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New Rules for Dependent Children Soon to Take Force

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As a result of recent regulatory amendments, starting 1 August 2014 the Canadian government will redefine who can immigrate to Canada as a ‘dependent child’. From that date onward, the definition of dependent children will be narrowed to individuals 19 years of age or younger. Currently, the age cutoff for dependent children is 21 years of age.

This change has major ramifications for individuals applying for Canadian immigration with their families.

Who is a Dependent Child?

In the context of Canadian immigration law, a dependant child is not only the biological or adopted offspring of an applicant, but must also meet certain criteria. Previously, children could be considered dependant if they were either:

  • Under the age of 22 and not married or in a common-law relationship;
  • Reliant on the financial support of their parent(s) before turning 22 and unable to support themselves due to a mental or physical condition; or
  • Reliant on the financial support of their parent(s) and studying as a full-time student since before 22 or since becoming a spouse or common-law partner.

What’s Changed

With the new definition of “dependant child” coming into force, the Government of Canada will now reduce the age of dependency to 19.  This means that, after August 1, in order to be considered a dependent child for the purposes of immigration, an individual must:

  • Be under 19 years of age; and
  • Be neither married nor in a common-law relationship

It is important to note that children over 19 will no longer be considered dependents if they are participating in full-time studies. However, children who are 19 years and older and unable to support themselves because they suffer from a mental or physical condition can still be considered dependant.

The processing fee for all dependant children will now be $150.

Government Rationale

 Economic stability is a major area of concern for Canada. As a result, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act is designed to maximize the benefits of immigration on the Canadian economy. Attracting immigrants that have the greatest chances of achieving economic success in the labour force is thus a central goal.

The Government of Canada claims that, after extensive research, it has found that  younger dependent children, between ages 15 and 18, achieve more economic success and adapt more easily to the Canadian labour market than those that are older (between 19 and 21).

Dependent children account for a full one-third of immigrants admitted to Canada each year. Such high numbers contribute in part to Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s uphill battle in keeping immigration processing times as low as possible.  The department reasons that the upcoming changes will reduce processing times for visa officers who currently work long hours certifying claims of full-time school enrollment for older dependent children.

Fraudulent school attendance records are also common sources of problems that delay processing. The changes take school enrollment out of the equation altogether, thus simplifying the process for both applicants and visa officers.

Applying for Immigration with Dependent Children

The changing definition of “dependent child” has significant consequences for prospective immigrants to Canada. If one or more of their children are no longer considered a dependent child and cannot accompany them, many potential immigrants may choose not to come to Canada. However, the regulations do not go into effect until August 1, so there is still time to benefit from the current rules. Individuals hoping to immigrate with children over the age of 19 must apply before this date in order to ensure that their children will be considered for immigration to Canada. It is important to note that this change will not be applied retroactively to applications submitted before August.

“One of the greatest benefits of becoming a Canadian permanent resident is that not only do you get this coveted status, but so do your dependents,” said Attorney David Cohen. “In just a few short weeks, many families will learn that their young adult children are no longer able to join them on their Canadian journey. They will have to act fast to either submit their applications before the rules go into play, or to explore other options for their loved ones to immigrate.”

It is important to note that there are over 60 Canadian immigration programs, and that children who are no longer classified as dependent may be eligible to immigrate through a different program. In addition, they may be eligible to come to Canada as international students or temporary foreign workers. However, for many families the most straightforward option is to include any and all eligible individuals on a single immigration application.

To find out if you are eligible to immigrate through one of over  60 Canadian immigration programs, contact Campbell Cohen today.

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