i This website contains general information and resources related to policies, procedures, and application processes for international students. For the latest updates and specific information on COVID-19 including impacts on immigration applications (e.g. study permits, work permits, visas), travel restrictions, work eligibility, and medical insurance, please refer to our FAQ page:

COVID-19 FAQ for International Students

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 a work permit, study permit, or visitor visa at the same time that you apply for your study permit.

Spouse or common-law partner work permit

Accompanying spouses or common-law partners of 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:

Full details of the open work permit eligibilty criteria for spouses and common-law partners of international students in Canada can be found on the IRCC website.

Your spouse or common-law partner may submit an application for an open work permit together with your study permit application.  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 exempt individuals are eligible to apply for a work permit upon entering Canada at the border or through a Canadian Consulate. 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 and now wishes to extend their stay in Canada and/or apply for a work permit, please refer to Extend your family members' documents

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 eligibility criteria are met.  For details of the application process and documents required, please review our "Work Permits for Spouses/Common-Law Partners" available on our website.

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 visa post):

  • Required application forms, available here
  • Your SFU admission letter or Confirmation of Enrollment letter plus your official SFU transcript (if you have begun your studies)
  • An invitation letter from you
  • Proof of funds: This could include letter(s) from a bank, employer, scholarship provider, or SFU
  • Proof of relationship: A copy of your marriage certificate or proof of common-law status
  • A copy of your study permit (if applicable) and passport
  • Biometrics and/or a medical exam may also be required

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. 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.

An undated customs stamp normally authorizes the visitor to remain in Canada for six months. Your family members should ensure their passports are stamped upon entry to Canada.

To ensure that your family members travelling without you are admitted to Canada for the length of your study permit, be sure to send them copies of the documents listed above for them to present at the Canadian border crossing.