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Changes to spousal work permit eligibility

IRCC announcement

As of March 19, 2024 the spouses of most international students are no longer eligible to apply for an open work permit.

However, there are some types of academic programs that IRCC has determined will continue to qualify for spousal work permits. At BCIT, the spouse of a student enrolled in a Masters Degree program may still be eligible to apply for an open work permit.

For more details, see: IRCC – Help your spouse or common-law partner work in Canada.

As an international student in Canada, you may have the opportunity to bring along family members such as a spouse (or common-law partner) and/or your children. This guide is intended to help international students understand what opportunities your family members may have in Canada and what documents they may require.

Status for spouse or common-law partner

***Expect major changes coming soon to spousal work permit eligibility as announced by IRCC.***

Your spouse or common-law partner may be eligible to apply for an open work permit if you study full-time at BCIT in a Masters Degree program. They may apply either:

  1. from outside of Canada,*
  2. upon entry to Canada (if a citizen of a visa-exempt country), or
  3. within Canada after arrival.

*Check with your local VAC to see if it may be possible to submit this along with your initial study permit application.

Generally, your spouse’s work permit validity will match your study permit. For details about how to apply, visit IRCC – Help your spouse or common-law partner work in Canada.

If you complete your studies and obtain a post-graduation work permit and become employed, your spouse may be eligible to apply again for an open work permit. For details, visit IRCC – Open work permits for family members of foreign workers.

If your spouse or common-law partner wishes to study in Canada, they may apply for a study permit along with your initial application from outside Canada, or later on from within Canada while your study permit is still valid.

If your spouse or common-law partner does not apply for a work permit or study permit before entering Canada, they would need to apply for a visitor visa or eTa in order to enter Canada temporarily as a visitor (not required for US nationals). If they wish to remain for the duration of your studies, they may apply for a visitor record to extend their stay as a visitor.

For additional information, visit the links below:

Status for dependent children

If you have any children that will be accompanying you, it is a good idea to begin researching schooling options early. If your child is a minor (in BC, under 19 years old), they may not need a study permit to begin studying locally. However, it is a good idea to apply for a study permit for your child as soon as they are accepted into a local school in order to reduce any risk of an interruption to their studies if you were unable to maintain your student status for any reason. For more information, visit IRCC – Studying in Canada as a minor.

If your children may study in public school from kindergarten through grade 12, check with the local school district to find out if international tuition fees will be charged. Visit BC – Eligibility of Students for Operating Grant Funding for detailed information about which students may or may not qualify for publicy-funded (tuition-free) education.

If your child will initially enter Canada as a visitor, make sure they have a visitor visa or eTa in order to enter Canada temporarily as a visitor. If they wish to remain for the duration of your studies, they may apply for a visitor record to extend their stay as a visitor.

Childcare services

Space in daycares or childcare programs in the Vancouver area are limited and can be challenging to secure. Many have long wait lists. Therefore, if your plans include sending a young child to daycare, we would advise you to begin researching and contacting daycares as early as possible and to prepare several back-up options. You can start by following the links below:

Medical coverage

It is possible to add dependent family members to your:

*Note that not all students will have Guard.me insurance or the BCITSA Health & Dental Plan

To better understand medical insurance in Canada, review Types of Medical Insurance in Canada and complete an online Medical Insurance Self-Assessment.