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Canada Proposes Amendment to the Age of Dependent Children


Published   07:03 AM 6 November 2016
Updated    07:08 AM 6 November 2016

Canada Proposes Amendment to the Age of Dependent Children
The Government of Canada has made it known that for immigration purposes, family reunification is a priority. Family reunification offers family members that are separated by borders and long distances the opportunity to live together in Canada.
Today, it is common for young adults to live and be dependent on their parents for a longer period of time than in the past. As education takes precedence in many families, some children remain at home with their parents until they complete their studies, and they remain financially dependent on them during that time. It is only after their higher education is complete that they enter the labour market and are able to financially support themselves.
The problem with the current definition of a “dependent child” in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (the Regulations) is that it is too restrictive and does not include young adults pursuing higher education. The Regulations currently limit the definition of “dependent child” to individuals less than 19 years old.
The “dependent child” definition is used to limit those children who are eligible to immigrate as a dependent of a principal applicant in an immigration application. The definition extends to all immigration classes including economic, family, and refugee.
The current Regulations define a “dependent child” as a biological or adopted child of a parent, and must fall into one of the circumstances below to be considered dependent:

  • The child is less than 19 years of age and is not married or in a common-law relationship, OR
  • The child is 19 years of age or older, is unable to financially self-support due to a physical or mental condition, and has been financially dependent of the parent since before the age of 19.
From June 28, 2002 to July 31, 2014, the eligibility age of a dependent child was under 22 years of age as long as the child was not a spouse or common-law partner. The age limit was set as such to enable the inclusion of children staying at home with their parents in order to pursue higher education. As of August 1, 2014, the definition of dependent children was modified from children under 22 to include only children under 19.
Proposed amendment
One of the main objectives of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act is “to see that families are reunited in Canada.” The proposed regulatory amendment would add young adult children between the ages of 19 and 21 to the definition of a “dependent child” and thereby boost family reunification. The maximum age of dependent children will be increased from “less than 19 years of age” to “less than 22 years of age” in the proposed amendment.
Integration into Canada as well as contribution to the economy and community improve when families are able to remain united. The proposed increase to the age of dependent children is consistent with the Canadian and overall global trend that children are remaining at home with their parents for longer, whether studying or not. According to the 2011 Canadian Census, more than half of children aged 20 to 24 years old lived with their parents. This proportion increased most notably for young women, from 33% in 1981 to 55.2% in 2011.
Young adults pursuing higher education are unlikely to be eligible for immigration as the principal applicant under the economic immigration program until they have completed their studies and have gained substantial work experience. The increased age of dependency would therefore allow these young adults to be included in their parents’ application.
The Regulations, pending approval, are expected to come into force in fall 2017. The new definition of “dependent child” would apply to all applicants who submit a permanent residence application on or after the date the new Regulation comes into force.
For more information on Canadian immigration programs, please click here.
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