Notice – Changes to the definition of a dependent child

August 1, 2014 – UPDATE— Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s (CIC) definition of a dependent child has changed.

The age at which a child will be considered a dependant has been reduced from under 22 to under 19.

The exception for full-time students has been removed. Applicants’ children who are 19 or over but are financially dependent on their parents and are enrolled in full-time studies are no longer eligible to be processed as dependent children.

In all cases, a child will continue to be considered a dependant, regardless of age, if they have depended substantially on their parents for financial support since before the age of 19 and are unable to be financially self-supporting because of a mental or physical condition.

New application kits, forms and fee information are available on CIC’s website.

All permanent residence applications received by CIC before August 1, 2014, will continue to benefit from the pre-amendment definition of dependent child.

Reducing the age for dependants to under 19 in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) will bring the IRPR in line with provincial definitions of “age of majority,” which is currently evenly split between 18 and 19 across provinces and territories.

Young adults will be able to apply to come to Canada on their own merits as foreign students or through various economic programs.

Transitional measures are in place to allow certain applicants under multi-step permanent resident immigration programs who are in the immigration process before August 1, 2014, but who had not yet submitted their application for permanent residence, to have their applications completed based on the previous definition of dependent child.

These transitional measures apply to certain members of the following groups, including:

  • Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) applicants;
  • Applicants who have applied under one of Quebec’s economic programs;
  • Live-in caregivers;
  • Refugees abroad and refugee claimants;
  • Quebec humanitarian cases;
  • Parents or grandparents whose sponsorship applications were received before November 5, 2011; and
  • Privately sponsored refugees whose sponsorship applications were received before October 18, 2012.

In addition, effective August 1, 2014, to ensure that children who meet the definition of dependent child at the first stage of a multi-step permanent resident immigration program remain eligible throughout what can be a multi-year process, the child’s age will be “locked in” at the first formal step of the immigration process, except for those that benefit from a transitional provision. For example, the age of a child whose parent applies to the PNP will be “locked in” on the date that the application for nomination is made to the province.

The regulatory package was published in the Canada Gazette, Part II on June 18, 2014, and can be found on their website.

For more information on the change in the definition of a dependent child, including related changes and their implications, see CIC’s website.

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