Changes to the Age of Dependency: How Young is too Young?

Changes to the Age of Dependency: How Young is too Young?

Late last month, Citizenship and Immigration Canada imposed changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations including reducing the age of dependent children from under 22 to less than19 years of age. These changes will come into effect August 1, 2014. If you have a child between 19 and 22 and still haven’t filed an immigration application, you should file the application before August 1, 2014.
What is the change in the law?

The new amendment defines a “dependent child” as

(i)less than 19 years of age and is not a spouse or common-law partner, or
(ii)is 19 years of age or older and has depended substantially on the financial support of the parent since before the age of 19 and is unstable to be financially self-supporting due to a physical or mental condition.

Why the sudden change?

According to the Canada Gazette, “dependent children represent 30% of the overall immigrants admitted annually to Canada”. Statistics Canada indicates that children who arrive in Canada between 19 and 21 years of age typically have a lower economic outcome in life than those who arrive in their mid-late teen years. In other words, according to government data, the younger the child is upon their arrival to Canada, the better they will do in life.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada indicates that this is the main reason for the change in regulation.

The older the dependent child, the more time-consuming the application

Another major factor in lowering the age is that, according to the federal government, processing applications of older dependent children is much more time-consuming than those of the younger children.

What is the reason for this? According to the government,
“The current allowance for older dependent children who are pursuing full-time studies to accompany principal applicants creates significant challenges and inefficiencies in processing applications. The verification of attendance and enrollment is both labour-intensive and vulnerable to fraud.”

Under the new regulations, children 19 years of age and older, regardless of whether or not they are enrolled in full-time studies, will no longer be considered dependents.

What if a child turns 20 while the application is being processed?

According to the new regulations, the age of a dependent child will be “locked in” on the date that a completed application is received. In other words, if the child is 18 on the day the application is received and date-stamped at the processing office, but turns 20 during processing, the child will still be considered a dependent for the purposes of immigration.

For applications that have two or more steps, such as the Provincial Nominee Programs in which an applicant must be approved by the province before proceeding to apply to Canada for permanent residency, the age of the child will be locked in on the date that the completed Provincial Nominee application is received.
What if an application is submitted prior to August 1, 2014?

All application received before August 1, 2014 will be processed under the old regulations.

In other words, if an application for permanent residence including a dependent child 22 years of age or younger was submitted prior to that date, the child will still be eligible. Having said that, there is never a guarantee that any application will be accepted, whether a dependent child is included on the application or not. For this reason, it is always important to ensure that an application is complete and accurate before filing.

This Article is prepared for general information purposes only and is intended to provide comments for readers and friends of the Filipino Journal. The contents should not be viewed as legal advice or opinion. If you have specific questions regarding immigration law, you should discuss them with a legal advisor of your choice.

Reis is a partner with Aikins Law and practices in the areas of immigration law. His direct line is 204-957-4640. If you would like to know more about Reis or Aikins you can visit the firm’s web page at or e-mail him at Leanne is an immigration legal assistant at Aikins Law. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology and criminal justice from the University of Winnipeg.