If you want to come to study in Canada with your family, this is for you.
I regularly get questions from people asking whether Canada allows international students to come with their families (spouses and children), and the answer is YES! This is also applicable to ALL levels of study (whether it is BSc., Diploma, Post Graduate Diploma, Masters, or Ph.D).
In addition to this, these are a few things to note to do this successfully.
When you are applying for admission to schools, you are only applying for yourself alone, but you can include your accompanying family members when applying for your study visa.
Your visa application is then determined by 3 things
- Purpose of study
- Proof of funds
- Home ties
The 3 things are the expectations for single applicants as well, but if applying as a family, you have a stronger expectation to fulfill. You will need to justify the importance of having family members with you, show additional funds for them, and have other ties to your country.
Purpose of study:
In your study plan/letter of explanation, explain why your spouse and children should accompany you to Canada. Your children can apply for a visitor/study permit (depending on age), and your spouse, a visitor/work permit (depending on what they intend to do in Canada).
If your spouse comes to Canada with a visitor visa, they can also apply for a work permit from inside Canada or apply for one at a Border Crossing, through flagpoling.
The study plan helps you to justify the purpose of your study and the importance of having your family with you. It could be anything from the fact that your children are young, or your family has never been apart before. Family unification is important to Canada, so leverage this.
NB: If you are a student going to a school/program that is not eligible for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP), your spouse is not eligible for the spousal open work permit (SOWP). This is one of the important reasons to ensure the program you apply for is eligible for PGWP.
Proof of funds (POF):
If you intend to apply with your family, you will pay extra application fees and also show more POF than a single applicant.
You must also show that you have sufficient funds to support yourself and the family members accompanying you without working in Canada.
You are expected to show enough to cover your tuition and living expenses as the student; and the additional funds for the living expenses of those accompanying you. Details are available here.
In summary, the total funds you need will depend on your own family number.
Proof of home ties is an important aspect of the Canadian study visa application. As an international student, you are a temporary resident and need to show that you are willing to leave Canada after your study (if required to do so). IRCC wants to see evidence of this.
Many international students find it easier to use their family members as part of their home ties. So, if you’re applying with your family, it means you must be ready to show other ties. It could be your business, investments, employment, financial assets, landed properties, etc.
Once you present your application well and provide the required documents in the 3 areas of consideration, your application is good to go.
After assessing the documents you have, you can make the personal decision to either apply together with family members or apply alone first.
And if you decide to apply alone, there is no specified timeline to apply for your family members after you arrive in Canada.
You can submit their applications anytime you have the required documents to apply for them.
Which Visa Type should you apply for Family Members?
- If your children are already of school age (about 5 years and above in many provinces), you should apply for a study permit for them.
- If the children are not up to 5 years or will be 5 by the time you resume, then you can apply for a visitor visa for them.
- And for your spouse, you can apply for a Spousal Open Work Permit (if the plan is for them to stay back and work in Canada). Or a Visitor Visa if they just want to accompany you and visit regularly.
Please note that for your spouse to be able to apply for a Spousal Open Work Permit, you, the international student must be coming to Canada for a program that is eligible for a Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP).
To know if your school is eligible for PGWP, check here.
And if you are not sure if your own program is eligible for PGWP in the school, ask your school directly to confirm. Because it is possible for a school to be generally eligible for PGWP, and have some programs that are not eligible.
For more resources and information to apply as a student, check all our compiled resources here.
All information you need to apply for admission, scholarships, and a visa in Canada can be found in the compiled resources. It’s a Do It Yourself (DIY) community.
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