My wife got her Student Visa approved in 14 days (mid-February 2020) and got the Visa stamped by mid-March. This is when everything started closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She had to start her studies in May 2020 but as all flights were cancelled Universities and colleges in Canada started onboarding international students for online studies from their home countries.
After my wife started studying online, I started preparing for my SOWP. It usually took around 8-10 weeks for getting the SOWP approved at that time, but as we entered lockdown IRCC started delaying the application process due to staff shortage and lockdown. By the time I applied in July 2020 the processing time for SOWP application from outside Canada shot up to 38 weeks and kept climbing thereafter.
I submitted the application for SOWP and Study permit for my kids. As per the rules, Spouse and dependent kids are eligible to accompany the international student. Kids under 5 only need a visitor visa and those eligible to study in elementary/secondary school should ideally apply for a study permit. Dependent kids in Canada are defined as children under the age of 22.
I get the following questions very often from my friends and on social media, so I have collated my responses on how I applied for SOWP and Study Permit for my children.
Who is eligible for SOWP?
Spouse (Married/common-law) of international Students or Work Permit holders are eligible to apply for SOWP. They may live with their family members in Canada and work for any employer (with some obvious exceptions) throughout the duration of the study/work. Please note, that although you are eligible, having family members on a study permit application may impact the visa officer’s decision (sometimes adversely).
When to Apply?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question as there is no restriction on when you should apply for SOWP. I personally know many students who applied for SOWP together with the study permit and got approved. However, if I quantify the number of people who applied together as compared to those who applied after the Study permit, the later scenario wins hands-down.
My recommendation to all those who are in the same boat is that they wait for their spouse to get the study permit first and once the study permit is approved, you apply for SOWP. This will likely remove the obstacles and make the first application lighter and easier to approve for the Visa officer.
However, if you are newly married and/or have a very small kid, you may want to consider applying together because you have a genuine reason for taking care of the baby/kid or living together after the marriage.
How much time should I wait after the study permit approval?
You should apply for SOWP as soon as you get your study permit. I was a bit late and applied 1.5 months after my wife started studying but it didn’t matter much as we were in a lockdown. Ensure, you get the LOA or Enrolment letter from the institute which is closest to the date when you are applying for SOWP
How much funds should I show?
You must show that you will be able to sustain in Canada with your family for at least 1 (one) year without a job. I suggest you show the proof of funds as liquid cash (not FD, Gold, immovable Asset, CA report etc.). Refer to the following page for how much you should show as proof of fund including GIC (Proof of Funds). In case you fall short, show as much as you can but the funds must have been in the account for at least 4 months before applying. You can show funds totalling in all the accounts you have in India and Canada.
Documents Checklist: I have prepared the list of documents I used and you will need to apply for SOWP
- Passport – If possible, get your spouse’s name added to your Passport and vice-versa. If you have kids, your names will already be on their Passport. In case of any deviation, please get your passport corrected before you apply.
- Proof of Student Visa approval – Study Permit Approval letter and Student Visa issued by Canadian Embassy (if you are applying before your spouse lands in Canada, as Study Permit is issued at the Port of Entry). Visa/Permit must have at least 6 months validity
- Proof of Enrolment in a DLI (or collège d’enseignement général et professionnel (CEGEP) in Quebec) – Letter of Acceptance, Enrolment Letter and Semester Completion letter or Later Transcripts. Any of these documents whichever is closest to the date of you SOWP application. Request for these documents from the institute. Every institute will have a DLI number. A document with has DLI number must be attached.
- Proof of funds – You must show that you will be able to sustain in Canada with family for at least 1 (one) year without job. I suggest you show the proof of funds as liquid cash (not FD, Gold, immovable Asset, CA report etc.). Refer the following page for how much you should show as proof of fund including GIC (Proof of Funds). In case you fall short, show as much as you can but the funds must have been in the account for at least 4 months before applying. You can show funds totaling in all the accounts you have in India and Canada.
- Bank Statement and Salary Slips – I included my Bank statement showing salary credit and salary slips to prove my working status and strengthen my ties to home country
- Income-Tax Returns – I supported my income proof with past 2 years ITR (Income Tax Returns). This also prooves tax compliance in you home country. In case, not available, Form 16 must be provided or Tax prepration report from a Charterd Accountant.
- Proof of Relationship – This is a tricky part as a lot of fraud has happened in past and still prevails. IRCC is aware of these fraudulent immigrations tactics and Visa officers reject applications if they have any doubts or smell of any malpractice.
- Attach all documentary evidence of your marriage like Wedding card, marriage pictures, Marriage Certificate, Joint Accounts, nomination of your spouse in Insurance policies, Joint Home Loan, Land/house purchase etc. It is even more important when the marriage is new. For example, my marriage was 11 years old, still I attached pictures of my family starting from Marriage till-date, 1-2 pictures for each year of marriage.
- Birth Certificate and Passport of your child(ren) in case applying for their Study permit of Visitor Visa
- Note: All documents must be in English or translated in English and notarized
Hope the above document checklist helps you prepare your documents well. All the Best!