THE federal government announced on Wednesday that it has published regulatory changes to increase the maximum age of a dependent child which will allow more families to stay together.
The new age limit of ‘under 22’ will come into effect this fall, on October 24, raising it from the current ‘under 19’ requirement. The increased age will apply to new applications for all immigration programs under Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, including for refugees. Children who are 22 years of age or older and who rely on their parents due to a physical or mental health condition will continue to be considered dependent children.
Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, said: “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.”
The government said that a higher age limit will have more positive social and cultural impacts by keeping families together. It will also better address humanitarian and safety concerns by enabling more family members of refugees to qualify as dependants. 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.
The government said that family reunification is one of its key immigration commitments and it has made a number of important changes to uphold this commitment. Regulations were recently published to eliminate 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 program 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.
* The change is consistent with the global socioeconomic trend for children to stay home longer, including pursuing 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.
* 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.