5 countries that allow international students to bring their spouse and family

dependant visa
While studying abroad is excellent, leaving your loved ones behind can be difficuly. Source: AFP

Choosing to study abroad often means leaving your wife, husband, and family behind. This has led to too many of us putting our study abroad dreams on hold.

The good news is you don’t face the same limitations in all countries There are several countries that offer dependant visas that allow you to bring your spouse and family along.

With these dependant visas, you don’t have to bear the stress and emotional strain of leaving your loved ones behind.

The greatest bonus is they’ll be with you to share all the experiences and opportunities your study abroad journey may bring.

dependant visa in the UK

Britain’s Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge speaks to Science teacher Mariam Kassir, (L), Senior Researcher University of Oxford, Elizabeth Rapa (R) and Science Curriculum Leader, Liza Dimitriadis (2L). Family members of PhD candidates can apply for a dependant visa in the UK. Source: AFP

Dependant visa in the UK: What you need to know

Last May, the British government announced that they’re banning international students from bringing their family members.

As such, from January 2024, only family members of international students who fulfill the following UK dependant visa requirements will be granted a dependant visa:

  • undertaking a PhD or other doctoral qualification, or a research-based higher degree (such as a master’s by research)
  • studying a programme of more than six months and you are in receipt of a full government scholarship (fees and living costs)

The UK government considers the following as your dependants:

  • spouse
  • civil partner
  • unmarried partner you’ve been living together with for a minimum of two consecutive years)
  • your children under 18 years old

Your family members holding a dependant visa here can work full-time in the UK but not as a doctor or dentist in training, or as a professional sportsperson or coach.

5 countries with dependent visas that let you bring your spouse and family

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With the dependent visa, you can now fulfil your dream of studying abroad in Australia without leaving your spouse behind. Source: AFP


If you have always wanted to study in the Land Down Under, you’ll be pleased to know that Australia is one of the countries allowing you to bring your spouse and family along with you. 

The dependent visa programme was created with the aim of luring more skilled migrants into the country. 

When applying, you can either include your spouse and family on your original student visa application or apply for their visas once you have started your course. 

The visa is eligible for spouses and unmarried children under the age of 18. 

If you choose to include them when applying, you will need to provide evidence of your relationship, which includes lease agreements, registration documents, ownership documents or birth certificates, in your Form 157A

When applying, you must have a minimum of 12 months’ validity on the visa and substantial funds and insurance to cover all your expenses for this period. 

If you choose the latter, you must submit the following documents:

  • Form 919: nomination of student dependants 
  • Form 157A: student visa application form 
  • A letter from your lecturer stating your course name, length of course, expected completion date and your progress so far
  • Proof of finances: bank statements, loans, etc
  • Proof of family ties: marriage or birth certificate 
  • Proof of school enrollment if you have children. 
  • Proof of health insurance 

The best part about choosing to further your education in Australia is that your family not only gets to follow you but can also work while there. 

Here, the dependant visa allows your spouse to work or even be self-employed. The work rights given to dependants will be according to your level of study. 

If you are pursuing an undergraduate course, your dependant can work 48 hours per fortnight. However, if you are enrolled in a postgraduate course, your dependant can work without any limitation. 

In fact, the Australian government has significantly increased the base pay of skilled migrants from 53,900 Australian dollars to A$70,000

Allowing your spouse to work is a great flexibility that not all countries offer — the US is notorious for issuing F-2 visas which allow spouses of international students to live in the US, but bans them from working.


Every year, hundreds of thousands of international students travel to Canada to pursue higher education. In 2023, nearly one million international students chose to study abroad in Canada. 

Why is Canada so popular?

Aside from great cities, prestigious universities and scenic spots like the majestic Niagara Falls, Canada is one of the countries that issue dependent visas to international students with spouses and families.

And the country has plans to welcome more international students and dependents.

Recently, the country released its Immigration Levels Plan for 2024 to 2026 to strengthen the economy, reunite families and help refugees.

It targets the admission of 485,000 new immigrants in 2024 and 500,000 in 2025 and 2026.

To qualify for a dependent visa, there are several requirements. For example, your spouse must be married for at least one year to be eligible. 

They will first undergo a language test to determine their proficiency and then move forward with the application.

International students and their partners are advised to apply at the same time to avoid any delays as the process can take up to three months. 

All you have to do is submit your application form, language proficiency test results, marriage cert, proof of funds, loans, etc. 

But that’s not all. 

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) offers each international student’s spouse the option to work full-time in the country.

The spouses of students will be eligible for an open work permit valid for the same period as the student’s study permit.

The work permit will have the same period of validity as the student visa will have.

dependant visa

Discover all Germany has to offer with your loved ones by your side. Source: AFP


Guten Tag! Imagine studying in Germany while enjoying incredible beer, juicy Bratwurst and delicious Brezel, all while you have your spouse and family by your side. 

With Germany’s dependant visa, also known as a family reunion visa, this dream can become your reality. 

The visa permits your spouse and children to join and live with you temporarily as you complete your studies. 

Did you know Germany topped the list as the best country to raise a family as an expat?

The country boasts an excellent education system, many work opportunities, a growing economy and a higher median salary than most European countries

If you tick all the requirements, you can bring your family members to live with you during the study period on your visa 

These requirements include: 

  • Sufficient money to cover the entire period of your stay 
  • A proper place to live 
  • Marriage license 
  • Your partner has to be over 18 years old 
  • A1 level of the CEFR in German 
  • In a course that is at least one year or more 

What’s more, family visa holders can work in Germany if they are of working age and fit all the requirements.

dependant visa

Dependent visas ensure that families get to stay together while chasing their dreams. Source: AFP

New Zealand 

With a dependent visa, your spouse can follow you as you fulfil your study abroad dreams in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

Aside from its beautiful landscapes of mountains and lakes and its quality education, New Zealand is also highly sought after as you are able to bring your family along for the journey. 

Under the Skilled Migrant Category, you can live, work and study in the country indefinitely with your spouse and children aged 24 and under.

A dependant child can study at a primary or secondary school in the country. This means your child is treated as a domestic student, who doesn’t have to pay tuition fees for them to go to school.

And if that’s not enough, spouses who are staying for more than six months can apply for a partner of a Worker Work Visa, which is a permit with open work rights, allowing them to find work in any field or be self-employed. 

dependant visa

For the sixth year in a row, Finland has ranked as the happiest country in the world. Source: AFP


According to the World Happiness Report, Finland was the happiest country in the world in 2023 for the sixth consecutive year. 

And there is no denying its title. 

You will find clean air, beautiful landscapes, world-class universities, affordable education and safety here. 

If you plan to study in Finland, your spouse can apply for a residence permit to join you. The application will be processed together by Finnish immigration.

The good news is if your spouse plans to work while you complete your studies, they can apply for a residence permit. Once the permit is approved, they can work full-time while in the country.  

These are the family visa requirements:

  • A valid passport
  • PK1 plus form to apply for Finnish residence
  • Birth certificate 
  • Marriage certificate 
  • Proof of finances 
  • Proof of your residence