International Students: Bring Your Loved Ones with You to Canada

CIC News
Published: October 30, 2013

Close to 100,000 international students from all over the world come to Canada each year to obtain a high-quality post-secondary education. Canada’s generous immigration policy allows the spouse and minor children of international students to accompany them to Canada to work and study. In this way, a student’s entire close family can benefit from a Canadian experience.

Spouse or Common-Law Partner

The spouse or common-law partner of an international student may apply for an open work permit. The student must be studying full-time at:

  • A public post-secondary institution; or
  • A private post-secondary institution that operates under the same rules and regulations as a public institution and receives half of its overall operations budget from government grants; or
  • A private institution authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees.

An open work permit allows the holder to work for any employer in Canada, and does not require a Labour Market Opinion or job offer. The work permit will usually have the same period of validity as the study permit. However, the open work permit may exclude certain occupations in which the protection of public health is essential, unless the applicant undergoes an immigration medical examination.

In this way, not only can the spouses or partners of international students gain valuable Canadian work experience, but also can help support their families financially.

Minor Children

Any person under the age of majority is considered to be a minor child. The age of majority varies by province. In Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan, the age of majority is 18, while in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut and Yukon it is 19.

Minor children who are already in Canada with at least one parent who is allowed to work or study in Canada do not require a study permit to attend school at the pre-school, primary, or secondary levels. However, once the child reaches the age of majority in their province, he or she must apply for a study permit to continue their studies in Canada.

The Application Process

An international student may bring his or her dependents to Canada by one of two routes.

One possible route is for the student and dependent family members to submit their visa applications concurrently. Another option is for the student to wait until he/she has received a study permit, and then submit applications for his or her accompanying dependents.

When applying for a study permit, information must be provided for all family members that will be accompanying the student to Canada. In order for their application to be approved, the student and his or her family will have to demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to support their stay in Canada. In addition, applicants may be required to undergo a medical examination and submit Police Clearance Certificates.

Depending on the applicants’ country of citizenship, a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) may be required in addition to any study or work permits. A full list of countries requiring a TRV to enter Canada can be found here.

A spouse or common-law partner who plans to work while in Canada has the option to apply for his or her Open Work Permit before entering the country, upon arrival to Canada, or after entering the country.

Oftentimes, minor children entering Canada may receive a visitor record, even if the child will be studying in Canada. This is because minor children in Canada may study at the pre-school, primary or secondary levels without needing to secure a study permit.

The Final Word

Canada’s commitment to family unification means that international students and their families have the opportunity to experience Canadian life together. Whether it is for a few months or for several years, international students will be comforted to know that their loved ones can be nearby as they pursue their dreams of obtaining a Canadian education.

“Canada is home to some of the most distinguished colleges and universities in the world,” said Attorney David Cohen. “Aside from putting money into the Canadian economy while studying, many international students remain in Canada after graduation and become valuable members of our workforce and general society. It is only natural that the Canadian Government has established generous laws that allow them to stay close to their families and feel welcome in their new home.”

To find out if you are eligible for a study permit, please fill out a free online assessment today.

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