish to request additional information from the applicant to ensure eligibility requirements of the administrative code C42 are met, or they may wish to undertake an assessment to ensure the bona fides of the material documents provided in the spousal open work permit application.

Application assessment

Officers must be satisfied that all eligibility requirements are met at the time of decision on the family member work permit application.

Mandatory association to the principal foreign national: The family member must be associated with the principal foreign national in GCMS. Association should be completed on the Client screen and not just within the application.

This is required to ensure the ability to revoke a family member work permit under public policy considerations.

If officers have any concerns as to the genuineness of documents provided, they may wish to undertake an assessment to ensure this material information is genuine and does not reflect a direct misrepresentation of facts in order to appear eligible for the permit.

Principal foreign nationals

The principal foreign national is the first foreign national of the couple who obtained a study or work permit or was deemed authorized to work under the provisions of section R186 other than under paragraphs R186(v or w).

In assessing eligibility for a spousal open work permit, the principal foreign national continues to remain the principal in the couple.

The principal foreign national cannot obtain a spousal open work permit under the C41, C42, C47 or C49 administrative codes based on the dependent spouse’s spousal open work permit and TEER category.

For example, if the principal foreign national is a study permit holder and the dependent spouse obtains an open work permit under LMIA exemption code C42 for spouses of study permit holders, the study permit holder cannot quit schooling and obtain a work permit in the C41 spousal category on the basis of their spouse’s C42 open work permit and employment.

Genuine relationship

As per section R4, a foreign national shall not be considered a spouse or a common-law partner of a person if the marriage or common-law partnership

If officers have concerns as to the genuineness of the relationship, they may request further documentation or information to confirm that the relationship between the dependent spouse or common-law partner and the principal foreign national is genuine and is not a relationship of convenience.

Final decision


The work permit will be issued under the authority of R205(c)(ii).

In the Global Case Management System (GCMS) under the Application screen, officers should enter the information below in the specified fields

Field Selection or input
Case Type 20
Province of destination


Exemption code

Spouse of full-time student: C42



Intended Occupation Open



The open work permit may be issued for a period that ends no later than the validity of the principal foreign national’s study permit or the applicant’s passport expiry, whichever comes first.

If the principal foreign national is authorized to study without a permit under section R189 at the time the spouse’s work permit application is submitted, the spousal application should be placed on hold until the principal foreign national’s study permit extension application is assessed.


Officers should ensure that instructions provided in Medical conditions to be imposed for open employer but occupation-restricted work permits are followed.

User Remarks


The following remark must be added to all open work permits

Authorized to work as per applicable labour laws.


$155 work permit processing fee

$100 open work permit holder fee


Work permit applicants are required to provide biometric information and pay the biometric fee – $85

The regular biometric exemptions apply (for example, under 14 or 1 in 10 rule).


If an officer is not satisfied that all the requirements of R200, including the assessment under R205(c)(ii are met, they must record their reasons and outline the rationale underlying the decision as well as the facts and elements considered. They must also provide an explanation for the decision in a case note.

Refusal reasons should clearly indicate which criteria or what requirement of R200 was not met and explain how the conclusion was reached. For assistance, officers can follow the steps in Decision making: Standard of review and process for making a reasonable decision.

Previous updates

January 30, 2023

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