Studying abroad with dependents

If you are planning to study abroad and take your dependents with you then this is blog is for you. It reviews all the aspects you need to consider before your move.

Who are classed as dependent?

A dependent is someone who “depends on the financial support of another person”, usually a family member. Minors are considered dependents. Family members with medical conditions or disabilities may also be dependents, according to their condition. The mere fact of being ill or disabled does not necessarily result in financial dependence.

A trailing spouse is also considered a dependent when they leave their career and life projects to travel with you overseas.

Visa issues

For how long do you plan to stay abroad? If you stay for less than 3 months, a simple tourist visa is sufficient for you and your family. If you are a citizen of a country that has signed a visa waiver agreement with your host country, you can travel without a visa; your valid passport will suffice.

On the other hand, if you plan to stay longer on a student visa, you should know on which visa your dependent will travel. Are they also leaving to study abroad? If so, each of them will need to apply for a student visa. If not, will your student status alone allow you to apply for family reunification? Some countries grant this right to doctoral students or student researchers. But each application is considered on a case-by-case basis. Before planning your future life as a student, ask yourself if you will really be able to carry out your project.

Choosing your host city

Toronto, Montreal, Sydney, Tokyo, Amsterdam, Dublin, New York, Zurich, London, Helsinki, Copenhagen and Dubai are considered the most suitable cities. The quality of transportation, infrastructure, transportation (sidewalks, roads, access ramps, signage, etc.), and the number of restaurants, hotels and businesses accessible to people with disabilities are all taken into account. The Canadian government has, for example, developed a resource center on accessibility to raise awareness and improve the daily life of people with disabilities. This center redirects people to federal agencies that can provide specific assistance.

All prospective expats and their dependants must agree on the host city by inquiring about its perks and drawbacks—contact people who live there through friends or social networks. Ideally, test the waters to get an idea of the infrastructure.

If your dependent requires long-term treatment or any other support, ensure that the city you are moving to has the proper medical infrastructure. Contact local hospitals and doctors to explain your situation. Also, contact International health insurance to choose the most appropriate health coverage.

Benefits and allowances in your homeland

If the dependent receives assistance in the country of origin, you must first ensure that they will be able to keep it in the host country. In France, for example, holders of a disability pension can still claim their benefits abroad. They must first notify their health insurance fund and update their status and file their declaration once a year. On the other hand, holders of the Allocation Adulte Handicapé (AAH) may not stay abroad for more than 3 consecutive months during the calendar year. However, there are two exceptions, one of which may be relevant to people like you. It includes people who are studying abroad, learning a foreign language, or pursuing their professional careers. In these cases, the person may continue to receive the AAH. The same applies to people who are hospitalized in Belgium. They must obtain prior approval from the Health Insurance.

List all the benefits you and your dependents receive, like pension fund, health insurance, family allowance fund, unemployment benefits, etc., and contact the relevant agencies to find out if you can continue receiving them while abroad.

Assistance for expatriates

If you and your family are European citizens and are moving to a country in the European Economic Area (EEA), you will benefit from the assistance provided in your host country based on your current situation. If you are moving outside of Europe, contact the Embassy or Consulate of your host country to explain your situation and apply for assistance. The administrative services will evaluate the level of disability of the dependent in order to possibly grant an allowance and determine its amount.

If you are traveling in a European Union (EU) member state, consider the mobility inclusion card that has replaced the parking card since 2017. The mobility inclusion card allows you to use all public parking spaces free of charge, with no time limit. It is valid in all EU countries. Contact the Embassy of your host country for more information.

If you are traveling abroad with a minor child who needs a carer for their schooling, you will have to pay the accompanying person yourself. However, you might be eligible for some form of social assistance. France, for example, grants a scholarship to French children who attend school abroad and who need an accompanying person. The main requirement is to live with at least one of their parents listed in the register of French citizens living outside of France. The application must be made at your consulate. However, it cannot be combined with family allowances received in France.

Remember to contact the aid associations in your host country as you start planning your move abroad. They will provide you with useful information and help you refine your project.

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