Dear Ms Powell,
I am 40 years old and would like to attend university in Canada. I also have a 19-year-old son who I would like to take with me. Can you tell me if they would give me a visa for both of us to go? I really want to upgrade myself and set a good example for my son, but I do not want to leave him when I go to study. Can I work when I get there? How do I proceed?
First of all, I have to say I am very proud of you. In the modern economy, learning is a lifelong process and Canada has very favourable programmes for adult education. Adults can apply to attend colleges or universities as mature students, and applications to schools by mature students are evaluated differently from applicants who have just finished high school.
Many schools in Canada recognise that mature students have life experiences that younger students may not have, such as work experience, experience as a parent or independent learning. Therefore, schools consider this experience and any academic credentials you have when you apply for admission.
Your first step would be to contact the individual college or university directly to find out about their mature student admissions programme and submit an application. You must ensure that the school is a Designated Learning Institution (DLI), a complete list is on Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website. Once you have your letter of acceptance, then you may apply for a study permit.
The next step will be to ensure that you are eligible and admissible before you actually submit your application for a Canadian study permit and a temporary resident visa. You will need to prove that you:
1. Have the required amount for tuition and living expenses;
2. Are able to present a clean police certificate;
3. Are in good health and passed the medical examination; and
4. Intend to return to your country at the end of your study.
Once you receive your study permit for full-time study, you will be permitted to work a maximum of 20 hours per week. You do not need to apply for a separate work permit.
You indicated that your son is 19 years old. CIC changed the definition of a child/ dependent. Previously, as long as your child was in full-time school and under 22, he would qualify as a dependent and be included as part of your application. However, under the new rules which came into effect on August 1, 2014, the only way your son would be considered to be a dependent is if he has a physical or mental condition and has always been dependent on you.
If your son does not have a mental or physical disability, he will be treated as a young adult. He will need to apply for his own study permit and temporary resident visa on his own merits. His first step would be to also get a letter of acceptance from a designated school as well. He should also be prepared to provide his official school records/ transcripts, his immunisation records, and medical and police report. You may, however, include your financial records as part of his application.
Once again, congratulations on your brave move! I'm proud of you. If you feel overwhelmed by the process, consult an immigration lawyer to guide you.
Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator, and notary public who is a member of the Jamaican and Ontario, Canada bars, with main office located in Ottawa, Ontario. Her areas of practice are in immigration, personal injury, commercial, family, and administration of estates. Visit her website at www.deidrepowell.com Submit your questions and comments to: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject line: Immigration. Tel: 613-695-8777. Find her on Facebook: jamaicanlawyer.