When it comes to the cost of university education in Canada, there is a considerable difference in what Canadian students pay and what international students pay.  This expensive cost differential is made up of international fees.

Yet not all international students have to pay these expensive international fees.  There are exemptions for people who fit into certain categories, including those who are legal dependents of a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or one of the other categories listed below.  This includes, for example, the child or common law partner or spouse of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.  However, that dependent status must have been established for a minimum of three years.

To qualify, students will have to show a valid photo I.D. for themselves as well as the person on whom they are dependent, in addition to proof of a relationship with the person on whom they are dependent and proof that this person fits one of the exemption categories listed below.

Who is Exempt?

Exemptions from international fees are made for students who are legal dependents of someone who fits into one of the following categories:

  • Canadian citizens/Native Canadians;
  • Permanent residents;
  • A visitor with a work permit (there are some exclusions to this category: the main exclusions include individuals with open work permits, including post-graduation work permits);
  • A visitor with diplomatic status;
  • Religious workers, and;
  • Protected persons (those who have applied for and received the status of a Convention refugee or a person in need of protection under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.).

Legal dependents include the following:

  • A spouse;
  • A common-law partner;
  • An unmarried dependent child or the dependent child of a spouse or common-law partner (see additional requirements below);
  • An unmarried dependent child of the unmarried dependent child (the grandchild of the person who fits one of the categories above, provided the parent of the grandchild is also a dependent) (see additional requirements below).

To qualify as a dependent child, there are additional requirements.  The dependent child must be:

  • The biological or adopted child of a person who fits one of the requirements above (Canadian citizen, permanent resident, etc.);
  • Under 22 years of age;
  • Enrolled continuously at a college, university, or other educational institution;
  • Dependent on the financial support of the parent since before he or she was 22 years old;
  • A person with a disability who is unable to be self-supporting due to that disability.

How to Apply

Students who fit one of the above categories can apply for an exemption to international fees through the Registrar’s Office of their college, university, or other educational institution.  Students will need to provide valid supporting documentation in its original format, and may be required to prove their status by showing valid documentation to their college or university at any point during their studies.  The name of the student, as listed on any supporting documentation, must match the student’s name as it appears in the college or university records.

A student’s exemption from international fees will last only as long as they have valid status with regard to one of the above categories.  For example, if the student qualifies based on his or her status as the dependent child of a parent on a work permit and that parent’s work permit expires, the student will no longer be exempt from international fees.  Similarly, if the student qualifies for an exemption as the common-law partner of a Canadian citizen and the relationship ends, the student will no longer qualify for an exemption from international fees.  However, if a student’s status changed as a result of circumstances beyond his or her control, he or she may still be exempt for the duration of his or her study program.  Students in this position will need to speak to their educational institution to see if this exception applies to their specific case.

Deadlines for applying for international fee exemptions will vary by educational institution.  It is important to check with your college or university to determine specific deadlines to meet and procedures to follow when applying for an exemption from international fees.

Supporting Documentation for Dependents

If a student is a legal dependent of someone who is a Canadian citizen or Native Canadian, a permanent resident, a visitor with a work permit, a visitor with diplomatic status, a religious worker, or a protected person, the following documentation will be required:

  • Supporting documentation proving their dependent relationship;
    • This can include, for example, a statutory declaration or affidavit of common-law status, a marriage certificate, legal adoption documentation, a birth certificate, etc.
  • A valid study permit, if applicable;
  • A current, valid photo I.D. for both the dependent and their parent(s), spouse, or common-law partner, and;
  • Supporting documentation verifying the status of the person upon which the student is dependent, such as:
    • For Canadian citizens/Native Canadians: Canadian passport, Canadian birth certificate, Canadian citizenship card, Certificate of Indian Status card;
    • For Permanent Residents: Canadian Permanent Residency Card, Confirmation of Permanent Residence, Letter from Immigration Canada approving “in principle” the application for permanent residence;
    • For Visitors with work permits: work permit for a specific employer within the province and a letter of employment;
    • For Visitors with diplomatic status: Diplomatic or Consular Card, Diplomatic Visa, Consular Passport, foreign military card;
    • For Religious Workers: Offer of employment for the religious organization, statement/letter from the religious organization;
    • For Protected Persons: “Notice of Decision” issued by the Immigration and Refugee Board, A protected person document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada under Section 31(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

For a full list of students who are exempt from international fees, more information is available at the following University of Toronto websites:



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