Information for Students with Family

International Students studying full time at VIU may be able to bring their spouses and children to Canada. A Spouse may be eligible for an open work permit and children under the age of majority (19 years old in BC) may attend pre-school, elementary or high school without paying international fees. Spouses of international students enrolled full time at VIU may apply for an open work permit, however, issuance of the permit is at the discretion of the Immigration Officer. There is no guarantee that an applicant will be granted permission to come to or to work in Canada. If the spouse of a student is granted an open work permit, they can work for any Employer anywhere in Canada. Also, an open work permit may restrict the holder from work in certain occupations where public health protection is essential. Such jobs (e.g. daycare, schools, elder care, and food sector) may require that the applicant go through a medical examination with an IRCC appointed Panel Physician.

Here is a useful article with tips and advice: Five survival strategies for spouses and partners of international students

Immigration: Children under the age of 19 are considered to be minors in British Columbia. A minor children of the student who is already in Canada and “accompanying a parent who is permitted to study or work”, may study in Canada without a study permit at the pre-school, primary and secondary levels.

If an international student is intending to bring his/her school age children to study at a Canadian school he/she must apply for a study permit for his/her children before entering Canada. “Minor children who are accompanying a family member who has applied and been approved for a work or study permit before entering Canada do not need to provide a letter of acceptance from an educational institution” Learn more about Studying in Canada as a minor.

If a student is already in Canada with his/her minor children (dependents) who are on visitor record or visa (stamp in their passport), the children does not require a study permit for the pre-school, primary or secondary level.

Children tuition fee: As long as one parent holds valid status in Canada e.g. study/work permit, permanent resident or Canadian citizen, enrolled into post-secondary program (NOT ESL) of two years or more, their children are permitted to study at the pre-school, primary or secondary school levels without paying international fees. 

Important: Children of post-secondary students enrolled in ESL programs are not eligible to attend public school free of charge. They are welcome to attend as fee-paying students.

If the parent loses status (no longer a full time student) their children and spouse automatically lose their status.

Children transitioning from secondary to university education at VIU must have a Study Permit and pay international tuition fees.

Please visit the following link to learn more about Nanaimo Ladysmith public schools. Use the following link to begin the registration process. 

There are two options for submitting an application to invite immediate family (immediate, meaning spouse and children of principal applicant).

First option: The student accepted by VIU submits the application for their accompanying immediate family from outside Canada at the same time as their study permit application.

Second option: A VIU student applies for a Study Permit and provides full information about their immediate family who plan to join them at a later date.

Please note: children under the age of 19 are considered to be minors in British Columbia. Any minor children of the student who is already in Canada and “accompanying a parent who is permitted to study or work,” may study in Canada without a study permit at the pre-school, primary and secondary levels.

To extend your spouse and/or children's status documents such as visas, visitor records or open spousal work permits, apply at least 2-3 months before these documents expire. Visitor visas could appear as a stamp in your child's or spouse's passport with or without a date (without a date by default is considered a six-month visa) for those who are coming from visa exempt countries. In addition, visitors must apply for an eTA before traveling to Canada. For their children student should ask for a visitor record at Port of Entry (airport, land, marine) to confirm that they have been granted entry for longer than six months.

The Principal Applicant (student) from visa required countries will have a sticker in their passport provided by the Canadian Visa Office abroad and a letter of approval for their Study Permit. A Study Permit will be issued at the port of entry (airport, land, marine) and if their family is with them, they will be issued a Visitor Record. Please note, the duration of your family's stay will be determined by an Immigration Officer.

As of March 19, 2024 spouse or common law partner of only graduate (master level) students are eligible for spousal work permit. Current holder of spousal work permit is eligible to extend their spousal work permit.

Before beginning any type of work, they (the spouse) must apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN). The spouse's work permit duration will be the same as the student’s valid study permit.

Documents required:

  • Student's letter of acceptance
  • Student to request "proof of enrollment" by completing this Letter of enrollment form
  • Student's Official transcript
  • Student's valid Study Permit
  • Spouse's passport
  • Marriage License or Certificate

It can be difficult to find a spot in a childcare service facility, we recommend to apply as early as possible.