Additional Considerations for Students Under 19 Years Old

In British Columbia, students under 19 years of age are considered minor children. If you are not accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, Canadian immigration authorities may require that you be cared for and supported by a responsible adult in Canada during your studies.

This person is known as a “custodian.” A custodian is a responsible adult who will take care of and support the minor child, and must, at minimum, be:

  • a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident,
  • over 19 years of age; and
  • currently residing in Vancouver or the surrounding area.

Students under 17 must have a custodian to study in Canada.

Students who are between 17 and 19 may be required to have a custodian; this decision is made at the discretion of an Immigration Officer. It may be preferable for students in this category to voluntarily provide a custodian in their application.

Appointing a Custodian

Legal arrangements must be made to give the custodian permission to act in place of a parent. Please see IRCC’s “Studying in Canada – Minors” page for more information and the required forms.

To prevent delays in receiving a study permit, it is highly recommended to appoint a custodian before arriving in Canada. For minors who are 17 years of age or younger, parents or legal guardians in the country or territory of origin and the custodian in Canada must complete a notarized Custodianship Declaration (IMM 5646). Pages 1 and 2 of the form are required when submitting the study permit application.

If you need assistance finding a custodian, consider approaching an extended family member living in Metro Vancouver first. If none are available, you may consider approaching a family friend or business associate for assistance.  It is recommended to look for one who lives close by. For example, if the student is going to live in Burnaby, it is better to have a custodian in Burnaby or in a nearby city.

Alternatively, there are companies that provide such services for a fee. Agencies may provide either:

  • stand-alone custodianship services; or
  • homestay and custodianship services.

Additional resources:

Disclaimer: University Canada West neither endorses nor is affiliated with any custodianship or homestay providers. This information is provided as a resource for University Canada West students looking for these services and is intended to provide only general information and guidance. Every student is responsible for reviewing their own individual conditions, study permit, and immigration status and understanding their immigration needs. University Canada West assumes no liability for any disputes arising from custodianship, homestay, or other services. Each student and their family are responsible for researching agent services and ensuring that they are satisfied with the terms and conditions of these arrangements.