Documentation for your family

Applying for your dependents to join you in Canada

It may be possible for your dependents to come live with you in Canada during your studies as a visitor, student, or worker.

Dependents include:

They can apply when you make your initial study permit application from outside Canada or apply separately to join you after you’ve arrived. Typically, their study permit, work permit, or visitor record will be issued for the same length as your study permit.

If their passport expires soon, they should extend it well in advance since documents cannot be issued beyond the expiry date of a passport.

Each family member, even infants, will have their own Canadian immigration document. It is important that each family member maintains valid status in Canada by either leaving Canada or applying to extend their stay before their status in Canada ends.

Common-law partners

Canadian immigration policy considers a common-law partner in the same manner as a legal spouse. Common-law partners are people of the same or opposite sex who have lived together continuously in a conjugal, marriage-like relationship for at least one year.

Be sure to attach proof of your common-law relationship as supporting documentation, along with a notarized Statutory Declaration of Common Law Union [IMM 5409] (pdf) form.

Travel documents for your family

Depending on their country of citizenship, each family member may need to apply for a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV, or “entry visa”) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) which allows them to travel to Canada. US citizens and permanent residents are exempt. TRVs and eTAs are travel documents only and do not provide status in Canada.

If your family members apply for a study permit or work permit from outside of Canada, the TRV or eTA is provided automatically. Find out if your family needs a TRV or eTA.

Learn about how to apply for their TRV if required.

Status in Canada

Depending on your dependents’ situation, they could come to Canada as a visitor, student, or worker.

Visitor status

Visitor documents may include any of the following:

  • A stamp in the passport (rare) 
  • A printed document called a Visitor Record

Whether or not a passport is stamped, visitors can remain in Canada for six months from the date of entry. However, if the officer writes a date under the stamp or issues a Visitor Record, the visitor must leave or extend their stay before the date provided.

Unless your dependents are coming for a short visit, they should request a Visitor Record upon entry to Canada with an expiry date that matches your study permit.

If your dependents enter Canada with you, they will typically be issued Visitor Records for the same length as your study permit.

If your dependents enter Canada without you, they may be admitted as visitors for up to six months. To improve the likelihood that their visitor record is issued for the same length as your study permit, send them copies of your study permit, Temporary Resident Visa (if you have one), passport and a current UBC letter of enrollment indicating the expected completion date of your studies (from the Student Service Centre or your advising or graduate program staff) for them to present to the Officer on arrival. 

Visitors admitted for six months or less are not eligible for the BC Medical Services Plan, BC's provincial health insurance plan. If your family plans to stay longer than six months, you should apply to extend their stay as soon as possible and before their visitor status expires.

Study permits for your children

A child under the age of 19 in British Columbia is considered a minor child. Minor children applying from outside Canada to accompany a parent who will work or study in Canada for 6 months or longer must apply for a study permit. They do not need to provide a letter of acceptance from an educational institution.

Minor children already in Canada can study without a study permit at the pre-school, primary, or secondary level if at least one parent is authorized to work or study in Canada. In general, having a study permit rather than a visitor record can make the immigration process run more smoothly for accompanying minor children.

You should also bring the following documents for your children:

  • 2 years of your child's official school records, in English or with a certified English translation
  • Your child's immunization records since birth
  • Your child's original birth certificate

Read more information on what a minor child needs to study in Canada if they’re not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

Children usually start elementary school in the year they turn 5 years old. If your child is not yet school aged, they do not require a study permit and should apply for a Temporary Resident Visa or electronic travel authorization, if required. You should request a Visitor Record for them when entering Canada. 

If your child is 19 or older, they will need to apply for their study permit independently. If they meet the definition of a dependent child, you can submit their Visitor Record application together with your study/work permit application.

Work permit for your spouse or partner

A spouse/partner work permit is an open work permit which allows your spouse or common-law partner to work full-time while you study. Your spouse or partner does not need a job offer to apply for the work permit.

If you're an international student studying full-time with a valid study permit in a program which is eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit, your spouse or common-law partner can apply for a spouse/partner work permit.

If you've finished studies and are applying for the Post-Graduation Work Permit, there are additional requirements you must meet for your spouse or partner to be eligible for a work permit.

The spouse/partner work permit will usually be issued for the same length of time as your study or work permit.

There are a few options for your spouse or partner to apply for a work permit. Contact International Student Advising to discuss your spouse or partner's circumstances and options to apply for a TRV or work permit.

From outside Canada

They can apply at the same time you apply for your initial study permit, or separately after you’ve arrived in Canada with a copy of your study permit or PGWP.

Review the spouse/partner work permit tutorial for inside Canada applications, then review the IRCC work permit outside of Canada guide since the application will be slightly different. Be sure to include any additional documents required by the visa office in the "Client Information" section—select your country under the "apply on paper" section then see the visa office instructions PDF.

It is important to provide an explanation and supporting documents to satisfy the officer that they have ties to their home country and will leave Canada bythe end of their authorized stay. Find other helpful tips, such as how to prepare a letter of explanation, in our initial study permit tutorial required documents page.

Upon arrival in Canada: for Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) holders and US citizens and permanent residents only

They can apply for a work permit at the airport or border crossing when entering Canada if they are TRV-exempt and have an eTA or are a US citizen or permanent resident. They will need to bring all printed documents and forms with them following the ‘from outside Canada’ section above. Visa office specific documents are not required. If the officer approves the application, the work permit will be issued immediately.

After they arrive in Canada

They can apply from inside Canada if they have valid visitor or student status. They can apply separately with a copy of your study permit or PGWP or at the same time you apply for a study permit extension or PGWP.

If they are from a country which requires a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), they will need a valid TRV to travel to Canada.

It could also be possible to apply at the US border after entering Canada (“flagpoling”); however there are risks involved. Contact International Student Advising for support.

Apply now

Health insurance for your dependents

You will need to purchase private temporary health insurance for at least their first 3 months in Canada, such as iMED, then apply for the Medical Services Plan once they’ve arrived in British Columbia, if eligible. You might also be eligible to enroll your dependents in the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan. For iMED and AMS/GSS Health and Dental, check the dates by which you can add dependents. 

Learn about health insurance for international students.

Extending documents for dependents

When you extend your documents, you will likely need to extend each dependent’s status in Canada as well. You can extend their stay at the same time you extend your study permit or apply for the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).

Be sure to extend the documents for each individual (even infants) before their status in Canada expires. Applications must be submitted before 11:59 pm UTC (not local time) on the date their status expires to remain in Canada under maintained status

Follow the links for more information on how to:

Visitors are not eligible to apply for a TRV in Canada, and will need to apply through the visa office serving their country of citizenship. Contact International Student Advising for support.

Inviting your family to visit you in Canada

If a family member such as a parent requires a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) and wants to come visit you in Canada temporarily—for example, to attend your graduation ceremony—you can provide documents to help them with their TRV application.

If they need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), they could consider bringing additional documents as well.

Read the guide

Additional resources

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

International Student Advising is ready to support you on questions related to immigration, health insurance, and life as an international student in Canada.

Connect with an advisor