Posted on - Oct 30, 2017

By Catherine A. Sas Q.C.

Catherine Sas Q.C.

Age for dependent children in Canada’s immigration programs was 18 under Conservatives

The age for dependent children has been restored to under the age of 22 as of October 24, 2017.

This means that applicants for permanent residence to Canada can include their dependent children up to the age of 22 in an application for permanent residence in any of Canada’s immigration programs whether family sponsorship, Express Entry, business immigration, caregiver or refugee applicants.

As noted previously, you can now sponsor your children 21 or younger.

Restoring the age for dependent children to under the age of 22 was one of the Liberal government’s major immigration election platforms in 2015.

This is the second immigration election promise to finally be implemented this month with the changes to the Citizenship eligibility requirements taking effect on October 11.

The age for a dependent child had been under the age of 22 for many years; however on August 1, 2014 the former Conservative government lowered the age of the dependency to 18 or younger, noting that adult children could apply for permanent residence on their own merit.

For many families the inability to include their young adult children in their immigration applications was a deterrent to coming to Canada, as noted by many a Canada immigration lawyer.

This change signifies the Liberal government’s commitment to family re-unification within Canada’s immigration program.

The rationale for restoring the higher age limit is economic and social enhancement of Canadian communities. When introducing this statutory change, the Regulatory Impact Assessment Statement (RIAS) noted that “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 improves.”

The RIAS also made reference to the 2011 Census data which indicated that over half of Canadian young adults aged 20 – 24 live with their parents and further noted that ” whether studying or not, many young adults in Canada and other countries, live with their parents.” Unfortunately, this regulatory change is not retroactive to August 2014. IRCC has declared that making the change retroactive would likely delay processing of current applications.

They have provided some flexibility for considering applications on humanitarian and compassionate (H & C) grounds for adult children excluded from the permanent resident process during this 3-year period.

H & C applications are always determined on a case by case basis and can not be relied upon to result in a positive outcome in all situations. The restoration of the age of dependency up to 22 is positive news for prospective immigrant families as well as for Canada.

A welcome statement from the point of view of this Vancouver immigration lawyer was made by Canada’s Minister of Immigration Ahmed Hussain, “Raising the age of dependents let’s more families stay together. This will bring social and economic gains to our country as it enhances our attractiveness as a destination of choice for immigrants and refugees.”


Catherine Sas, Q.C. is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada. Catherine has been practicing law for over 25 years, and has been voted Vancouver’s Best Immigration Lawyer by the Georgia Straight newspaper for 5 consecutive years.

To learn more about immigrating to Canada, becoming a permanent Canadian resident or bringing your family to Canada, email Catherine Sas or call her at 1-604-689-5444.

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