ARCHIVED – Operational Bulletin 339 - September 15, 2011

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

This document has expired. Please refer to the appropriate Program Delivery Instructions for current information.

Change to the Custodianship Requirement for Minor Students


Effective September 15, 2011, the custodianship requirement will be discretionary for minor students between 17 years of age and the age of majority in the province or territory of the educational institution where they intend to study. The custodianship requirement will continue to be mandatory for minor children under the age of 17.


This Operational Bulletin (OB) is to inform officers that the mandatory custodianship requirement has been changed for certain minor children coming to Canada to study.


The custodianship requirement assures the immigration officer that adequate arrangements for care and support of a minor child, other than social assistance, have been made. While custodianship is not a specific requirement of immigration legislation, it supports the determination that a minor is not inadmissible to Canada for financial reasons.

1. Current Guidelines

Section 5.16 (Custodianship) of the “OP 12 Manual [PDF format, 350 Kb]” states:

“To satisfy A39 [Inadmissibility, Financial Reasons], all minor applicants must supply a notarized declaration, one signed by the parents or legal guardians in the country of origin, as well as one signed by the custodian in Canada, stating that arrangements have been made for the custodian to act in place of a parent.”

Minor children are defined as those who are under the age of majority, as set out by each province or territory at the time of their arrival in Canada.

2. Revised Guidelines

a. Mandatory Custodianship Requirement (under 17 years of age)

If a minor student is less than 17 years of age at the time of application, a custodian in Canada will continue to be required. The applicant must submit a notarized declaration signed by the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) in the country of origin, as well as one signed by the custodian in Canada, stating that arrangements have been made for the custodian to act in place of a parent. Officers must be satisfied that adequate arrangements are in place for the care and support of the minor student. The parent(s) or legal guardian(s), and the appointed custodian must acknowledge that the custodian will reside within a reasonable distance to the minor applicant’s intended residence and school. The custodianship declaration should include the information and signature of both parents, where applicable.

b. Discretionary Custodianship Requirement (17 to 18 or 19 years of age)

Applications from minors between 17 years of age and the applicable provincial/territorial age of majority at the time of application should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. In assessing whether the custodianship requirement should be applied, officers may exercise discretion in requesting additional documentation or an interview. An officer should be satisfied with respect to whether an applicant can provide care and support to oneself while in Canada. Officers should consider factors such as:

  • Level of studies – applicant’s intended level of academic studies. Those attending secondary school should normally require a custodian.
  • Level of independence – applicant’s current or past living arrangements and whether previous studies were completed away from their principal residence.
  • Financial capacity – applicant’s financial self-sufficiency outside of parent(s)/guardian(s) (i.e., scholarship, government sponsored, etc.).
  • Travel experience – applicant’s previous travel history, participation in international exchange programs, etc.
  • Accessibility of parent(s)/guardian(s) – location of applicant’s parent(s) or guardian(s) and their accessibility for institutions and/or medical centres to contact them in case of emergency situations.
  • Informal arrangements – whether arrangements (less formal than custodianship) have been made to provide support and care for the minor student.
  • Risk environment – applicant’s safety and well being in relation to risk indicators for irregular child migration, and potential for exploitation and/or trafficking.

3. Electronic Application System

The electronic application system has been modified to implement the above policy change. Applicants wishing to extend their student status in Canada and overseas study permit applicants under the Visa Exempt Study Permit Abroad (VESPA) pilot project will be required to provide the custodianship declaration if they are under the age of 17 at the time of their application. Those applicants who are between 17 and the age of majority, at the time of application, will still be asked if they will be living with their parent(s) or legal guardian(s) while in Canada; however, they will not be asked to provide the custodianship declaration. Officers may request the custodianship declaration of any applicant at their discretion.

4. Minor students destined for Quebec

Minor students destined for Quebec must continue to apply for and be approved for a Certificat d’acceptation du Quebec (CAQ) before entering Canada. Those under 18 years of age require a custodianship in order to obtain a CAQ. For more information, visit

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