Bringing a Spouse, Common-Law Partner, or Family Members to Canada

Thinking about inviting a spouse or common-law partner, or other members of your family, to join you in Canada?

If you’re bringing your family to Canada – or want to invite your family/friends to visit you – make sure they have the immigration documentation they need. Canada’s immigration policy allows family members of international students to come to Canada to work and/or study.

Definition of Family Member

For International Students, “family member” refers to a spouse, common-law/conjugal partner, and dependent children. Parents may also accompany you to Canada.

Documents for your family

It may be possible for your family members to come live with you in Canada during 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 MSP (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 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 ensure 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).

Extending documents for family members

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

Visitor documents may include a stamp in the passport or a printed document called a visitor record. An updated Customs stamp normally authorizes the visitor to remain in Canada for six months. Your family members should make sure their passports get stamped during the border crossing.

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, available from the website of the consulate.

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.


Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)

Helpful IRCC websites