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Canada Raises Age of Dependent Children to Under 22 Years of Age

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Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has confirmed it will raise the maximum age of a dependent child who may be included on an application to immigrate to Canada. As of October 24, 2017, principal applicants may include their children aged 21 and under, who are not married or in a common-law relationship, on their immigration application.

Currently, children under 19 years old may be included on an application to immigrate to Canada. This has been the case since August 1, 2014 — prior to that date, the maximum age was under 22. Consequently, this recent regulation change represents a return to the previous definition of a dependent child. The new definition of dependent child applies to children included on applications for permanent residence through economic, family, and refugee/humanitarian programs. The change will take effect for applications submitted on or after October 24.

Children aged 22 and older who have depended substantially on the financial support of their parent(s) since before the age of 22 years, and who are unable to be financially self-supporting due to a physical or mental condition, may also be considered dependent.

IRCC has confirmed that the age limit change will not be applied retroactively to applications submitted on or after August 1, 2014, and before October 24, 2017. It explained its decision, stating that ‘applying the change to in-process applications would require a pause in finalizing many permanent residence applications and would impact processing times in many programs.’

Family reunification remains a priority

The raising of the maximum age of dependent children has been a main goal of IRCC since the Liberal government came to power in November, 2015. The government places an emphasis on family reunification as a priority within the immigration system — across economic, family, and refugee/humanitarian programs — as integration and economic success of newcomers to Canada are improved when families can remain together. The return of the maximum age of dependent children to its previous definition is seen as a key part of upholding family reunification.

A primary objective of this regulatory amendment is to enhance family unity and reunification by enabling Canadians and permanent residents to bring their young adult children between 19 and 21 years of age to Canada. This is consistent with two of the main stated objectives of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act: with respect to immigration, “to see that families are reunited in Canada,” and with respect to refugees, “to support the self-sufficiency and the social and economic well-being of refugees by facilitating reunification with their family members in Canada.” — IRCC

According to data presented by IRCC, over past years, there has been a growing trend of children remaining financially and emotionally dependent on their parents for longer. The regulation change is intended to reflect this trend. For example, many young people remain dependent on their parents while pursuing higher education, or beginning their careers.

The 2011 Canadian census found that among 20 to 24-year-olds, 63.3 percent of men and 55.2 percent of women lived with their parents. Moreover, the median age at which post-secondary students complete their degree is 24.8 years — consequently, the regulation change will enable many students to be considered dependent children, for the purposes of Canadian immigration, throughout much of their post-secondary studies. IRCC acknowledges that ‘These young adults would be unlikely to be eligible for permanent resident status as principal applicants under an economic immigration program, until they have completed post-secondary education and gained significant work experience.’ Therefore, family reunification principles are upheld in enabling these young people — who are gaining valuable education experience in preparation for entering the labour market as skilled workers — to come with their parents to Canada.

Between 2002 and 2014, when the age of dependent children was lowered to under 19, dependent children represented around 28 percent of all immigration applications approved each year. Of this 28 percent, 22 percent of dependent children were aged 19 or older. Therefore, more than six percent of all new immigrants to Canada were children aged 19, 20, or 21, who were included on their parents’ application.

On October 29, 2016, IRCC pre-published its proposed change in the government’s official Gazette, and opened a 30-day comment period. During that time, feedback was received from various stakeholder groups, and was overwhelmingly supportive of the initiative.

“This latest action on the part of IRCC proves that our immigration ministry is committed to supporting its words with concrete actions,” says Attorney David Cohen. “It is laudable that the ministry is changing its regulations positively to reflect the lived realities of families around the world who are looking to come to Canada.

“Dependent children aged 19 and over represent a minority percentage of applications approved, yet the impact on families is immense. This upcoming change will significantly improve the immigration and settlement process for many newcomers to Canada.”

To find out if you are eligible to immigrate to Canada permanently, fill out a free online assessment form.
To find out your options for family sponsorship, fill out a free assessment family sponsorship assessment form today.

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29 thoughts on “Canada Raises Age of Dependent Children to Under 22 Years of Age

  1. Avatar

    My son was born 1994 December, I did my family sponsorship in March 13 2017, will my son who is full time student qualifiyou? Please advice

  2. Avatar

    Are there any laws that allow a single parent in canada to sponsor her only child (1 and only child) who is over the age of 22 but financially denpending on his parent in canada.
    Father (deceased).

  3. Avatar
    Njeri Eunice

    “Family reunification remains a priority” – I still don’t understand how this is a priority. Immigrants are able to bring into Canada their “aged” parents (who can’t work), yet a parent who is already settled here in Canada and has made it home, cannot sponsor their unmarried son or daughter who is between 22 – 30 years even though they can afford to help them settle.
    Its also difficult to get a visitor visa for the said family members to visit, meaning the parent has to keep going back and forth to their home country to visit. If a visitor visa can be granted for visits that would be at least helpful to reunite families at least over the holidays like Xmas season.

  4. Avatar

    I would like to ask in your good office if there’s a chance to apply my 24 years old son, single he was born dated Feb.6,1993 in a family sponsorship i applied my permanent residency last Nov.2015 and i did not included him in my application as my consultant lawyer advised me and i got my permanent resident card this March 22,2016. Thank you so much!

  5. Avatar

    I will complete 21 years old this year, can I submitt my aplication with my family as long as I am not 22 ?

  6. Avatar

    Hi, If this is the case for family reunification, I would like to know what should I do as no1 is helping me out. My brother was dependent on parents since childhood, now my parents are no more alive, so he is SOLELY dependent on me and I am a PR here. My brother is of 21 years and single also orphan and dependent on me. What should I do to get re-united with him? Nobody is coming ahead to help, not getting email responses back frm immigration office. Sense of urgency is also something to take care of. Website says Canada re-unite families which is not at all upto the point. What are my options to sponsor my orphan and dependent brother?

  7. Avatar

    BONJOUR, J’ai m appelle Amin Daher je suis né en 1987/01/01 j’ai habite à Djibouti et je suis diblome en mention bien mon filière gestion administrative et je travaille à la banque 8 ans jusqu’à aujourd’hui, et je suis un père des trois enfants.
    Mon rêve était toujours jusqu’à maintenant comment j’ai peux aller au Canada là où que je trouve des meilleurs travail et des meilleurs amis.
    Je veux pas que je finis mon âge à Djibouti, pourquoi ? Parce que ce chaud et aussi les vi et très chères il ne y a Pas des développement voilà mes frères.
    Pouvez vous me donner des chances slp ?

  8. Avatar
    Leena Gupte

    We are applying for investor’s visa for Canada.we are fully qualified for it.Now my question is related to my son who is completing 22 years on 23rd October 2017 &who is dependent on us & studying,whether he will be eligible for the visa or not

  9. Avatar
    wael abo assaly

    I’m wael abo assaly .I’m syrian and I moved to lebanon with my famely my wife and 3girls my daughters’s age..15..12..4years .
    IAsked for ahelp of UN but Ihave no answer because they have big numbers .l want the safty for my famely .and good life for my daughters…please help me..thanks

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