Documentation for your family

If you're bringing your family to Canada - or want to invite your family/friends to visit you - make sure they have the immigration documentations they need.

Documents for your family

It may be possible for your family members to come live with you in Canada for the duration of your studies. In most cases, “family” includes spouses, common-law/conjugal partners, and dependent children. If your family members enter Canada without you, they may be admitted on visitor status for up to six months.  Family members most often apply to come initially as visitors. They may need to pass a medical examination in advance.

Visitors admitted for six months or less are not eligible for the BC Medical Services Plan (BC’s provincial health insurance plan). Therefore, if they plan to stay longer than six months, you should apply to extend their stay as soon as possible.

Visas for family members

Depending on their country of citizenship, they may need to apply either for a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV, or “entry visa”) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) that allows them to travel to Canada. If they apply for a study permit or work permit from outside of Canada, the TRV or eTA is issued automatically. If your family members will accompany you to Canada, they can either apply at the same time as you or join you after you have arrived.

To improve the probability that your family members travelling without you are admitted to Canada as visitors for the length of your study permit, be sure to send them copies of your study permit, Temporary Resident Visa (if you have one) and passport for them to present to the authorities at the Canadian port of entry (airport or border crossing).

Study permits for children

  • Minor children (under the age of 19 in British Columbia) 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.

  • Minor children applying from outside Canada to accompany a parent for work or study in Canada for 6 months or longer must apply for a study permit. In general, having a study permit (rather than a visitor record) can make the immigration process run more smoothly for accompanying minor children.

  • Note that 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

  • You should bring two years of official school records for your children, in English or with a certified English translation. You may also need immunization records since birth and their original birth certificate.

Please see Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada's guidelines on minor children for more information.

Extending documents for family members

When extending documents, each dependent (including children) requires their own valid document to stay in Canada. Extend their documents before the expiry date and pay the appropriate fee for each person.

Visitor documents may include a verbal confirmation from an officer of how long their status is in Canada, a stamp in the passport (very rare), or a printed document called a visitor record. An Canada Border Services Agency stamp allows the visitor to remain in Canada for six months from the date of entry; the same is true if there are no stamps. If the officer writes a date under the stamp or issues a visitor record, they must leave or extend their stay by the date provided.

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 assist them with their TRV application. If they do not need to apply for a visa, they should bring these documents to present at the border, if asked. Read more about inviting friends and family to visit.

Work permit for your spouse or partner

When should you apply?

Your spouse/partner can apply for a work permit before or after they arrive in Canada. The work permit will usually be issued for the same length of time as your study permit. Your spouse/partner does not need a job offer to apply for a work permit.

In some cases, Canadian visa offices abroad will process spouse/partner work permit applications at the same time as study permit applications. In this case, you will need to include the additional fee for the work permit and complete the work permit application for your spouse/partner.

Most spouse/partners come to Canada as visitors first and apply for a work permit after they are in Canada. If your spouse or partner does not require a TRV, they may be able to apply for a work permit at the border or airport where they enter Canada.

How to apply for a Spousal Work Permit

Definition of common-law partnership

Canadian immigration policy regards an international student’s common-law partner in the same manner as a legal spouse. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) defines common-law partners as people of the same or opposite sex who currently live together and have lived together in a conjugal, marriage-like relationship of at least one year. If you intend to demonstrate common-law status in the future, it is advisable to establish legal ties early (such as joint leases, joint bank accounts). 

You can apply to have your relationship recognized as a common-law union by completing the Statutory Declaration of Common Law Union [IMM5409], attaching supporting documents, and submitting it with an application to IRCC or a Consulate of Canada for a visitor record or work permit for your partner.

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International Student Guide

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