Canadian Immigration Update: Dependent Children Age Limit to be Raised to 22 in late 2017

Amendments to the age at which a Dependent Child may emigrate to Canada.

Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (Age of Dependent Children)

Statutory authority

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

Sponsoring department

Department of Citizenship and Immigration

REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT

(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)

Issues

The Government of Canada has established as a priority for the immigration program the goal of family reunification, which is about giving family members the opportunity to live with or near each other, instead of being separated by borders and long distances. It is recognized that many young adults remain with their parents for a longer period of time. Given the importance placed on education, it is not unusual for some children to remain with their nuclear family while pursuing higher education before entering the labour market. The current definition of “dependent child” in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (the Regulations) is limited to persons less than 19 years of age and is therefore too restrictive.

Background

The definition of “dependent child” in the Regulations is used to determine whether a child may be eligible to immigrate as a family member of a principal applicant in all immigration classes (economic, family and refugee/humanitarian), as well as a principal applicant who may be sponsored in the family class immigration program.

Under the current Regulations, a “dependent child,” in respect of a parent, is a biological or adopted child and is in one of the following situations of dependency, namely

  • (i) is less than 19 years of age and is not a spouse or common-law partner, or
  • (ii) is 19 years of age or older and has depended substantially on the financial support of the parent since before the age of 19, and is unable to be financially self-supporting due to a physical or mental condition.

The definition of “dependent child” has evolved over the years. From June 28, 2002, to July 31, 2014, the eligibility age of a dependent child was under 22 years, provided that they were not a spouse or common-law partner. This age limit was intended to reflect the trend of children staying longer at home with their parents, such as those studying full-time for lengthier periods and hence remaining during that time in a situation of dependency. Based on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) administrative data, between 2002 and 2014, dependent children represented, on average, 28% of all immigration applications approved annually (approximately 72 000 per year). Of these dependent children, approximately 11% were 19 years of age or older: 7% were between 19 and 21 years of age and 4% were 22 years of age or older.

Effective August 1, 2014, the age limit for dependent children was reduced from under 22 to under 19 years of age. This regulatory amendment was intended to enhance the economic integration of immigrant dependent children and was informed by evidence that older immigrants have a more challenging time fully integrating into the Canadian labour market, which was considered more evident for immigrants who are not selected solely for their economic potential.

Objectives

A primary objective of this regulatory amendment would be to enhance family unity and reunification by enabling Canadians and permanent residents to bring their young adult children between 19 and 21 years of age to Canada. This is consistent with one of the main stated objectives of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act: “to see that families are reunited in Canada.”

The proposed changes would also correct outstanding technical errors inadvertently made in the Regulations pertaining to dependent children, namely

  • A grammar error in the French definition of “dependent child”; and
  • An error in the August 2014 amendment’s transitional provisions that results in the unintentional exclusion of in-process applications (filed before August 1, 2014) for dependent children, who are themselves principal applicants, from being eligible under the pre-amendment definition. The current wording of this transitional provision unintentionally limits its scope to dependent children of adult immigrant applicants, as opposed to including child principal applicants who are sponsored by their Canadian citizen or permanent resident parents.

Description

This proposal would amend the definition of “dependent child” in the Regulations from “less than 19 years of age” to “less than 22 years of age,” thereby increasing the maximum age of dependent children.

Related amendments would be made to other sections of the Regulations, specifically those concerning fees, sponsorship duration, and residency obligations, to ensure consistency with the intention of those provisions, in line with the new definition of “dependent child.”

The proposal would correct a reference from “dependant child” to “dependent child” in the French definition.

The proposal would also correct the transitional provision of the August 1, 2014, “dependent child” regulatory amendment to enable dependent children who filed their applications before that date, and are themselves principal applicants, to benefit from the broader pre-amendment definition (as was intended), as of the coming into force of these Regulations.

Rationale

When families are able to remain together as an economic household unit, their integration into Canada and their ability to work and contribute to their communities all improve. The proposed increase of the maximum age of dependent children is consistent with the underlying socio-economic trend that children remain at home longer with their parents, particularly those studying for lengthier periods. For example, some young adults complete high school at a later age than average. In 2009–2010, while 77% of the population in Canada under 24 years of age completed high school between 18 and 19 years of age, an additional 13% of this population completed high school between 20 and 24 years of age.

Whether studying or not, many young adults in Canada and other countries live with their parents. The 2011 Census found that over half of all young adults from 20 to 24 years of age lived with their parents (63.3% of young men and 55.2% of young women). This proportion has increased in recent decades, particularly for young women, rising from 33% in 1981 to 55.2% in 2011. Similarly, in the United States, more young adults, particularly women, are living with family longer than in the past.

An increase to the upper age limit of the “dependent child” definition would therefore more closely align Canada’s immigration programs with the Canadian and international experience. Notably, the proposed higher age limit would enable many post-secondary students — who complete a degree at a median age of 24.8 years of age  — to be eligible as dependent children through much of their undergraduate studies. These young adults would be unlikely to be eligible for permanent resident status as principal applicants under an economic immigration program, until they have completed post-secondary education and gained significant work experience.

Implementation, enforcement and service standards

If approved, these Regulations would be anticipated to come into force in fall 2017.

The Department would make the necessary changes to application processing systems, and would issue program delivery instructions to inform staff, including immigration officers, of the amended age limit. The public and stakeholders would be informed of these changes.

For applicants who submit a permanent resident application on or after the coming-into-force date, the new definition of “dependent child” would apply.

PROPOSED REGULATORY TEXT

Notice is given that the Governor in Council, pursuant to subsections 5(1) and 14(2) , section 32 and subsection 89(1)  of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act , proposes to make the annexed Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (Age of Dependent Children).

Interested persons may make representations concerning the proposed Regulations within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. All such representations must cite the Canada Gazette, Part I, and the date of publication of this notice, and be addressed to David Cashaback, Director, Social Immigration Policy and Programs, Immigration Branch, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (email: IRCC.AgeofDependentChild-Enfantacharge.IRCC@cic.gc.ca).

Ottawa, October 20, 2016

Jurica Čapkun
Assistant Clerk of the Privy Council

Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (Age of Dependent Children)

Amendments

1 Subparagraphs (b)(i) and (ii) of the definition dependent child in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations  are replaced by the following:

  • (i)is less than 22 years of age and is not a spouse or common-law partner, or
  • (ii)is 22 years of age or older and has depended substantially on the financial support of the parent since before attaining the age of 22 years and is unable to be financially self-supporting due to a physical or mental condition. (enfant à charge)

2 Subsection 61(6) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

Child

(6) For the purposes of subparagraphs 28(2)(a)(ii) and (iv) of the Act, child means a child who is not a spouse or common-law partner and is less than 22 years of age.

3 (1) Subparagraphs 132(1)(b)(ii) and (iii) of the Regulations are replaced by the following:

  • (ii)if the foreign national is a dependent child of the sponsor or of the sponsor’s spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner, or is a person referred to in paragraph 117(1)(g), and is less than 22 years of age on the day on which he or she becomes a permanent resident, on the earlier of
    • (A)the last day of the period of 10 years following the day on which the foreign national becomes a permanent resident, and
    • (B)the day on which the foreign national attains 25 years of age,
  • (iii)if the foreign national is a dependent child of the sponsor or of the sponsor’s spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner and is 22 years of age or older on the day on which he or she becomes a permanent resident, on the last day of the period of three years following the day on which the foreign national becomes a permanent resident,

(2) The portion of paragraph 132(2)(b) of the Regulations before subparagraph (ii) is replaced by the following:

  • (b)if the foreign national is a dependent child of the sponsor or of the sponsor’s spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner, or is a person referred to in paragraph 117(1)(g), and is less than 22 years of age on the day on which he or she becomes a permanent resident, the later of
    • (i)the day on which the foreign national attains 22 years of age, and

(3) Paragraph 132(2)(c) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

  • (c)if the foreign national is a dependent child of the sponsor or of the sponsor’s spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner and is 22 years of age or older on the day on which he or she becomes a permanent resident, on the last day of the period of 10 years following the day on which the foreign national becomes a permanent resident;

(4) The portion of subsection 132(4) of the Regulations before paragraph (a) is replaced by the following:

Agreement

(4) Subject to paragraph 137(c), if the person is to be sponsored as a member of the family class or of the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class and is 22 years of age or older, or is less than 22 years of age and is the sponsor’s spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner, the sponsor, the co-signer, if any, and the person must, before the sponsorship application is approved, enter into a written agreement that includes

4 Subparagraph 295(1)(a)(ii) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

  • (ii)in respect of a principal applicant who is a foreign national referred to in any of paragraphs 117(1)(b), (f), (g) or (h), is less than 22 years of age and is not a spouse or common-law partner, $75,

Transitional Provisions

5 (1) The definition dependent child in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, as it read on July 31, 2014, applies in respect of a dependent child who made an application as a principal applicant for a permanent resident visa as a member of the family class on or before that date.

(2) Section 25.1 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations does not apply in respect of a dependent child referred to in subsection (1).

6 Section 132 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, as it read immediately before the day on which these Regulations come into force, continues to apply in respect of a sponsor’s undertaking arising from a sponsorship application made before that day.

Coming into Force

7 These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.

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