Each year, Canada welcomes international students from all over the world who go there to obtain a high-quality post-secondary education. Canada’s generous immigration policy allows the spouse and minor children of international students to accompany them to Canada to work and study. In this way, a student’s entire close family can benefit from a Canadian work permit. This is good news but comes with its own set of challenges. We’ll take a look at some of the Survival Strategies for Partners/Spouses of International Students in Canada. If this is you, get on board let’s embark on a life-changing cruise.

1. Apply for an Open Work Permit

This is one of the survival strategies for partners/spouses of international students in Canada. It is important to know that in Canada, spouses and common-law partners of international students can apply for an open work permit, as long as the international student is in school full-time and has a valid study permit. Open work permits are not tied to any specific job and provide a way for accompanying partners to become legally eligible to work in Canada. International students who want to apply to study in Canada should grab this opportunity to help themselves financially.

2. Improve Language Skills

Accompanying partners with limited ability to speak and write in English face a major barrier to entering the local workforce. However, it will be useful to take as many opportunities as possible to learn and practice communicating with others in the Lingua Franca. Also, as an accompanying partner, it can be tempting and comfortable to interact mostly with other people from your home country in your home language. However, overcoming that temptation and spending time with a wider local community will be important for increasing your communication comfort. It is yet another of the survival strategies for partners/spouses of international students in Canada.

3. Grow your Local Network

Building local experience and work-related networks is another important part of successfully pursuing a career in Canada. This is because many Canadians find work through their networks of personal contacts. Even if your priority is not your career, developing a network of people that you can connect with locally can provide an important source of personal and family support and friendship.

4. Act Short Term, plan Long Term

Despite the existence of programs such as the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, many employers in Canada prefer to hire individuals with Canadian experience and references especially small organizations and local businesses. In order to be able to build Canadian work experience and networks, obtaining entry-level work, even in a field that is unrelated to your long-term career goals is one way to go.

Another option for partners waiting to obtain their open work permit is to volunteer, preferably with an organization that provides a record of volunteer work and reference letters for volunteers. But after building up enough Canadian experience in these entry-level and volunteer roles, get a job in your own field.

5. Explore all Formal Supports available

Endeavour to explore the kinds of career, employment and other support programs and services your spouse/partner’s university provides for international student families. Some campus-based services are limited to students, but other services may extend to accompanying partners. Check again and again in case the university changed its policies in response to the increased number of international students it is recruiting. This may provide you with important information and support to pursue your future career goals.

Obtaining admission to study abroad is a thrilling opportunity for international students and should be equally thrilling for their partners/spouses. Having found out the survival strategies for partners/spouses of international students in Canada, you are adequately prepared to make the best of the experience.

Good luck!

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