As of March 19, 2024, only spouses or common-law partners of international students enrolled in master's degree, doctoral degree or selective professional degree programs are eligible to apply for an open work permit under Labour Market Impact Assessment Exemption C42. 

If your spouse or common-law partner and/or any dependent children would like to accompany you to Canada, they are advised to apply for their immigration documents at the same time that you apply for your study permit.

Spouse or common-law partner work permit

As of March 19, 2024, accompanying spouses or common-law partners of some full-time international students may be eligible for an open work permit, which means they do not need a job offer or a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Service Canada.

Your spouse or common-law partner may be eligible for a work permit if you hold a valid study permit and you meet one of the conditions:

  • you are a full-time student studying in a master's or doctoral degree program; or
  • you are studying in one of the following professional degree programs at a university:
    • Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS, DMD)
    • Bachelor of Law or Juris Doctor (LLB, JD, BCL)
    • Doctor of Medicine (MD)
    • Doctor of Optometry (OD)
    • Pharmacy (PharmD, BS, BSc, BPharm)
    • Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)
    • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN, BSN, BNSc)
    • Bachelor of Education (BEd)
    • Bachelor of Engineering (BEng, BE, BASc)

Note that graduate certificates and diplomas are not master's degree programs and will not be eligible for this. Spouses or common-law partners of international students in other levels of study, including undergraduate and college programs  is not eligible for an open work permit unless they already hold one under this stream and are seeking to extend their existing work permits.

Visit the IRCC website for full details of the open work permit eligibilty criteria. 

If you meet the above requirements, your spouse or common-law partner may submit an application for an open work permit together with your study permit application. They may apply without having a job offer or a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Service Canada. Alternatively, if you are already in Canada as a student and your spouse now wishes to join you here, they may apply for a work permit before travelling to Canada. 

US citizens and other temporary resident visa (TRV) exempt individuals are eligible to apply for a work permit upon entering Canada at the border or through a Canadian visa offices abroad. Please contact an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist if you have questions about how to apply.

If your spouse or common-law partner has already entered Canada as a visitor, they may apply for an open work permit online from inside Canada, providing all the eligibility criteria are met. Please refer to Extend your family members' documents

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada defines common-law partners as people of the same or opposite sex who are cohabitating and have cohabitated in a conjugal relationship for at least one year. In Canada, a common-law partner is regarded in the same manner as a legal spouse. Visit the IRCC website for more information.

Permits for dependent children

  • Your school-aged children (5-18 years of age) should also apply for study permits. These make the immigration process run more smoothly, especially if your child enters Canada without a parent. You should bring two years of official school records for your children, in English or with a certified English translation. Children under 5 will just require a visitor record.
  • For information on schooling and childcare for your dependent children, please see Support for your family.

Documents Required

If your dependent family will be joining you later, they will require some or all of the following documents from you as part of their application for temporary residence in Canada (in addition to their own supporting documents, as specified by the responsible visa office):

Make sure to keep copies of all the documents your family member submits with their application.

Length of Stay

If your family members enter Canada without you and they have not applied for a study permit or work permit, they may be admitted on visitor status for six months or less.  As per the IRCC website, visitors in Canada are permitted to stay for up to 6 months.  The officer at the border will determine the approved length of stay.  

If your family members travelling to Canada after you have travelled, we recommend that you send them copies of the documents listed above for them to present at the Canadian border crossing.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) no longer stamps all passports at airports with Primary Inspection Kiosks or eGates.  This includes Vancouver International Airport/YVR.  If you and/or your family member(s) need a stamp in your passport as proof of entry into Canada, request a stamp from a border services officer after completing the kiosk or the eGate transaction.

Visitors admitted for six months or less are not eligible for BC’s Medical Services Plan (MSP), so they should apply right away to extend or change their immigration document.