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.
It is easier for family members of international students to apply for an accompanying Temporary Resident Visa. In particular, the government requires students under the age of 17 to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian or to have a designated custodian in Canada. The parents’ Visa can be applied for together with the child’s Student Visa.
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.
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.
Conversely, 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. In some cases, citizens of visa-required countries may also contemplate a Port of Entry application.
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.