Bringing a Spouse, Common-Law Partner, or Family Members to Canada
Are you thinking about inviting a spouse or common-law partner, or other members of your family, to join you in Canada?
Canada’s generous immigration policy allows certain family members of international students to come to Canada to work and/or study.
Definition of Family Member
For the purposes of this page, “family member” refers to a spouse, common-law/conjugal partner, and dependent children. Parents may also accompany you to Canada.
Citizens of some countries and territories require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) in order to enter Canada as visitors. A visa cannot be applied for at a Canadian Port of Entry, and in some cases, a medical examination may be required. This can add significant processing time to your application.
Citizens of certain countries do not need a TRV, but, as of November 10, 2016, most visa-exempt persons require an electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). The main exception is U.S. citizens, who require neither a TRV nor an eTA.
Work Permits for Spouses
Full-time students with a valid study permit can help their spouse or common-law partner apply for an open work permit. An open work permit will enable the spouse or common-law partner of the international student to work, and is usually valid for the entire length of the student’s study permit. To be eligible for this program, the student must be studying full-time, and have a valid study permit 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.
This open work permit allows its bearer to work for any employer in Canada, and does not require a job offer, or a Labour Market Impact Assessment. Bear in mind, this open work permit may exclude certain occupations (such as jobs in schools or hospitals) unless medical examination is provided.
Spousal Work Permit Timing and Application Procedure
Canadian visa offices overseas are generally able to process an application for a work permit at the same time as the study permit application. In such cases, in addition to the study permit processing fees, the applicant(s) must also include work permit processing fees.
Contrarily, the spouse or common-law partner may come to Canada as a visitor and then apply for a work permit after arrival. For citizens of countries that do not require a TRV, this work permit application may be done at a Canadian Port of Entry.
Minor Children and Canadian Study Permit Rules
If you or your spouse or common-law partner is already in Canada, your minor child may study without a study permit at the preschool, primary, or secondary level. Once the child reaches the age of majority in their province, however, he or she must apply for a study permit to continue his or her studies in Canada. This application can be completed from inside Canada. Please consult the table below for further information.
When applying from outside Canada, you will need to apply for your child’s study permit at a Canadian overseas visa office.
If you are planning to bring your family to Canada while you study, and you’ll be arriving at the same time, you may consider filling out one application for the entire family. If you have a variety of different permit applications (your study permit and your spouse or common-law partner’s work permit, for example) you will need extra documentation and will need to include additional fees (such as the additional fee for the work permit).
If you wish to extend or change your conditions while you are in Canada, you will need to complete a separate application. Make sure to check the date of expiry on your study permit and apply at least 30 days before that date if you would like to extend your stay.
Does a child need a study permit?
Children accompanying an adult who is in Canada on a work or study permit may study in Canada without a study permit at the pre-school, primary and secondary levels.