Maximum age of dependent children increased by Canadian immigration

by Ray Clancy on May 11, 2017

The maximum age at which a child is considered a dependent for immigration purposes in Canada is being increased to under 22 from under 19.

The Government says that the regulatory changes will allow more families to stay together and help with commitment to family reunification.

Canada Immigrants

(Markus Mainka/

The new age limit of will apply to new applications for all immigration programme while those aged 22 or older who rely on their parents due to a physical or mental health condition will continue to be considered dependent children.

Officials believe that a higher age limit will have more positive social and cultural impacts by keeping families together and will also better address humanitarian and safety concerns by enabling more family members of refugees to qualify as dependants.

Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, also said that increasing the age limit will also help to enhance Canada’s economy by making it a destination of choice for skilled immigrants who want to keep their families together.

He pointed out that the change is consistent with global socio economic trends for children to stay home longer, including to pursue their post-secondary education. The change would allow older immigrant children, aged 19 to 21, to study in Canada thereby boosting the pool of applicants from which Canadian post-secondary schools can draw talented students. Upon graduation, these individuals would be equipped with a Canadian education and be able to contribute to Canada’s economy.

Other recent changes include getting rid of the conditional permanent residence measure in recognition that most marriages are genuine and to reduce the vulnerability of spouses in the immigration program.

Access to the parent and grandparent programme was improved with changes to the 2017 application process to make it fairer and more transparent. In 2016, the number of parent and grandparent sponsorship applications accepted each year for intake was doubled to 10,000 applications, and the Government announced processing times for most sponsored spouses and partners would be reduced to 12 months.

‘Raising the age of dependants lets more families stay together. This will bring economic and social gains to our country as it enhances our attractiveness as a destination of choice for immigrants and refugees,’ added Hussen.

He also said that 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 support the self-sufficiency and social and economic well-being of refugees through family reunification.

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