Information for international students with family

Activities for Spouses and Partners

Here are some ways to get involved in community events and activities that make the transition to life in Vancouver more enjoyable:

  • Sign up for English classes. View the “English As An Additional Language (EAL) Resources” handout.
  • Enroll in a course through UBC Continuing Studies.
  • Take advantage of athletics and recreation programs and facilities on campus. Most are open to the public for an additional cost.
  • Attend activities at your local community centre or neighbourhood house.
  • If you live in student residence on campus, get involved in Residence Life activities.
  • Consider volunteering (informally) or apply for a spouse/partner work permit to work or volunteer (formally) either on or off campus.
  • Attend UBC events.

Association of Neighbourhood Houses of BC

British Columbia's non-profit organization The Association of Neighbourhood Houses offers the following community services at various Neighbourhood Houses located throughout BC, such as:

  • Community:
    Low income tax clinics, monthly community potlucks, Neighbourhood Small Grants, Volunteer training and volunteer opportunities, computer tutorials, Pocket Market, Westside Food Collaborative, Steeves Manor Resource Room, information and referrals
  • Childcare:
    Bumbletree Childcare, Kits and Dunbar Kids Club (Out of School Care)
  • Youth:
    Youth Leadership, Citizen U, Westside Youth Plan Alliance, Expressive Art for Newcomer Preteens
  • Families:
    Parent and Tot Drop-in, Mama & Papa Goose, Nobody’s Perfect parenting program, My Tween & Me, Food Skills for Families, Family Camp, Neighbourhood Connections
  • Seniors:
    Affordable housing for seniors and individuals with spinal cord injuries, Seniors Resource Centre, Seniors Links, Seniors Peer Counselling, Seniors Drop-in, Osteofit, Seniors Outreach, Intergenerational Knitting Circles
  • Newcomers:
    English Conversation Circles, Multicultural Women’s Support Program, Westside Newcomers Hub

The Neighbourhood House closest to UBC is Kitsilano Neighbourhood House at 3683 West 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC, V6R 4N6 (Temporary Office Location during Redevelopment). You can call the organization at 604-736-3588 or email

Community Recreation Centres

Vaccinations (also known as Immunizations)

Vaccinations protect people of all ages from harmful bacteria and viruses. Doctors, pharmacists and nurses provide vaccinations at local public and private health facilities. 

Be sure to keep complete records of immunizations for you and your family. A child's immunization record is usually requested when he or she is registered to enter day care, preschool, kindergarten, school and certain programs in post-secondary institutions.

This schedule, listing vaccines provided free to residents of BC, can help you determine when you or your family needs to be immunized. If you have any questions about immunizations, speak with your health care provider.

The closest Child Health Clinic to UBC is the Pacific Spirit Community Health Centre. You can bring your baby for immunizations and general check-ups. Contact the Health Centre directly for more information.

Resources for parents

Caring for children far from extended family support systems can be an isolating experience. There are a number of ways to reach out and receive support as a parent:

  • Attend a class or activity at a community centre or organization with your child and other parents.
  • Attend a parenting support group provided by a community organization.
  • Connect with other parents in your area by posting notes on community bulletin boards or through online sites like Craigslist. You can also meet other parents through activities you enjoy (such as a hiking or a book club). You can try “Meetup” groups. When meeting strangers from the internet, be sure to meet in public places (at least initially) and consider your safety. 

Single parents can access programs and resources through organizations such as the YWCA or consider becoming involved with a group such as Single Parents On Campus (SPOC). SPOC raises awareness about experiences of single parents attending UBC and facilitates lobbying efforts both on campus and within the Metro Vancouver community.

Find out more about programs, resources and initiatives that are available to students who are parents.

Applying for documents together as a family

For many IRCC forms, there is an option of filling out only one application for the entire family. For example, accompanying spouses or common-law partners of study permit holders can often apply for open-work permits that last as long as the study permits of their student partners, if the student is studying full-time at the time of application. 

When the study permit holder extends their study permit using the online MyCIC system, applications for new, or extension of, documents of accompanying spouses and all dependents can be made at the same time. There will be a fee for each document requested. For more information, visit the IRCC website

Child care on campus

UBC Child Care Services offers professional, on-campus child care for infants to school-age children. Due to the high demand, it is encouraged that you apply before you arrive in Vancouver. For children under the age of 5, the wait time is 6 to 12 months, and possibly 2 or more years for children under 3 years old. The child's age and time of year greatly affect the waiting time. You can find more information on waiting times, the type of programs offered, and how to apply. You can also call 604-822-5343 for more information.

The Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre provides information, referrals, training and resources to families who are seeking the best care and early learning for children. They maintain a comprehensive list of all registered child care facilities in Metro Vancouver and also offer an online guide for choosing child care as well as resources and help in many languages. You can call them at 604-709-5661

More information about child care and other services is also available at:

Enrolling children in school

In Canada, the school year runs from September to June. There is a 2-week break in December and a 2-week break in March. Children can enter kindergarten as young as age 5. The Vancouver School Board operates the public elementary and secondary schools in Vancouver. These schools offer elective programs in business, visual and graphic arts, choir, orchestra, physical education, drama, and languages. For more information, visit the Vancouver School Board website. 

Many schools offer English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for their students as part of the regular curriculum. For information about these programs, contact the Immigrant Services Society of BC at 604-684-2561

If your study permit is valid for at least one year and you are enrolled at a publicly funded institution such as UBC, your minor children (18 years of age and younger) are eligible to attend elementary and secondary school as if they were Canadian residents. They will not be required to pay international student fees. You should begin the enrolment process for your children as early as possible after your arrival in Vancouver. You will need the following to enroll your child in school:

  • Passport
  • Passport stamp or visitor record indicating the day your child entered Canada
  • Copies of the parents’ study or work permits 

The following documents should be translated into English (if necessary):

  • Immunization documents
  • Birth certificate
  • Copies of school report cards, grades, and evaluations from the past two years 

For more information, visit the Vancouver School Board website or the IRCC website.

International Student Guide

Find everything you need to know about life as an international student at UBC's Vancouver campus.

View the guide

If you have questions

You can connect with International Student Advising for questions related to immigration, health insurance, and life as an international student in Canada.

Additional resources