Posted on - May 09, 2017

By Catherine Sas Q.C.

One of the leading immigration platforms of the Liberal government’s 2015 election campaign was to restore the age of dependant children to “under the age of 22”. The previous Conservative government had reduced the age for sponsoring dependant children to under the age of 19 – which in plain language means 18 or younger –  as of August 1, 2014.  This left immigrant families having to make the difficult choice of leaving young adult children in their home countries. The Liberals announced this proposed change on October 29, 2016 to allow for public commentary.  On May 3, 2017, our current Immigration Minister, formally introduced the increased age for dependents, commenting as follows:  

“Raising the age of dependents 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.”

– The Honorable Ahmed Hussein, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

While the announcement of the increased age limit is welcome, it will not be made effective until later this year on October 24, 2017.  Furthermore, it is not retroactive which means that the law will stay as it is until October.  For applicants with pending applications, they are able to add their dependents aged 19-21 (at the time that they first applied) to their applications in advance of the changes coming into force by asking for consideration on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. However, applicants are cautioned that this may delay the processing of the overall application for all family members.

For recent immigrants who were not able to include their children aged 19-21 as dependents in their permanent resident applications, they will now able to sponsor them as members of the Family Class when the new regulations come into force on October 24.  

This announcement is welcome news for immigrant families and is in keeping with Canada’s longstanding policy of re-uniting family members. 


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