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Spouses, Partners and Families

 

Welcome Spouses and Partners!

Being the accompanying partner or spouse to a student or scholar is a unique, exciting but also challenging experience.   It takes a great deal of courage to move from another country to accompany your spouse or partner. Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) staff are committed to supporting you as you make this transition.   You are part of the Queen’s Community and are always welcome at our Centre.

Spouses and partners can sometimes face loneliness, financial stress, unemployment and isolation.   To provide further insight into these issues, we have included quotes from international spouses and partners.   Quotes include some concerns and recommendations that other spouses and partners have identified.   We have also included some ideas or tools that will help you.

The Living In Kingston Guide is a valuable resource that QUIC has designed with the needs of international students and their families in mind.   It contains links and ideas about the issues below as well as housing, education, banking, health care, and living in Canada.

Immigration Status in Canada

 

International Student (and family) Advising

Immigration status for family members (permits)

The accompanying family of an international student or worker (ie. spouse, partner and/or children), is eligible to stay in Canada as long as the student continues to have legal status.

In some cases, family members will be given status for the same period of time as the international student or worker when they arrive in Canada (through a stamp in their passport, a visitor record, or other temporary resident document).  Sometimes, they will only be given 6 months of status in Canada and they will need to apply to extend their status after arriving at Queen’s.

The spouse or partner is also eligible to apply for a work permit that gives them the right to work in Canada.   More information on that opportunity can be found below.

If the spouse or partner is admitted into an academic program, they can and must apply for a study permit within Canada.   Instructions are available at on our Studying in Canada page.

If it is necessary to apply to extend status after arriving in Canada, the application can be made on paper or online.   The paper forms are available through the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website while an online application to extend your status as a visitor is also available.  Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) try to give detailed instructions on the process. A few useful additional notes include:

  • The application must be submitted before the current status expires.
  • If you choose to apply online, keep a record of the username and password you use to access your MyCIC account.
  • If you decide to exit the online application at any point, all responses submitted until that point will be saved. The next time you access your MyCIC account page and click on the application you have in process, you will be brought to the last unanswered question.
  • The application fee can be paid online (if you have a valid credit card), or through a Canadian bank (using a payment form available from our International Student Advisors). A Visitor Record application costs $100 CAN.
  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada publishes current processing times for temporary residency document applications (this includes study permits, work permits, and visitor status extensions) through their processing centre.

More information about the application process is available from the International Student Advisers or through the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.

 

Temporary Resident (Entry) Visas (TRVs) for family members

If you are applying for a Study Permit or Work Permit outside of Canada and you include your family in your application, a successful application will result in TRVs being issued for everyone.   If you are applying solely for TRVs, you must provide a completed application form for all members of your family that will accompany you.

More information (including details about inviting family members who are not yet in Canada) is available on our Canadian Permits and Visas page.

 

Learning the English Language

English Language Support Program

Informal conversational English-language practice opportunity.

If you are interested in formal, paid English language instruction, consider contacting the Queen’s School of English or check the “yellow pages” section of the telephone book for information about English Language classes.

 

Staying Healthy and Active

Get physically active!

Although winters are long and cold in Kingston, they are also filled with lots of great things to do such as ice skating, hockey, and indoor sports. Summers are hot and can be filled with great outdoor pursuits and water sports. Check out the Recreation section of the Living In Kingston Guide to learn more about recreational activities.   Queen’s also has a wide range of athletic-based clubs.

 

Form or join a community group or club

There are many groups to join in Kingston and there is a listing of them in the QUIC Resource Library. This is a great way to meet new people, learn something new or pursue a passion. There are a number of clubs associated with the Queen’s University International Centre. Queen’s also has lots of special interest clubs or athletic-based clubs that are associated with the Alma Mater Society (the Queen’s undergraduate student government).

QUIC’s hope is that there will be a group of spouses and partners who would be interested in providing leadership and support for others by forming an association.   Come to our Centre and let’s talk about the possibilities!

 

Join QUIC Events

Copies of QUIC’s schedule of events are available at the Centre.   You will find many activities that you are welcome to participate in, like the “Learning to Love Winter session” (which gives ideas on how to combat the “winter blues” and stay healthy).   You can also visit the Calendar of Events page on the QUIC website for information about upcoming events for the whole family.

 

Health Insurance and Care

Everyone gets sick sometimes.   When that happens, it is important to know the services available to you and your family.   Our website includes information on the University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) and how to get care in Kingston.

 

Getting Connected and Making Friends

Join the QUIC Welcome and Orientation Activities

Held in August/September and January, QUIC’s Welcome and Orientation activities are a great way to meet others.

 

Share your experiences with others

The QUIC Resource Library has a Resource Binder that contains ideas, articles and studies that relate to spouses and partners. Come check it out and if you see something that you think relates to spouses and partners, please contact the International Student Advisers so that it can be included.

 

Join QUIC Events

Copies of QUIC’s schedule of events are available at the Centre.   You will find many activites that you are welcome to participate in.   You can also visit the Calendar of Events page on the QUIC website for information about upcoming events for the whole family.

Register for our E-mail Distribution List

This is a chance to receive e-mail updates on the latest events and opportunities at QUIC.

I found that <getting out to meet people> was a big thing in keeping my sanity. At first, I was spending a lot of time at home and I was starting to get really depressed. I started to get sad about being here and I just wanted to go home, but even if I am not meeting up with people, just going out of the house to go to the gym or walk down to the shops. Even if I can’t afford to buy anything.

Female students can visit the Ban Righ Centre

The Ban Righ Centre is a safe, welcoming meeting place and drop-in resource centre.

They assist women of all ages, especially those who are returning to university after a time away, to continue formal or informal education in an atmosphere where you will meet others with similar experiences and concerns with informed, supportive staff.

 

 Working and Volunteering

Talk with one of the International Student Advisers about applying for a work permit.

As the accompanying spouse or partner of an international student or worker, you are eligible to apply for a work permit that gives you the right to work in Canada.   A work permit does not guarantee you a job.

For information on how to complete an application for a work permit, please visit our “Working in Canada” page.

 

Support finding a job

I didn’t know the rules for getting a job. What can you do, what you cannot do.

There are organizations that support community members and students that are looking for short-term or career positions.  Unfortunately, the support they can provide to spouses and partners of students is limited either because they are supposed to focus on Canadian citizens & permanent residents or on students.  Still, it is worth checking with organizations like Career Services at Queen’s as well as Kingston Employment and Youth Services (KEYS) to see if they can provide guidance on preparing a ‘Canadian-style’ resume or how to prepare for an interview.  Listings of possible jobs in Kingston can be found here, here, and here.

I think that if I had known how hard it was to get work, and I mean that we < other Spouses and Partners> are all well qualified people. And knowing how hard it was, even with that, I would have looked into studying at the same time as my husband. Firstly, it would have improved my qualifications, and improved my chances of getting a job. And I would have met people that I have something in common with.

Learn about volunteer opportunities at QUIC

These can include volunteering with the English Language Support program, Income Tax (spring), Orientation or the World Link program.

I worked here at the International Centre as a library volunteer. Then after half of a year I found a job in downtown, but not my specialty ˜cause I used to be a teacher in <my country> I need certificate. But I worked there around two weeks and they fired me, because of my English. So I had to look for a job again. I found one as a dishwasher. But then they switched me to salad maker. So, more money, but still not what I really want.

Learn about Volunteer opportunities in Kingston

Getting involved in the city of Kingston can provide new social, language and employment opportunities.

A couple of months ago I got a good opportunity at <a local health care facility>. I am volunteering <in the> physiotherapist department. It is wonderful for me. I can enjoy shadowing, I can improve more my English too and get a Canadian experience. I feel it is perfect.

 

Relationships

Being in a new environment, a new culture, with different responsibilities, can sometimes cause changes in your relationships as you learn and adjust.   It is important to recognize that this is a common occurrence.

Talk with Someone

If you want to talk with someone about what you are experiencing, the Cross-Cultural Counsellor can provide confidential support.

I have found that it has had a big toll on our relationship, because he is so busy with his courses because his courses are a two year masters <program> crammed into one year. He’s so busy with that, yet I want his attention because I felt so lonely and bored here because I don’t know anyone.

You just feel like a weight on the shoulders of your husband, or your wife’s shoulders. Now this feeling has been for years.

 

 

Students and Scholars with Children

We want to extend a special welcome to families that come from overseas to the Queen’s campus. Yours is a unique challenge as you adjust to a new culture, but also as you help your children navigate their way.

Child Care

The guide has information on many subjects that are meant to make life in Kingston a little easier.   There you will find pages on The “Child Care” page of the Living in Kingston Guide provides information on finding care for your children while you work or run errands.   The “Recreation” page includes fun activities that can help you and your children connect with Kingston.

Children’s Education

Check out the Living in Kingston Guide.   The “Children’s Education” page of the Guide gives further guidance on finding a school for your children and getting them enrolled in studies.

Child Tax Benefit

The Government of Canada offers the Canada Child Tax Benefit to the parents of young children in Canada.   You and your children must have been in Canada for a minimum of 18 months to qualify.   Any parent that is in Canada must also file Canadian Income Tax forms to qualify (even if they have no income in Canada).   More information is available on our “Taxes” page.

 

Further Questions?

If you have further questions, after reviewing the information above, advising is available (without an appointment) from the International Student Advisers at the Queen’s University International Centre from Monday to Friday between 8:30am and 4:30pm.