Last week on October 24, 2017, the new definition of ‘dependent child’ came into effect. Under the new definition, a dependent child is defined as a child who is under 22 years old and does not have a spouse or partner. Prior to October 24, the definition was a child who is under 19 years old and does not have a spouse or partner.

This change is meant to encourage more families to come to Canada by reflecting the “global trend of children living at home for longer periods.” The dependent age had been lowered from under 22 years old to under 19 years old on August 1, 2014. However, that change was at odds with both the global trend and the goal of family reunification which is enshrined in Canada’s immigration laws. As a result, the government has decided to bring back the under 22 definition.

Under the pre-August 2014 rules, the definition of a dependent child also included children 22 years old and older who were dependent on their parents before the age of 22 and are full-time students. While IRCC has decided to raise the dependent age again, it has not brought back this full-time student exception.

The decision to not bring back this exception shows that IRCC is still not fully in-step with the reality that many young adults are still in school when they are 22 years or older, and are still very much dependent on their parents. Without work experience, these young adults are not likely to qualify for immigration on their own. This means that Canada could still be missing out on attracting families with educated children, who would be valuable assets to Canada’s future economy.


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