Applicants for Permanent Resident Status

In some cases, the sponsored spouse or child of a B.C. resident, who is an Applicant for Permanent Resident Status, may be eligible for coverage.

Determining Your Spouse and/or Children's Eligibility

To be eligible for coverage with British Columbia’s health care plans, your spouse/child must be a resident of this province. The Medicare Protection Act defines a resident as a person who is a citizen of Canada or is lawfully admitted to Canada for permanent residence, makes his or her home in British Columbia, and is physically present in British Columbia at least six months in a calendar year, or a shorter prescribed period, and includes a person who is deemed under the regulations to be a resident but does not include a tourist or visitor to British Columbia.

Based on the preceding, Canadian citizens and persons with permanent resident status in Canada are eligible to apply for benefits. In addition, certain non-permanent residents may be deemed residents and thus be considered eligible; for example, many holders of study permits and work permits if the permits are valid for six or more months, and many applicants for permanent resident status who are the spouse or child of a resident. Tourists and visitors to B.C. are not eligible for provincial health care benefits.

Note: Eligibility for MSP coverage cannot be confirmed over the phone. Health Insurance BC can only determine a person’s eligibility after the person arrives in B.C. and their application for coverage and immigration documentation has been reviewed.

Adding Your Spouse and/or Your Children to Your Account

If you are covered by your employer, union or pension plan, contact your benefits office for the appropriate form. If you look after your own coverage, you can obtain an MSP Account Change Form (HLTH 203) online (online submission or PDF version - 586KB), by visiting a Service BC counter, or by contacting Health Insurance BC.

Most immigration documents, when submitted with the required MSP application, provide sufficient information for Health Insurance BC to determine whether a person qualifies for benefits. There are circumstances, however, where additional documentation is required. If, for example, a spouse/child has visitor status in Canada and his/her papers do not state “Case Type 17” or provide any other indication that permanent resident status has been applied for, the MSP application should be submitted with copies of as many of the following as possible:

  • a photocopy of any immigration document he/she may hold
  • payment receipt(s) from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that the sponsorship fee and application fee for permanent resident status have been paid
  • the identity page of the spouse/child’s passport and any other pages stamped by IRCC or the Canada Border Services Agency
  • a copy of the spouse/child’s birth certificate if he/she is a United States citizen.

The above documentation from IRCC is required in order for  Health Insurance BC to determine eligibility and when, if appropriate, coverage should begin.

To ensure continued MSP coverage, please also submit Permanent Resident documentation once it is received from IRCC. 

When Does Coverage Begin?

New (and returning) residents are required to complete a wait period consisting of the balance of the month in which residence in British Columbia is established, plus two months before benefits can begin. The date residency is considered to have been established is determined by the Ministry of Health based on a number of factors, including the type of immigration status held.

For some persons the wait period does not start when they arrive in the province – it starts later. For example, a spouse or child may have arrived as a tourist/visitor and later become an applicant for permanent resident status.

The wait period begins on the date the sponsorship fee and application fee for permanent resident status has been paid to IRCC.

Initial coverage will be provided for a period of 12 months.

If absences from Canada exceed a total of 30 days during the previously mentioned wait period or an absence of more than six months is undertaken within six months of moving to the province, eligibility may be affected.

If a person attends a physician without an active CareCard or BC Services Card there is a possibility they may be charged for the services at non-resident rates (which are higher than MSP rates). Should it be determined at a later date that the person is eligible for coverage, MSP can only reimburse in accordance with the MSC Payment Schedule and the person would be responsible for any additional charges.

Benefits During the Wait Period

While a person may receive required medical and hospital services in B.C. before qualifying for provincial health benefits, the entire cost of such services is payable by the person, unless other arrangements for health care insurance have been made. As these costs may be very high, those who plan to move to B.C. from outside Canada are strongly recommended to make arrangements for health insurance through a private company before arrival, and to maintain that insurance until provincial health benefits are available.