international_students_with_families.pdf

International students with spouses or common - law partners, and children

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.

Children of international students

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 child(ren) to study at a Canadian school he/she must to apply for a study permit for his/her child(ren) 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” Refer to the IRCC web-site for more details.

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.

IMPORTANT: If the parent loses status (no longer a full time student) their children and spouse automatically lose their status. Children of international students at VIU who are attending college or university (19 or older) must have a Study Permit and pay international tuition fees.

As long as one parent holds valid status in Canada e.g. study/work permit, permanent resident or Canadian citizen, their children are permitted to study at the pre-school, primary or secondary school levels without paying international fees.

Application process for relatives to join international students in Canada

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 his accompanying immediate family from outside Canada at the same time as their study permit application.

Second option, VIU student applies for a Study Permit and provides full information about his/her immediate family who plan to join him/her at a later date.

Documents required:

  • Student proof of enrollment (you can request this letter at the front desk of Building 255)
  • A letter of invitation to the relative. More details about the letter of invitation are available online at IRCC website
  • Copy of valid Study Permit
  • Proof of a relationship to the international student such as a marriage certificate, statutory declaration of common-law union or a birth certificate (for their child(ren)) as appropriate.

In both cases the relative must be able to demonstrate sufficient available funds to support their living in Canada. The procedure of application for Temporary Resident Visa (Visa) and study permit application is slightly different for visa required countries. As of September 30th, 2016 students from visa exempt countries also need Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). It is important in either case to have a Visitor Record for the children if they plan to attend school in Canada.

Extending Immigration documents for immediate family

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.

Work Permit for Spouses

Yes, your spouse is eligible to work while you are studying full time. Before beginning work, he/she must apply for a spousal work permit. Only after approval, your spouse can apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN). Your spouse's work permit duration will be the same as your valid study permit. For more information, please visit IRCC web-site

Documents required:

  • Letter of enrollment: request it at the front desk of Building 255
  • Student's valid Study Permit
  • Spouse's passport
  • Marriage License or Certificate

Application for Work permit

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