A Comprehensive Guide for International Students with Dependents: Visas, Work, and Study Permits

by | May 19, 2022 | Admissions

Home » Admissions » A Comprehensive Guide for International Students with Dependents: Visas, Work, and Study Permits

Being an adult student abroad comes with unique challenges. Most adult students have family obligations to consider. Long periods of separation from family members or dependents may not be feasible. However, there are many regulations and restrictions that come with bringing your spouse and dependents with you when studying abroad.

Are you planning to study abroad and take your family along for the adventure? This guide will give you some insight on bringing dependents with you when studying in the US, Canada, Australia, the European Union, and the United Kingdom.

Studying with Dependents in the United States

The United States allows international students to be accompanied by dependents. Dependents are defined as spouses and minor unmarried children—children over the age of 21 aren’t eligible to be dependents for students on F-1 and J-1 visas.

If you would like your family to accompany you to the U.S, make sure that your designated school official knows about it. They will issue you with a Form I-20 for each of your dependents.

Your dependents may apply for their F-2 or J-2 visas at the same time as you apply for yours or at a later date. Once they get their visas, they are allowed to enter the United States when you do or at a later date.

J-2 and F-2 dependents are eligible to stay in the U.S for as long as the F-1 or J-1 student remains in valid status. Once you complete your studies on an F-1 visa, you and your dependents are allowed to remain in the U.S for up to 60 days. If you have a J-1 visa, you and your dependents can stay in the U.S for 30 days after you complete your study program.

If you divorce your spouse, they can not remain in the U.S on a J-2 or F-2 dependent visa. Similarly, if your child marries or reaches the age of 21, they’re not allowed to remain in the US on their dependent visa. In both of these cases, dependents can apply for alternate visa status in a timely manner.

Before you begin the dependent visa process, make sure that you have enough funds to support yourself and your dependents while studying. Many universities require you to provide proof of funds—usually ranging from $4,500 for a spouse and from $2,500 per child—to issue you with a Form 1-20.

Your dependents must also have adequate health insurance. Your university might have minimum levels of insurance for you and your dependents—check with your designated school official.

Can My Dependents Study in the U.S?

Spouses of international students on F-2 visas are allowed to enroll in part-time study in the U.S—but they may not enroll in full-time study. Children on F-2 visas are may enroll in elementary and high schools (from kindergarten to 12th grade). F-2 kids can also enroll in university on their dependent visas until the age of 21.

F-2 spouses are advised to apply for a change of status to F-1 status if they want to engage in full-time study. Similarly, F-2 minors should apply for a change to F-1 prior to their 21st birthday if they want to continue their education in the U.S.

J-2 dependents (both spouses and children) are allowed study full-time or part-time in the U.S. Children with J-2 visas can enroll in elementary, and secondary schools as well as post-secondary education institutions.

Can My Dependents Work in the U.S?

Dependents on F-2 visas are not allowed to work in the U.S. However, if your dependent is on a J-1 visa, they are allowed to work in the U.S once they obtain proper authorization.  Both J-1 and F-1 dependents are, however, allowed to participate in volunteer activities.

Studying with Dependents in Canada

The Canadian government allows international students to be accompanied by their spouses, common-law partners, and minor children.

Canadian study visas are considered to be temporary resident permits. It’s assumed that the student will leave Canada once their permit expires. 

Applying to bring your whole family with you might lead visa officers to think that you’ve no intention of leaving as expected—which can negatively affect your visa application outcomes.

International students are also allowed to apply for their permits without dependents. Later, they can submit an amended application requesting authorization for dependents to join them in Canada. However, this strategy isn’t recommended as it can result in misrepresentation and attract a five-year ban from Canada.

Study permit applicants must show proof of funds to support themselves and their family members. You will also be required to obtain adequate health insurance for yourself and your dependents.

Can My Dependents Work in Canada?

Spouses and common-law partners of international students in Canada are allowed to apply for open work permits. An open work permit will allow the spouse or partner to legally work in Canada for the duration of the student’s study permit.

The application for a spousal work permit can be processed at the same time as the study permit application. But you’ll be required to pay additional fees.

Spouses and common-law partners are also allowed to travel to Canada on a visitor visa, after which they can apply for a work permit.

Can My Dependents Study in Canada?

Children of international students are allowed to study in Canada at preschool, primary, or secondary levels.

Once the child reaches the age of majority in the province, they must apply for their own study permit to continue studying in Canada. Spouses and common-law partners can also apply for study permits.

Studying with Dependents in the United Kingdom

There are certain conditions you must meet to be allowed to bring your spouse and children with you as an international student in the U.K.

Here are the conditions:

  • You must be a full-time student pursuing studies at a postgraduate level
  • Your course takes at least 9 months to be completed
  • You’re a new government-sponsored student on a course that lasts longer than 6 months
  • You’re a Ph.D. graduate holding visa under the Doctorate Extension Scheme

Note: If you’re in the U.K studying for an Advanced Diploma, you’re not eligible to bring your dependents with you.

Here are the family members that are eligible to apply for a Tier 4 Dependent visa in the U.K.

  • Your spouse, wife, or a civil partner
  • Your unmarried partner
  • Your minor children (aged under 18, including those born in the UK during your residence)

For your dependents to be considered, you’ll have to provide evidence of your relationships such as marriage, civil partnership, and birth certificates for your child.

You’ll also be required to provide proof of adequate funds (at least ₤6,120 per individual) to support yourself and your dependents while in the U.K.

The Process of Applying for a Tier 4 Dependent Visa

You have to wait until you’ve been granted a U.K student visa to begin the process of applying for dependent visas. If you’re in the process of applying for a Tier 4 visa extension, your dependents must also wait until you have a response to your application.

With your visa application number, your dependents can apply for theirs online. However, they will have to get their fingerprints taken at a visa application center.

Your dependents will be issued with a temporary resident permit that allows them to stay in the U.K for 30 days. After arrival in the U.K, you must make an appointment at the closest UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services to collect their biometric information and authenticate their identity.

How Long is a Tier 4 Dependent Visa Valid for?

The validity of the Tier 4 Dependent visa expires on the same date as yours. Your partner or child is allowed to apply to extend or switch their visa status when:

  • You apply to extend or switch your own visa
  • At any time before their current visa expires

Can Tier 4 Dependents Work and Study in the U.K?

All Tier 4 Dependent visa holders are allowed to work full-time in the U.K as long as they’re over 16 years old. The only restriction is that they can’t work as doctors or dentists in training.

Dependents may also undertake full-time or part-time study in the U.K. In most cases, however, they’ll be required to pay overseas fees.

Studying with Dependents in Australia

It’s possible for your dependents to accompany you when you’re studying in Australia. You can either apply to bring them with you as you apply for your student visa or apply to have them join you later.

Even if you don’t plan for your immediate family members to accompany you, you must declare them on your visa application. If you don’t do so, your dependents won’t be eligible to join you if you change your mind later on.

For dependent visas to be processed, you must also pay to add them to your Overseas Student Health Cover membership.

For your dependents to join you in Australia, you’ll have to provide them with a copy of your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) and an invitation letter.

Can Dependents Work in Australia?

The visas for your dependents give them permission to work in Australia. Like international students, dependents are allowed to work for 20 hours a week. However, unlike international students, they’re not allowed to exceed the 20 hours a week limit—even during holidays.

Can Dependents Study in Australia?

If your children are of school-going age, you’re mandated to enroll them in either private or state schools. Your spouse is allowed to study for up to 3 months. If they want to enroll in longer courses, they must apply for their own student visa. 

Studying with Dependents in the European Union

Students from non-EU countries are allowed to bring their dependents into their host countries for a stay of up to 90 days if they apply for a Tourist Schengen Visa. For longer stays, your dependents must apply for a residence permit. 

You’ll be required to prove that you have adequate funds to support yourself and your family members in the EU. You may need to provide medical certificates, marriage certificates and/or birth certificates for your dependents.

Check the conditions to apply for residence permits for dependents for the specific EU country on the relevant governmental websites or embassies. 

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