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The Government, as part of their continued attempt to promote reunification of families, has announced that they intend to increase the age of dependent children. The intended increase would allow applicants with children under the age of 22 to include them as part of their application as dependent children. Currently the age for dependent children had been set at less than 19 years of age.

Prior to 2014, Canada had defined dependent child as “less than 22 years of age” but on August 1, 2014 the definition was changed to only those under 19 years of age. This change was made in part to bring the immigration definition of dependent child in line with the age of majority in Canada, which ranges from 18 to 19 depending on the province. The effect of this change was that children of applicants, who no longer met the definition of dependent child, were then required to submit their own application for permanent residence which would be determined on their own merits.

The current Government announced in March 2016 their intent to restore the age of a dependent child to the previous definition of less than 22 years of age. As of October 2016 they have begun the process to restore the age of dependent children. This proposal has not yet come into effect and if approved would come into force in the fall of 2017.

The proposal to increase the age of a dependent child further reflects the Governments stated objective of making family reunification a priority. Family reunification is listed as a guiding objective of Canada’s immigration legislation, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. As such, this change represents an attempt to ensure that family reunification remains an integral aspect of Canada’s immigration system. The Government’s Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (http://gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/2016/2016-10-29/html/reg2-eng.php) provides that family reunification is a priority as it allows applicants to better integrate into the Canadian community and labour market.

This proposal also reflects the current situation with regard to children in today’s society. While legislation may indicate that children reach the age of majority at the age of 18 in reality many remain dependent on their parents past this age. As such, this proposal helps to acknowledge the trend among children of only becoming independent of their parents at a later period.