Can my spouse work while I study in Canada?

Student Spousal work permit – Canada.

When moving to Canada as an international student, one of the most common questions is how to bring spouse, dependent children and family to the country?

Since we are in Saint Valentine’s week, today we cover the esteemed Student Spousal Work Permit. The topic of bringing dependent children will be covered in future publications (follow us! and we will keep you posted).

When coming to Canada with a temporary residence as an international student, your spouse or common-law partner may be eligible to apply for an open work permit.  This is another reason why studying in Canada is so attractive for couples and families. With an open work permit, the spouse may contribute with the family economy, while the student is enrolled in a full-time program that meets the criteria of the CIC.

Being spousal doesn’t mean to be married, a common-law partner can apply as long as the applicant can prove the couple meets the criteria as per the definition of the Common law in Canada. If granted, the partner will benefit from a social Insurance number, being able to work in Canada, and even getting medical coverage while working.

This open work permit usually enables the partner to work when the student’s program has initiated, for the entire duration of the program.

Many international students who have come to Canada with Language Experience, have life partners who are working (or have worked) full-time in Canada with an open work permit. The family can start planning for the permanent residence at this point, as valid education and work experience in Canada are two of the main factors to consider in order to improve eligibility for the Express entry and most of the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). Emigrating as a couple could be the adventure of a lifetime.

“Emigrating as a couple could be the adventure of a lifetime”

Who can get a work permit as the spouse or common-law partner of a student?

The spouse or common-law partner may be eligible if the student has a valid study permit and, is a full-time student at one of these types of schools:

● a public post-secondary school, such as a college or university, or CEGEP in Quebec
● a private college-level school in Quebec
● a Canadian private school that can legally award degrees under provincial law (for example, Bachelors, Masters or Doctorate degree)

For more details, visit the “Spouse or Common-Law Partner” page of Immigration Canada website.

If you want to study in Canada, giving the opportunity of a work permit to your life partner, Language Experience can help you find the valid program that best suits your needs.  

Post-Graduation Work Permit PGWP: Everything you need to know.

Working in Canada after graduating.

What is a PGWP?

A PGWP is an open work permit, which allows you to work in Canada after completing a valid program at one of the designated learning institutions (DLI), and meeting the eligibility criteria according to the CIC.

Can you work in a province other than where the studies were done?

Yes. The PGWP is an open work permit, which means you can work in another province after graduating and it is valid throughout Canada. 

When is it possible to apply?

Up to 180 days after completion of the studies. 

How many times is it possible to apply for a PGWP?

Only once in a lifetime.  

What is the duration of a PGWP? 

It depends on the duration of the curriculum:

  • Programs from 8 months to 2 years: A PGWP of the same duration of the curriculum can be obtained.
  • Programs of 2 years or more: You can get a PGWP for up to 3 years.
  • More than 1 program: You can get a PGWP that combines the duration as long as both programs are eligible and last more than 8 months. 

What if my passport expires before the estimated duration of the PGWP?

You can get a PGWP that lasts to the fullness of your passport, and if a longer PGWP corresponds, it will be allowed to apply with a new passport for the remaining duration according to the CIC.  

The PGWP and the Express Entry

Having Canadian work experience can help to increase the score on the Express Entry system. Job positions with a NOC 0, A, or B are considered for the skilled workers stream in the Express Entry. In that case, you will add points for both, the studies and the Canadian work experience. Similarly, working in Canada may also help to receive an invitation from a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).

Language courses for immigration purposes in Canada

The use of standardised tests in Canadian immigration is now almost universal. Therefore, to apply under the Quebec Skilled Worker program for example:

Situation 1:

Monsieur Jean Dupont who has a doctorate in French philosophy from La Université de la Sorbonne de Paris will still need to pass a test recognized by the MIDI to get his French language points!

Situation 2:

Joseph Smith, holder of a Booker Prize for English Literature, will still need an IELTS or CELPIP test results to gain language points under Express Entry!

Today the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion (MIDI) of Québec accepts the results of the following tests in French:

· (TEFAQ) Test d’évaluation du français adapté pour le Québec of the Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Paris Île-de-France (CCIP-IDF);

· (TCF-Québec) Test de connaissance du français pour le Québec of the Centre international d’études pédagogiques (CIEP);

· (TEF) the Test d’évaluation du français of the CCIP-IDF;

· (TEF Canada) the Test d’évaluation du français pour le Canada of the CCIP-IDF;

· (TCF) the Test de connaissance du français of the CIEP;

· (DELF) the Diplôme d’études en langue française of the CIEP; and

· (DALF) the Diplôme approfondi de langue française of the CIEP.

For English, in addition to IELTS, CELPIP tests are accepted.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will only consider the results of two tests of French for the immigration program managed through the Express Entry system:

· Test d’évaluation du français (TEF) of the Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Paris Île-de-France; and

· Test d’évaluation du français pour le Canada (TEF Canada) of the CCIP-IDF.

Prepare yourself well and avoid gimmicks !

Some schools may promise that the success of some “internal” language course given by them might make it unnecessary to take one of the tests listed above.

This is a word of caution: Think of what lies behind this promise made to a certain “captive audience” of students in vocational programs. Can you expect the same quality of education when there is an exemption of standardized tests?

If you want to apply to Canadian immigration program, like the Programme de l’expérience québécoise (PEQ) or the Express Entry; you must take an international standardized test such as

IELTS, DELF or any other of the ones explained before, the home certificate proving the success of such a language program will not be acceptable under Express Entry for the precious 2nd language points!

For immigration purposes, I urge you to choose a school that will teach you the language well! And that will prepare you for the real, more universally recognized tests! And for life in Canada!


Membre R420255 du CRCIC

Consultant reconnu par le MIDI (no d’inscription 11479)

Membre de l’Association canadienne des conseillers professionnels en immigration (ACCPI)

Tél. : (001) 514-248-8994