Age limit and requirements for dependent children

To qualify as a dependant, your child must be within the age limit and meet the requirements of a dependent child.

Definition of dependent children with new age limit

The age limit of dependent children has changed from “under 19” to “under 22.”

Children qualify as dependants if they meet both of these requirements:

  • they’re under 22 years old, and
  • they don’t have a spouse or partner

Dependants over the age limit

Children 22 years old or older qualify as dependants if they meet both of these requirements:

  • they have depended on their parents for financial support since before the age of 22, and
  • they are unable to financially support themselves because of a mental or physical condition

See the previous definitions of dependent children.

How to find out if your child qualifies as a dependant – applications for permanent residence (immigrate)

Follow these two steps to find out if your child qualifies as a dependant:

1. Check the lock-in date for your program or category.

We assess your child’s eligibility as a dependant based on how old they were at a specific point in time, called the lock-in date. To see if your child qualifies as a dependant, we only consider the age of your child on the lock-in date, even though your child’s age may change during processing.

  • For most programs, your child’s lock-in date is the date when we receive your complete application for permanent residence.
  • Some programs are completed in several steps and your child’s age is locked in before you submit your complete application for permanent residence.

See age lock-in dates by immigration or category.

2. Make sure your child meets the age limit and requirements before including them as a dependant on your application.

See the list of requirements in force for dependants if we received your complete application for permanent residence:

Note: If your child’s age was locked in on or before July 31, 2014, your child must meet the requirements that were in force at that time, regardless of when you submit your application for permanent residence.

Remember, during processing:

  • Your child’s age may pass the age limit. We only use the age of your child on the lock-in date to assess your child’s eligibility.
  • Your child must continue to meet all the other requirements of the definition of a dependant that applies to your application until we finish processing your application.

You can use our online tool to check if your child qualifies as a dependant by answering a few questions.

See the examples below to better understand how to determine if your child qualifies as a dependant using the lock-in date and the date when we receive the complete application for permanent residence.

Example 1

Lise is applying to sponsor her partner, Juan, and his son Mateo under the spousal sponsorship program. We received Lise’s sponsorship application and Juan and Mateo’s application for permanent residence on November 1, 2017. On that date, Mateo was 19 years old, and single (he was not married and not in a common-law relationship).

Based on this scenario:

  • Lock-in date for Mateo’s age is November 1, 2017. For the spousal sponsorship program, we use the date when we receive the complete application for permanent residence as the lock-in date.
  • On lock-in date, Mateo is 19 years old. This is the age we’ll use to determine his eligibility.
  • On the date we received the application for permanent residence, the definition of a dependent child was the one that came into force on October 24, 2017.

Mateo qualifies as a dependant because:

  • his age (19 years old) on the lock-in date (November 1, 2017), is within the age limit that was in force when we received his application for permanent residence, and
  • Mateo meets the other requirements of the definition (he is not married or in a common-law relationship)

If, during processing, Mateo’s marital status changes, he could become ineligible to immigrate to Canada with his father.

Example 2

Tobogo wants to immigrate to Alberta with his daughter Lailah under the Provincial Nominee Program. The province of Alberta received Tobogo’s complete provincial nomination application on July 17, 2016.  On that date, Lailah was 21.

Based on this scenario:

  • Lock-in date for Lailah’s age is July 17, 2016. For the Provincial Nominee Program, we use the date when the province or territory receives the complete provincial nominee application as the lock-in date.
  • On the lock-in date, Lailah is 21 years old. This is the age we’ll use to determine her eligibility, regardless if her age changes during processing.
  • The age limit that was in force when we received Tobogo’s application for permanent residence was “under 19.”
  • On October 24, 2017, the age limit for dependants was changed to “under 22.”

Lailah qualifies as a dependant because:

  • Though her age (21 years old) on the lock-in date (July 17, 2016) was above the age limit that was in force when we received Tobogo’s application for permanent residence, her age is within the new age limit that came into force on October 24, 2017.
  • Lailah meets the other requirements of the definition (she is not married or in a common-law relationship).
  • When Tobogo submitted his application for permanent residence, he did not include Lailah as an accompanying dependant since her age on lock-in date was over the age limit.
  • Tobogo can now add Lailah to his pending application as an accompanying dependant because we have a Public Policy in place to allow qualifying dependants such as Lailah to be added to existing applications.
  • Tobogo can also sponsor Lailah when he becomes a permanent resident. Our Public Policy allows for qualifying dependants such as Lailah to be sponsored even if they are over the age limit.
  • To add Lailah to his application as an accompanying dependant, or to sponsor Lailah, Tobogo will have to notify us by January 31, 2018.

Find out more about:

How to find out if your child qualifies as a dependant – applications for temporary residence (work, study, visit)

Your dependant must meet the age limit and requirements in force at the time we receive your temporary residence application.

See the list of requirements in force for dependants if we received your visitor visa, study permit or work permit application:

Your dependent children must complete their own application forms. For example, they must apply for their own visitor visa or study or work permit.

You and your dependent children may:

Lock-in dates by immigration program or category

Use the chart below to find out when your child’s age is locked in.

Program or category

Family Class

  • Spouse, Common-law, Conjugal Partner, or
  • Dependent Child
  • Spouse or Common-law Partner in Canada
  • Adopted Child or Child to be Adopted
  • Orphaned Relative under 18 years of age
  • Other Relative

Lock-in date

The date we receive your complete application for permanent residence.

Family Class - Parents and Grandparents

The date we receive your complete application for permanent residence, together with the sponsorship application.

Note: For applications received before November 5, 2011, the lock-in date is the date on which we receive your complete sponsorship application.

Federal Economic Class

  • Federal Skilled Worker
  • Federal Skilled Trade
  • Canadian Experience Class
  • Atlantic Immigration Pilot
  • Start-up Business
  • Immigrant Investor Venture Capital pilot
  • Self-employed

The date we receive your complete application for permanent residence.

Humanitarian and Compassionate

The date we receive your complete application for permanent residence.

Privately-sponsored Refugee

The date we receive your complete application for permanent residence.

Provincial Nominee Program

The date the applicable provincial or territorial authority receives your complete application for provincial nomination.

Quebec Economic Categories

  • Skilled worker
  • Immigrant investor
  • Entrepreneur
  • Self-employed

The date Quebec receives your complete application for a Certificat de sélection du Québec (Quebec Selection Certificate).

Quebec Distressful Situations

The date Quebec receives your complete application for a Certificat de sélection du Québec (Quebec Selection Certificate).

Quebec Collective Refugee Sponsorships

The date Quebec receives your complete application for a Certificat de sélection du Québec (Quebec Selection Certificate).

Live-in Caregiver Program

The date we receive your complete initial Live-in Caregiver Program work permit application.

Caring for Children Program
Caring for People with High Medical Needs

The date we receive your complete application for permanent residence.

Refugee Selected Abroad

The date we receive your referral from the refugee referral organization.

Family Member Who Does Not Accompany a Protected Person (“One Year Window”)

The date we receive a complete application for permanent residence from the principal applicant accepted as a refugee abroad. (Must be within one year of the date the principal applicant acquired Protected Person status.)

Protected Persons (In-Canada Refugee Claimants)

The date we (IRCC) or the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) receive your complete refugee claim.

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