Bring your family to Canada while you Study

DID YOU KNOW: As an international student in Canada, you may be able to bring your spouse/common-law partner and dependent children with you to Canada?  

This means that while you are studying in Canada, your spouse will be eligible for an open work permit. An open work permit does not require a Labour Marker Opinion and allows the holder to work in any occupation they wish, for as long as the visa is valid. Furthermore, given Immigration Canada’s strong stance on family unification, your dependent children can also accompany you and they will be able to attend Canada’s world-class public schools without the need for a student visa themselves.  

Staying Permanently

For many people who are not eligible for a Canadian Permanent Residence or a Canadian Work Permit, studying in Canada can be a great opportunity to gain valuable Canadian experience which will open up a lot of doors that eventually lead to Canadian Citizenship. Programs like the Canadian Experience Class and many Provincial Nomination Programs make Canadian experience a mandatory requirement. So while you study in Canada, your spouse could be actively working in Canada and gaining experience towards an application for Canadian Permanent Residence. Working in Canada can also help make sure that your application is strategically timed to ensure that you and your family have continuous status in Canada until you are officially Canadians.

It should be mentioned that the privileges extended to international students in Canada are also usually granted to applicants who are in Canada on temporary work permits, but it will depend on the nature of your work permit.

Documents for your family

It may be possible for your family members to come live with you in Canada during the duration of your studies. In most cases, “family” includes spouses, common-law/conjugal partners, and dependent children. If your family members enter Canada without you, they may be admitted on visitor status for up to six months. Family members most often apply to come initially as visitors. They may need to pass a medical examination in advance.

paper waiting for signature

Visas for family members

Depending on their country of citizenship, they may need to apply either for a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV, or “entry visa”) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) that allows them to travel to Canada. If your family members will accompany you to Canada, they can either apply at the same time as you or join you after you have arrived.

To ensure that your family members traveling without you are admitted to Canada as visitors for the length of your study permit, be sure to send them copies of your study permit, Temporary Resident Visa (if you have one), and passport for them to present to the authorities at the Canadian port of entry (airport or border crossing). 

Most spouses/partners come to Canada as visitors first and apply for a work permit after they are in Canada.