Canada to benefit economically and socially by increasing the age of dependants


Updated on June 9, 2017

Immigrants select countries based on a number of considerations, including whether families can stay together when they emigrate. The Government of Canada’s commitment to family reunification recognizes that when immigrant and refugee families are able to remain together, their integration into Canada and their ability to work and contribute to their communities improve.

A higher age for dependants better aligns with two of the main objectives of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act which are to see that families are reunited in Canada, and to support the self-sufficiency and social and economic well-being of refugees through family reunification.

The definition of a dependent child in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations is used to determine whether a child is eligible to immigrate as a family member of the principal applicant in all immigration and refugee programs, or may be sponsored as a principal applicant through the family class.

Currently, the age limit of a dependent child according to the Regulations is “under 19”. The higher age limit of “under 22” will come into force on October 24, 2017 when the regulatory change will be formally implemented. The new higher age limit will apply to permanent residence applications received on or after this date. For applicants who submitted a permanent residence application between August 1, 2014, and October 23, 2017, the current “under 19” definition of a dependent child applies.

Once the regulatory change comes into force, those who have a dependent child who meet the new “under 22” definition can sponsor him/her under the family class. Dependants who are 22 years of age or older and who are unable to support themselves due to a physical or mental condition would continue to be eligible as a dependant.

A higher age limit is consistent with the global socioeconomic trend for children to stay home longer, including to pursue post-secondary education. The increased age will allow older immigrant children, aged 19 to 21, to study in Canada and boost the pool of post-secondary students for Canadian universities and colleges, as well as the pool of employees once these individuals graduate with a Canadian education, and contribute to Canada’s economy.

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