Can a foreign worker bring their family with them to Canada?

by | Apr 28, 2023

Canada is a popular destination for foreign workers seeking employment opportunities. Many foreign workers wonder if they can bring their family members with them when coming to Canada on a work permit. The general answer is yes, with some exceptions. In this blog post, we will explore the rules and regulations around bringing family members to Canada on a work permit, including eligibility requirements and exceptions.

Family Members Eligible To Accompany Foreign Workers

Family members in this case generally refer to the spouse of the foreign worker, who can be their common-law partner, married partner, or same-sex partner, as well as their dependent children. Canada’s immigration rules allow foreign workers to apply to have their dependent family members accompany them while they are working in Canada, with some exceptions.

Open Spousal Work Permit

A foreign worker may be able to have their spouse come to Canada with them by applying for what’s called an open spousal work permit. This is a work permit that is not affiliated or tied to a specific employer, and therefore the spouse would be able to work with any employer in Canada who chooses to hire them. This open spousal work permit can be applied for at the same time as the main applicant applies for their work permit.

Dependent Children’s Applications

Additionally, if there are dependent children involved, their applications for study permits or visitor records can also be included if they are of school age, allowing them to stay in Canada while both parents are working in Canada.

Exceptions for Certain Jobs and Seasonal Workers

However, not every spouse is eligible to apply under this program. If the main applicant is applying for a job in Canada that falls into tiers four or five types of jobs, then their spouse would not be able to accompany them. Tiers four and five jobs are jobs that do not require any education or may require a maximum of high school education to complete. Similarly, seasonal workers, such as workers on the seasonal agricultural programs, are not able to bring their spouses with them to Canada at this time, as the rules do not allow for it.

Requirements for Bringing Dependent Family Members

For everyone else, generally speaking, they would be able to bring their dependent spouse and dependent children with them to Canada. However, there are some other requirements that need to be met, such as showing that the relationship with the spouse is genuine, even if they are not married but in a conjugal relationship that exceeds 12 consecutive months. At the time of applying for an open spousal work permit, the work permit of the principal applicant must also have at least a six-month validity period.

Responsibility of Family Members

It’s important to note that the dependent family members who are coming to Canada would not be the responsibility of the employer who is sponsoring the principal applicant. The spouse, for instance, would have to find their own employment using their open spousal work permit when they arrive in Canada, and it would not be the responsibility of the employer who issued the job offer to the principal applicant allowing them to come to Canada.


In conclusion, foreign workers coming to Canada on a work permit are generally able to bring their family members with them, including their spouse and dependent children. However, there are exceptions for certain jobs including seasonal agricultural workers. It’s important to be aware of the eligibility requirements and rules surrounding bringing family members to Canada on a work permit, and to ensure that all necessary documentation and applications are submitted correctly. Once in Canada, the family members would be responsible for their own employment and stay in the country.


Related resources

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