Dependent children

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

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Who qualifies as a dependent child

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) officers must review and assess information provided in the application package or accessible in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) to do all of the following:

  • identify which lock-in procedure or regulation applies
  • determine the child’s locked-in age
  • determine if a child included in the application meets an applicable definition of a dependent child
  • determine which fees to apply

If the dependent child does not meet the current definition, officers must determine whether they should be processed under the definition of “dependent child” that applied between August 1, 2014, and October 23, 2017, or under transitional provisions implemented with the pre-August 1, 2014, amendment.

Age and level of dependency

As of October 24, 2017, to meet paragraph (b) of the definition of “dependent child” under section R2, a child must be in one of the following situations:

  • under 22 years of age and not a spouse or common-law partner
  • 22 years of age or older, have depended substantially on the financial support of the parent since before the age of 22 and be unable to support themselves financially due to a physical or mental condition (it is the financial dependency that must have been ongoing since before the age of 22. It is not necessary for the physical or mental condition to have existed before the age of 22.)

Dependent children who do not have a physical or mental condition must remain unmarried and not in a common-law relationship for the duration of processing, up until the point of becoming a permanent resident.

A dependant who is single, divorced or widowed, whose marriage has been annulled or who is no longer in a common-law relationship at the time of the initial receipt of the application is considered to meet the definition of a dependent child and must continue to meet the definition of a dependent child for the duration of processing.

For all applications received on or after October 24, 2017, this definition applies when an officer is determining whether a child qualifies as a dependant, and any reference to “dependent child” in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and its Regulations (IRPR) should be interpreted in terms of the new definition.

Learn about the two previous definitions of dependent children, which applied from August 1, 2014, to October 23, 2017, and before August 1, 2014.

Note: An amendment has been made to correct an inadvertent omission in the transitional provisions for the August 1, 2014, amendment, to include a dependent child who made an application as a principal applicant as a member of the family class on or before July 31, 2014.

Relationship between a parent and a dependent child

A dependent child is either a biological child or an adopted child of a parent [R2(a)]. The term “biological child” has been interpreted to include children in any one of the following situations:

  • was born to the parent making the application
  • is not genetically related to the parent making the application, but was born to the person who, at the time of the birth of the child, was that parent's spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner
  • was born through the application of assisted human reproduction technologies

Acceptable proof of a biological relationship between a child and a parent is a birth certificate or baptismal certificate.

The section R2 definition allows for a child born through assisted human reproduction technologies, such as in vitro fertilization, to be recognized as a dependent child, provided the female spouse or partner gave birth to the child and that it is consistent with Canadian family law, under which the spouse or common-law partner of the birth parent is usually presumed to be the other legal parent even if there is no genetic relationship to the child.

In these cases, documents suitable for establishing parent-child relationships are birth certificates or other documents, as well as authorized evidence indicating that the person claiming to be the parent is the birth mother or the spouse or common-law partner of the birth mother at the time of birth. Evidence must also indicate that the parents availed themselves of assisted human reproduction technologies.

If the child was born from a surrogacy arrangement in a foreign country and is legally the child of the sponsor or their spouse or partner in that jurisdiction, the child may be a “biological child” if there is also a genetic parent-child relationship. If there is no genetic or gestational link to the sponsor or their spouse or partner, the child is not a biological child. The officer may consider granting permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, but caution should be used to mitigate the risk that the child was purchased or trafficked.

Lock-in age of dependent children for immigration applications

The age of a dependent child, accompanying or non-accompanying, is locked in on the application’s received date. For family class applications, the age of a dependent child is locked in on the date of receipt of the principal applicant’s complete permanent residence application. A complete permanent residence application contains all of the items in the document checklist for the specific category, which includes proof of payment of the correct processing fees.

A child who is less than 22 years of age and not a spouse or common-law partner at the time of “age lock-in” continues to be a dependent child even if they turn 22 during the processing of the application, as long as they are still unmarried and not in a common-law relationship when permanent residence is confirmed. (Less than 22 years means up to and including the last day before the child's 22nd birthday).

A child who is 22 or over and dependent on their parent(s) due to a physical or mental condition is eligible to be processed as a dependant. However, they must continue to be dependent when a final decision is made on the application and when permanent residence in Canada is confirmed.

For permanent residence applications received between August 1, 2014, and October 23, 2017, the “under 19” definition applies. For permanent residence applications received before August 1, 2014, transitional provisions allow for the pre-August 1, 2014, definition of a dependent child to be applied. For family class applications, the age of a dependent child is locked in on the date of receipt of the principal applicant’s complete permanent residence application.

Dependent child lock-in dates by immigrant category

Provided it meets completeness requirements, an application is deemed to be received on the day it is submitted electronically or, for paper applications, on the day it is date-stamped by the IRCC office designated for the intake of applications for the applicable program or category.

The following tables provide information to determine when a dependent child’s age is locked in for each immigration category, whether this can vary based on application date, and what indicators to look for.

Family class, humanitarian and compassionate, federal economic class

Age lock-in date Where to find this information
Date IRCC receives a complete application for permanent residence from the principal applicant (for parents and grandparents, this applies only to applications received on or after January 1, 2014) GCMS: Date permanent residence application received
Date IRCC receives a complete sponsorship application from the sponsor (for parent and grandparent applications submitted before November 5, 2011) GCMS: Date sponsorship application received

Privately sponsored refugees

Age lock-in date Where to find this information
Date IRCC receives a complete application for permanent residence, together with a complete sponsorship undertaking GCMS: Date permanent residence application received

Public policy (A25.2)

Age lock-in date Where to find this information
Date IRCC receives a complete application for permanent residence from the principal applicant, unless otherwise specified in the public policy (check the specific public policy for details) GCMS: Date permanent residence application received

Provincial nominee program

Age lock-in date Where to find this information
Date the province or territory receives the principal applicant’s complete nomination application, if received on or after August 1, 2014 GCMS: Date provincial or territorial nomination application received Provincial or territorial confirmation of nomination letter: Date application received (“Date of Application” column on the provincial and territorial nomination spreadsheet that the province or territory sends to IRCC each month)
Date IRCC receives the principal applicant’s complete permanent residence application, if received before August  1, 2014 GCMS: Date permanent residence application received

Quebec economic categories and Quebec distressful situations

Age lock-in date Where to find this information
Date Quebec receives a complete application for a Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ) from the principal applicant Date on the principal applicant’s “Quebec Form 6” (F06)

Quebec collective refugee sponsorship

Age lock-in date Where to find this information
Date Quebec receives a complete undertaking application from the sponsors Date on the “Quebec Undertaking–Collective Sponsorship Form”

Live-in Caregiver Program

Age lock-in date Where to find this information
Date IRCC receives a complete initial Live-in Caregiver Program work permit application from the principal applicant abroad, for applications received on or after August 1, 2014 GCMS: Date initial work permit application under the Live-in Caregiver Program received
Date IRCC receives a complete application for permanent residence from the principal applicant, for applications received before August 1, 2014 GCMS: Date permanent residence application received

Caring for children class and caring for people with high medical needs class

Age lock-in Where to find this information
Date IRCC receives a complete permanent residence application from the principal applicant GCMS: Date permanent residence application received

Government-assisted refugees

Age lock-in date Where to find this information
Date IRCC receives the referral of the principal applicant from the refugee referral organization GCMS: Date “Resettlement Registration Form”received
Date IRCC receives a complete application for permanent residence from the principal applicant GCMS: Date permanent residence application received

Family members who do not accompany protected persons (“one-year window”)

Age lock-in Where to find this information
Date IRCC receives a complete application for permanent residence from the principal applicant accepted as a refugee abroad (family member may apply within one year of the date the principal applicant becomes a permanent resident as a protected person) GCMS: Date permanent residence application received

In-Canada refugee claimants who have acquired protected person status

Age lock-in date Where to find this information
Date IRCC or the Canada Border Services Agency receives the refugee claim from the principal applicant, for applications on or after August 1, 2014 GCMS: Date of issue of “Refugee Protection Claimant Document”
Date IRCC receives a complete application for permanent residence from the principal applicant, for applications received before August 1, 2014 GCMS: Date permanent residence application received

Accompanying dependent children of applicants under the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class

For purposes of in-Canada processing, accompanying dependent children are children listed on the application who are applying for permanent residence and either reside in Canada or reside outside Canada but will join the applicant if permanent resident status is received.

Dependent children of spouses, common-law partners and conjugal partners

For applications of spouses, common-law partners or conjugal partners, both overseas and in-Canada (spouse or common-law partner in Canada class) with accompanying dependent children overseas, an in-Canada office as the primary office will do all of the following:

  • electronically issue medical instructions for the dependants via the principal applicant
  • contact the principal applicant to request any missing civil documents or police certificates for overseas dependants
  • add the responsible visa office as a secondary office and upload police certificates, birth certificates, adoption orders and other civil documents, including documentation relating to custody and guardianship, into GCMS
  • after uploading all documentation required to conduct an assessment, send an email to the visa office asking them to examine the family members
  • monitor GCMS to determine if the visa office has completed the assessment
  • make a final decision about the eligibility and admissibility of the primary applicant and dependent child after the visa office completes its analysis
  • send a “ready for visa” letter on the visa office’s letterhead to the dependant—or their representative—instructing them to submit a passport-sized photograph and (if a visa is required) their passport to the visa office
  • in GCMS, enter a final decision for the applicant and accompanying family members and ensure that the controlled document record is in the correct print queue to allow the visa office to create the Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) and, if applicable, a visa counterfoil

As the secondary office, the visa office will do the following upon receipt of the dependant’s passport and/or photo:

  • verify and update passport and client information
  • generate, print and issue the COPR and, if applicable, a visa counterfoil

For non-accompanying dependent children overseas, a processing office in Canada will assess their admissibility (medical and, where necessary, criminality and security) and contact the principal applicant directly with instructions or to request additional information. If an officer in Canada requires local knowledge to evaluate admissibility, they will send an email to the visa office to request the information. Visa offices do not examine non-accompanying dependent children.

Custody issues: dependent children

Applicants who have included in their application children who are subject to custody orders must provide proof that they are allowed to remove the children from the area of jurisdiction of the court. The parent or legal guardian overseas must provide written consent for the child to travel to Canada for the purposes of becoming a permanent resident. A court order is acceptable in cases where that person is unwilling to provide consent.

In cases where the sponsor is not the legal parent of an applicant’s dependent child, the applicant must submit a completed “Declaration from non-accompanying parent/guardian for minors immigrating to Canada” form [IMM 5604 (PDF, 609 KB) (PDF, 609.23KB)] for each applicable child.

Sponsorship of a dependent child who was not previously examined

All family members, whether they are accompanying the principal applicant or not, must be declared on the application and must be examined.

Under paragraph R117(9)(d), a child who was a non-accompanying family member of a permanent residence applicant and who was not examined as part of their parent’s application is ineligible to be processed as a member of the family class. However, if an application from a parent was received between August 1, 2014, and October 23, 2017, any child who was 19 or over was not defined as a dependent child and was therefore not required to be examined at that time, unless there was a lock-in provision.

On or after October 24, 2017, permanent residents may submit a family class sponsorship application (category FC3) for a dependent child if the child meets the definition of a dependent child.

Determining dependant type for GCMS coding

When completing the “Generic Application Form for Canada” [IMM 0008] (in question 12 of the “Personal Details” section) or completing an online Express Entry application, an applicant is required to identify the dependant type. Following the August 1, 2014, amendment to the definition of a dependent child, an applicant had to choose 1 of 5 dependant types. As of October 24, 2017, there are 3. The 2 dependant types that were created to facilitate the August 1, 2014, amendment—Type 1 (under 19) and Type 2 (19 or older with a physical or mental condition)—do not apply to applications received on or after October 23, 2017.

The following dependant types are now in effect:

Type A

The child is under the age of 22, is not married and is not in a common-law relationship. In order to remain a dependant, the child must remain unmarried and not in a common-law relationship from the time the application is submitted until they become a permanent resident.

Note: This dependant type applies to new applications received on or after October 24, 2017, as well as to applications received before August 1, 2014

Type B

The child has been continuously enrolled in or attending full-time studies at a post-secondary institution and has depended substantially on the financial support of a parent in either of the following cases:

  • since before turning 22
  • since marrying or entering into a common-law relationship before turning 22

Note: This dependant type applies only to children whose age was locked in before August 1, 2014, based on a transitional provision specific to the amendment to the definition of a dependent child that came into force on that date.

Type C

The child is 22 years of age or older, has depended substantially on the financial support of a parent since before the age of 22 and is unable to be financially self-supporting due to a physical or mental condition.

Note: This dependant type applies to new applications received on or after October 24, 2017.

For applications received by IRCC on or after October 24, 2017, but completed and submitted before that date, applicants may have selected Type 1 or Type 2. In such cases, officers will need to ensure GCMS reflects the applicable codes:

  • Where the applicant selected dependant type 1, enter dependant type A
  • Where the applicant selected type 2, enter dependant type C

Fees

For record purposes, officers must enter any additional details for explanation or clarification of fees, as appropriate, in the GCMS notes.

Permanent residents

The range of permanent resident fees for dependent children is based on the dependant type.

Permanent resident fees

Dependant type Description Fee
Type A Child under 22 who is unmarried and not in a common-law relationship and who is sponsored as a principal applicant (does not include sponsorship fee) $75
Type A Child under 22 who is unmarried and not in a common-law relationship and who is accompanying a parent $150
Type B Child 22 or older who is a full-time student and is accompanying a parent (Note: Applicable only when the child is eligible under transitional provisions implemented when the age of a dependent child was amended on August 1, 2014) $550
Type C Child 22 or older who is unable to be financially self-supporting due to a physical or mental condition and who is sponsored as a principal applicant (does not include sponsorship fee) $475
Type C Child 22 or older, who is unable to be financially self-supporting due to a physical or mental condition, who is accompanying a parent $150

Note: Protected persons abroad, including non-accompanying dependants who apply under the one-year window provision, are fee-exempt.

Temporary residents

Children who meet the new definition of a dependent child are eligible to be included in the family rates for the following:

  • a temporary resident visa
  • the accompanying biometric fee

Children 22 or over must pay the fee separately, unless they are dependent based on a mental or physical condition.

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