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Indian students – Can your spouse accompany you on your study abroad journey?

Expected questions from students who are studying or working post graduation abroad – Can I bring my spouse and child (or spouse) abroad? When and how can I do that?

Doodle Nandi
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Can my spouse accompany me during my studies abroad?

If you are an employee having a work visa and working with a reputed firm in New Zealand, your spouse is eligible to work full time.

As a student studying abroad, you might feel lonely sometimes when you start thinking about your family or wife. Your dependant(s) back home are your responsibilities as much as you are to them. But what if you bring your wife abroad and she feels lost? What if she finds it difficult to cope with the environment? What if she feels homesick and wants to go back to India?

Read this article that will help you know the policies of different countries for bringing your partner/spouse when you are studying abroad.

Different countries have certain norms for bringing dependant(s) abroad. Let’s see what those norms are –

1. Canada 

Three months post admission at a university in Canada, you can apply for a dependent visa. Canada’s immigration policies are not that strict, as you know, and the government gives freedom to people who wish to bring family along during their studies either for a short- or long-term.

While some countries grant a dependent visa only to legally married couples, Canada allows it for common-law partners. And spouses or common-law partners can apply for ‘open work permit’ and study or work full time either on campus or off campus.

Dependent visas could be applied either from your home country or from Canada (your spouse has to apply for a tourist visa in the latter case).

Read about the Express Entry system in Canada and find out what you think about the new norms. You can always have a word with our advisors to know how you can get into the pool of studying in Canada.

2. New Zealand 

In New Zealand, dependent visa rules are bit flexible where you can apply for one when applying for your international student visa. There are two categories of dependent visas that you can apply for : temporary and resident.

If you are an employee having a work visa and working with a reputed firm in New Zealand, your spouse is eligible to work full time there. (The dependant should be in a relationship with the visa holder (employee) for 12 months or so, which allows the dependant to work full time.)

New Zealand follows an unbiased approach and allows visas to ‘partnerships’ meaning: either a legal marriage or a de facto relationship (with same or opposite sex).

A dependent child (19 years or below) can stay in New Zealand as long as the parent’s visa is valid. Also, he/she could be enrolled at a primary or secondary school in New Zealand and would be treated as a domestic student.

Read what the New Zealand government says about a dependent child’s visa.

3. Australia 

The Australian government grants a dependent visa under certain grounds –

  • Children below 18 years.
  • If the spouse is in a relationship with the international student for 1 year.

In Australia the work rights of a spouse depend on which programme a student pursues, for example, if a student pursues bachelors, then the spouse can work up to 40 hours a week and if a student pursues masters, then the spouse will be granted unlimited work rights. 

4. Singapore

In Singapore, you can bring your spouse and child once you start working after completing your studies, for which you need to have an Employment pass/ Entrepreneur pass / S pass* and, most importantly, you are eligible for a dependent visa only if your annual income is SGD 5,000 per month or more.

The dependant(s) should apply for a Singapore dependent’s pass (DP) to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). MOM will decide if a visa could be granted to the spouse/common-law partner. Applications for both S pass and DP could be submitted together from your home country so that you get an early response and can collect both passes at the same time.

Similarly, MOM will convey when to renew both passes and they can be renewed at the same time. Usually a DP lasts for 2 years, which could be extended depending on the work visa it is tied to. Also, if you have a child, he/she can get admissions at a local or international K-12 schools in Singapore without applying for a student visa.

*Only the employer of the work visa holder has rights to grant a DP to the employee's spouse.

Know a dependent’s work rights in Singapore !

The holder of a DP pass is eligible to work in Singapore provided a Letter of Consent (LoC) is given to MOM. But the duration of the work will entirely depend on the work visa that the S pass is tied to.

If the DP pass holder wants to pursue higher studies at any Institution in Singapore, he/she needs to apply for a student visa.

5. United States 

As per the US government, only married couples are granted a dependent status. In the USA you need to present sufficient proofs of financial resources stating that you’ll be able to support your spouse and children in the foreign land. Each university will have specific norms that you need to check before you start applying for a dependent visa.

Your spouse can apply for F2, J2 or H4 visa to attain the dependent status. Simply put  – F2 means the spouse can neither work nor study, except vocational courses like cooking, language, writing, pottery, etc. – which doesn’t lead to any academic achievement or jobs. If the dependants are your children who are above 21 years, then you cannot bring them on international visas. 

For more information, you need to speak to our dedicated advisors who will tell you all the pros and cons of taking your spouse abroad during your higher studies.

You may also want to check out other secondary options like bringing your spouse on a temporary visa, such as a work visa or tourist visa. Let me explain:

  • Dependants who do not wish to stay for a long-term in the USA can apply for a visa in B status. This visa guarantees a short-term stay and is also considered as a visitor’s visa.
  • Dependants can apply for work visa, such as L1 or H1-B in which case they need to find a job in the USA before migrating.
  • Dependants who wish to study with their spouse together either at a same or different university can apply for independent student visas. 

Another point to note is some US universities might ask for a health insurance for your spouse and children. 

Some more info:

Activities that your spouse /partner can do abroad (worth suggesting):

  1. Join a foreign language course, and slowly get a part-time job.
  2. Join gym to keep the mind occupied. Or a yoga class maybe.
  3. Pursue a secret hobby, say, if your wife loves reading and writing, put her in touch with some clubs that you know can help her hone her skills or help her find some libraries nearby where she can spend quality time.
  4. Join a cooking community. Who knows your wife might be the first Indian in your neighbourhood to start an Indian bakery or resto.
  5. There could be more options – why don’t you find that out?

Did we miss anything? Did you get all the required information? You can always talk to our advisors if you wish to know more about the work visa rules for dependants abroad. 

Applying for a student visa?

Abdul Majeeth Abdul Majeeth,
Study abroad expert.
Our advisors can help you file your visa application and conduct mock interviews to boost your confidence. Request a call back or call us now on 1800 103 2581 / 1800 103 9634 (toll-free) for guidance.