Vol. 147, No. 20 — May 18, 2013

Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations

Statutory authority

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

Sponsoring department

Department of Citizenship and Immigration

REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT

(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)

Background

The Government of Canada’s definition of a dependent child has evolved over the years. In 2002, with the introduction of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), the eligibility age of a dependent child was raised from 19 to 22 years of age.

Under the IRPR, one’s child may be in a situation of dependency and therefore fall under the definition of “dependent child” if he or she is under 22 years of age and not a spouse or common law partner. A child who is 22 years of age or older may also be considered a dependent child if that person has depended on the financial support of the parent(s) and has attended school continuously as a full-time student since before the age of 22 (or, if married or in a common-law relationship before that age, since becoming a spouse or common-law partner). Finally, a child who is 22 years of age or older may be considered a dependent child if that person has depended on the financial support of his or her parent(s) since before the age of 22 and is unable to be financially self-supporting due to a physical or mental condition.

Over the past four years, Canada has weathered the global recession well; however, economic stability remains fragile. Accordingly, emphasis on the objectives of IRPA to maximize the economic benefits of immigration and support the development of a strong and prosperous Canadian economy has become more central to the immigration agenda. Significant transformations to Canada’s immigration system are still needed to sustain economic growth, job creation and prosperity. A key element of these transformations is an efficient and effective immigration system focused on Canada’s economic and labour-force needs to attract immigrants who would contribute to the Canadian economy.

The above principles are well reflected in the Economic Action Plan 2012 where the Government cited its immigration priority goals: to fuel economic prosperity, transition to a fast and flexible economic immigration system, and select immigrants that have the skills and experience required to meet Canada’s economic needs. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) recently introduced reforms to the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) which aim to attract and retain qualified immigrants who have the skills and experience to contribute to Canada’s overall economic growth.

Issues and objectives

Dependent children of selected immigrants are admitted on the basis of their relationship to the principal applicant. Dependent children represent 30% of the overall immigrants admitted annually to Canada. Statistics demonstrate that older dependent children (those who arrive between the ages of 19 and 21) have lower economic outcomes than those who arrive in Canada at a younger age (between 15 and 18 years old). (see footnote 1)

Research (see footnote 2) has demonstrated that older immigrants have a more challenging time fully integrating into the Canadian labour market; this is more evident for immigrants who are not selected based on their own merits (e.g. dependent children).

While CIC has tightened the selection criteria of economic migrants over the years, little consideration has been given to the role of younger dependent children, who have better social and economic integration outcomes.

Furthermore, the current allowance for older dependent children who are pursuing full-time studies to accompany principal applicants creates significant challenges and inefficiencies in processing applications. The verification of attendance and enrolment is both labour-intensive and vulnerable to fraud. Processing applications of older children who are full-time students is time-consuming for visa offices because of the need to verify such factors as the nature of the educational institutions, school records, and claims of full-time attendance.

Additionally, the expanded eligibility for full-time students can allow those who are well into their late 20s or even 30s to come to Canada as dependent children, despite weaker integration, and weaker long-term economic performance outcomes. (see footnote 3)

In other words, the current definition of a dependent child for immigration purposes is out of step with the Government of Canada’s objective of selecting migrants who contribute best to Canada’s economic growth and sustainability. Furthermore, this misalignment creates operational inefficiencies.

The primary objective of the proposed amendments is to enhance economic integration of immigrant dependent children to increase Canada’s economic potential. This would be achieved by reducing the maximum age of dependent children to admit those dependent children who are more likely to successfully integrate into the labour market and contribute to the Canadian economy. To further ensure admittance of younger dependent children, the exception to the age limit of dependent children for full-time students would be removed.

This proposal would respond to Government priorities of having an immigration system focused on Canada’s economic and labour force needs. Reducing the age of dependent children would support Canada’s immigration priorities by placing more emphasis on younger immigrants, who integrate more rapidly into the labour market and who would spend a greater number of years contributing to the economy.

With this proposal, younger children, who constitute by far the largest group of dependants, would continue to be admitted as dependants, while older children would have to demonstrate their own integration merits through other Canadian immigration programs. Based on 2012 statistics, dependants under the age of 19 constituted 90% (64 757) of all sponsored children, while those aged 19 and older were 10% (7 237).

A secondary objective of the proposed Regulations would be to increase processing efficiencies and reduce the risk of fraud by removing the current exception to the age limit of dependent children for full-time students. Fraud in the immigration context in school attendance documents is prevalent in some countries, and verification of attendance and enrolment is labour-intensive.

Description

The proposed regulatory amendments would narrow the definition of dependent child by reducing the age limit to under 19 and removing the exception for full-time students.

The limitation in terms of civil status (i.e. that the child must not be a spouse or common-law partner) and the exception for older dependants unable to be financially self-supporting due to a physical or mental condition would be retained.

Consequential amendments to ensure consistency with the proposed definition would be made throughout the IRPR.

Finally, amendments are proposed regarding the fees of overage dependent children. Currently, overage dependent children (22 years of age or older) who are either full-time students or disabled are subject to the same processing fees as spouses and partners of principal applicants. The fee for these overage dependent children is $550, whereas the fee for younger dependants (under 22 years old) is $150. Under the proposed definition, the only overage dependent children (19 years of age or older) would be those financially dependent on their parents due to a physical or mental condition. The proposed amendments would apply the same fee of $150 to all dependent children.

Consultation

In spring 2012, as part of Canada’s Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration hosted a series of multi-city in-person meetings with stakeholders. An online consultation questionnaire was also available for public comment regarding Canada’s Parent and Grandparent Immigration Program.

Amongst differing questions, participants were asked if CIC should redefine the eligibility of family members who accompany parents and grandparents, including their dependent children. There was a general consensus that younger applicants would benefit Canada economically. They could be better able to participate in the labour market and integrate in Canadian society and more likely to support their families.

Limiting sponsorship to principal applicants and their spouses

Respondents from the general public expressed more support for a proposal that would limit sponsorship to principal applicants and their spouses (54% agreed; 34% disagreed) than did stakeholders (38% agreed; 54% disagreed).

“One-for-One” Rule

The “One-for-One” Rule does not apply to this proposal, as there is no change in administrative costs to business.

Small business lens

The small business lens does not apply to this proposal, as there are no costs to small business.

Rationale

Two factors explain the successful economic integration of younger dependants: (1) they receive a Canadian education and later obtain Canadian work experience, which is better recognized by Canadian employers; and (2) they display an increased ability to adjust to a new linguistic and cultural context. (see footnote 4)

Research (see footnote 5) shows that the younger immigrants are when they are granted Canadian permanent residence, the better their long-term labour market outcomes relative to those who immigrate at a later age, and the more closely their experience resembles that of people born in Canada. The earlier in life immigrants arrive, the more their educational experience will resemble that of their Canadian-born counterparts and the easier it will be for them to learn an official language and adapt to Canadian cultural traits and social norms. The younger an immigrant is when landing in Canada, the more time the immigrant has to gain human capital skills specific to the Canadian labour market.

Age at immigration frequently determines where a person receives his or her education. With the difficulties in determining a foreign credential’s value in Canada (see footnote 6) and evidence that the return on Canadian education is much higher than the return on foreign education, age at immigration becomes one of the most important factors in determining the economic outcomes of immigrants. (see footnote 7) Research (see footnote 8) further suggests that the children of immigrants who have schooling in Canada have economic outcomes which are on par with, and in some instances surpass, the average ones of Canadian-born children.

The proposed definition of dependent child, based on the age of 19, is in line with most provincial, federal and international standards by which a child is considered to have reached the age of independence (i.e. age 18 or 19).

In Canada, each province and territory decides its respective “age of majority.” Anyone under a provincial age of majority is considered to be a “minor” or “child.” Across Canada, the age of majority is 18 or 19 years, varying from province to province. Currently, it is 18 years in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan, while it is 19 years in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon. Canada’s Criminal Code also treats those who are 18 years old and over as adults.

In most countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, a person is eligible to vote at the age of 18.

The proposed changes to the definition of dependent child would still meet the IRPA objective of family reunification as parents could still bring with them their children who are under the age of 19, an age where most children are just completing secondary school.

Reducing the age of dependants allows for flexibility to select immigrants based on their economic potential, their ability to integrate more rapidly into the labour market, and the duration of their contribution to the economy. Analysis (see footnote 9) reveals that, on average, skilled workers have the best economic outcomes. They are followed by dependent children under 19 years of age, who are successfully integrated into the Canadian society by the time they enter the labour market.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada would meet its objective of contributing to Canada’s economic potential by selecting more economic immigrants on the basis of their qualifications and experience and potential benefit to the labour market, while dependent children under 19 years of age would adjust to Canada by virtue of a Canadian education and/or work experience, factors valued by Canadian employers, which contribute to better economic integration.

At current processing levels, approximately 7 000 (see footnote 10) dependent children (ages 19 and above, from all immigration categories combined) would no longer be considered dependent children given the proposed amendment. Most of these older dependent children would typically accompany applicants in the PGP (25%), Business (14%), and Provincial Nominee programs (19%). This proposal would not have a significant impact on the overall economic stream as dependent children aged 19 and over account for less than 3% of all approved persons in the economic programs.

Those children aged 19 and above who would no longer be able to immigrate as dependants of their applicant parents, may decide to come to Canada as international students. If such international students acquire Canadian work experience after graduation and meet other applicable requirements, they may apply for immigration under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), which to date has yielded positive economic and labour market outcomes. Others may decide to apply to come to Canada on their own merit through various economic programs. This would help Canada attract and retain qualified immigrants who have the skills and experience required to contribute to Canada’s overall economic growth.

The overall costs of this proposal to the Government of Canada are expected to be very minimal. Communication and operational measures are expected to amount to a cost of approximately $62,000.

This regulatory amendment would increase Canada’s economic potential by enhancing the economic integration of immigrants overall. This proposal would ensure that dependent children selected to come to Canada are those with better economic integration potential, leaving more space for immigrants selected for their economic potential and ability to contribute immediately to the Canadian economy.

This proposal would also improve processing efficiencies in processing immigration applications, allowing visa offices more time to assess other immigration applications rather than assessing the full-time student status of older dependent children (a process that is vulnerable to fraud).

Implementation, enforcement and service standards

This proposal has a coming into force date of January 1, 2014. For applicants who submit any sponsorship application and/or permanent resident application on or after this date, the proposed new definition of a dependent child would apply. For all applicants who submitted a permanent resident application prior to January 1, 2014, the existing definition of a dependent child would continue to apply.

Transitional provisions are proposed for groups of applicants who would already be in the immigration application process at the time of coming into force, but who may not yet have submitted the permanent resident portion of their immigration application. These transitional provisions would apply to live-in caregivers, some refugee claimants and some refugees who will be applying for resettlement to Canada from abroad, persons whose circumstances are being examined under public policy considerations issued by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration pursuant to section 25.2 of the IRPA, parents and grandparents for whom a sponsorship application alone was submitted before November 5, 2011, and refugees abroad for whom a sponsorship application was received before October 18, 2012. The transitional provisions would allow these persons to have their permanent resident applications, including those of their dependent children, finalized under the criteria in force at the time their immigration applications were initiated.

The age of dependants is locked-in at the time the permanent resident application is received by CIC. In some cases, such as for live-in caregivers, refugees and persons selected under a public policy, the road to permanent residence involves many steps, as applicants would have initiated their immigration process years before being in a position to submit an application for permanent residence. For these groups of applicants, there would have been an assumption that the same definition of dependent child would apply throughout the entire process, with the expectation that the applicants would be able to bring their dependants to Canada upon completion of the permanent residency process. Given the processing specificity for these groups of applicants, the existing definition of dependent child would continue to apply to these applicants.

  • Live-in caregivers come to Canada first as temporary foreign workers, usually without their children. Most (98%) apply for permanent residence and expect to reunite with their children after having gained the required experience, years later.
  • Refugees abroad and refugee claimants have been forced to flee persecution and have little control on the destination and timing of their migration. It may take years before they are granted protected person status and can file an application for permanent residence.
  • Persons coming to Canada under public policies pursuant to section 25.2 of the IRPA often experience refugee-like situations and may also have to wait some time, once selected under these policies, before being able to submit their permanent resident applications.

Furthermore, in some programs, two applications must be submitted: a sponsorship application and a permanent resident application. In the past, these applications in the parents and grandparents and resettlement categories could be submitted separately, i.e. the permanent resident application would follow a positive assessment of the sponsorship application. There is now a requirement to submit both applications together. In order not to penalize applicants who at the time of coming into force of the proposed Regulations would not have yet submitted their permanent resident application, the transitional provisions would also extend to the following people:

  • Parents and grandparents for whom a sponsorship application alone was submitted before November 5, 2011, the date on which CIC put in place a temporary pause on the acceptance of new sponsorship applications in this category as part of its Action Plan for Faster Family Reunification.
  • Refugees abroad for whom a sponsorship application alone was received before October 18, 2012. Prior to that date, the refugee’s permanent resident application was received after CIC approved the sponsorship application.

In both cases, the permanent resident application, which includes the application for the dependent child, would not have been submitted with the sponsorship application and may not have been received by CIC at the time of coming into force of the proposed new definition.

A communications strategy would inform the public, stakeholders and other key audiences of these changes. A news release and backgrounders would be issued publicly and posted on CIC’s Web site. Web content would be created and a complimentary social media campaign would be developed to maximize dissemination of this information.

Contact

Caroline Riverin Beaulieu
Assistant Director
Social Policy and Programs
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
365 Laurier Avenue W, 8th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 1L1
Email: Caroline.RiverinBeaulieu@cic.gc.ca

PROPOSED REGULATORY TEXT

Notice is given that the Governor in Council, pursuant to subsection 14(2) (see footnote a), section 32 (see footnote b) and subsection 89(1) (see footnote c) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (see footnote d), proposes to make the annexed Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

Interested persons may make representations concerning the proposed Regulations within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. All such representations must cite the Canada Gazette, Part Ⅰ, and the date of publication of this notice, and be addressed to Caroline Riverin Beaulieu, Assistant Director, Immigration Branch, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 365 Laurier Avenue West, 8th Floor, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L1 (email: Caroline.RiverinBeaulieu@cic.gc.ca).

Ottawa, May 9, 2013

JURICA ČAPKUN
Assistant Clerk of the Privy Council

REGULATIONS AMENDING THE IMMIGRATION
AND REFUGEE PROTECTION REGULATIONS
AMENDMENTS

1. Paragraph (b) of the definition “dependent child” in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (see footnote 11) is replaced by the following:

  • (b) is in one of the following situations of dependency, namely,
    • (i) is less than 19 years of age and not a spouse or common-law partner, or
    • (ii) is 19 years of age or older and has depended substantially on the financial support of the parent since before the age of 19 and is unable to be financially self-supporting due to a physical or mental condition.

2. Subsection 61(6) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

Child

(6) For the purposes of subparagraphs 28(2)(a)(ii) and (iv) of the Act, a child means a child who is not a spouse or commonlaw partner and is less than 19 years of age.

3. Subparagraphs 132(1)(b)(ii) and (iii) of the Regulations are replaced by the following:

  • (ii) if the foreign national is a dependent child of the sponsor or of the sponsor’s spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner or is a person referred to in paragraph 117(1)(g), and is less than 19 years of age when they become a permanent resident, on the earlier of
    • (A) the last day of the period of 10 years following the day on which the foreign national becomes a permanent resident, and
    • (B) the day on which the foreign national reaches 22 years of age,
  • (iii) if the foreign national is a dependent child of the sponsor or of the sponsor’s spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner and is 19 years of age or older when they become a permanent resident, on the last day of the period of three years following the day on which the foreign national becomes a permanent resident,

4. (1) Subparagraphs 295(1)(a)(ii) to (iv) of the Regulations are replaced by the following:

  • (ii) in respect of a principal applicant who is a foreign national referred to in any of paragraphs 117(1)(b) or (f) to (h), is less than 19 years of age and is not a spouse or common-law partner, $75,
    (iii) in respect of a family member of the principal applicant who is a spouse or common-law partner, $550, and
  • (iv) in respect of a family member of the principal applicant who is a dependent child, $150;

(2) Subparagraphs 295(1)(b)(ii) and (iii) of the Regulations are replaced by the following:

  • (ii) in respect of a family member of the principal applicant who is a spouse or common-law partner, $550, and
  • (iii) in respect of a family member of the principal applicant who is a dependent child, $150; and

(3) Subparagraphs 295(1)(c)(ii) and (iii) of the Regulations are replaced by the following:

  • (ii) in respect of a family member of the principal applicant who is a spouse or common-law partner, $550, and
  • (iii) in respect of a family member of the principal applicant who is a dependent child, $150.

5. (1) Subparagraphs 301(1)(a)(ii) and (iii) of the Regulations are replaced by the following:

  • (ii) in respect of a family member of the principal applicant who is a spouse or common-law partner, $550, and
  • (iii) in respect of a family member of the principal applicant who is a dependent child, $150; and

(2) Subparagraphs 301(1)(b)(ii) and (iii) of the Regulations are replaced by the following:

  • (ii) in respect of a family member of the principal applicant who is a spouse or common-law partner, $550, and
  • (iii) in respect of a family member of the principal applicant who is a dependent child, $150.

6. Paragraphs 307(b) and (c) of the Regulations are replaced by the following:

  • (b) in the case of a family member of the principal applicant who is a spouse or common-law partner, $550; and (c) in the case of a family member of the principal applicant who is a dependent child, $150.

7. The Regulations are amended by replacing “22” with “19” in the following provisions:

  • (a) paragraph 121(a);
  • (b) paragraph 128(a); and
  • (c) paragraph 142(b).

TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS

8. The definition “dependent child”, set out in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, as it read immediately before the coming into force of these Regulations, continues to apply in respect of a dependent child of the following persons:

  • (a) a person whose application for a permanent resident visa or for permanent resident status was made before the coming into force of these Regulations;
  • (b) a person who made their work permit application under Division 3 of Part 6 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations and whose work permit application was approved before the coming into force of these Regulations;
  • (c) a person who made a claim for refugee protection in Canada before the coming into force of these Regulations and who acquired protected person status before or after the coming into force of these Regulations;
  • (d) a person respecting whom a referral set out in section 140.3 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations was submitted to the immigration office before the coming into force of these Regulations;
  • (e) a person respecting whom a sponsorship application was made under Part 8 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations on or before October 18, 2012;
  • (f) a person whose circumstances were being examined under section 25.2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act before the coming into force of these Regulations and who made an application for a permanent resident visa under that section after the coming into force of these Regulations; and
  • (g) a parent or grandparent respecting whom a sponsorship application was made before November 5, 2011.

COMING INTO FORCE

9. These Regulations come into force on January 1, 2014.

[20-1-o]

Footnote 1
By age 30, dependants that arrived at ages 15 to 18 earn roughly 20% more than dependants that arrived at ages 19 to 21. Source: Longitudinal Immigration Database (IMDB) and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Footnote 2
Source: Longitudinal Immigration Database and the Canada Revenue Agency.

Footnote 3
Source: Longitudinal Immigration Database and the Canada Revenue Agency.

Footnote 4
Schaafsma, Joseph, and Arthur Sweetman (2001). “Immigrant Earnings: Age at Immigration Matters,” Canadian Journal of Economics, November 2001, v. 34, iss. 4, pp. 1066–99.

Footnote 5
Schaafsma, Joseph, and Arthur Sweetman (2001). “Immigrant Earnings: Age at Immigration Matters,” Canadian Journal of Economics, November 2001, v. 34, iss. 4, pp. 1066–99 and Boudarbat, Brahim, and Maude Boulet (2010). « Un diplôme postsecondaire canadien : un tremplin vers des emplois de qualité pour les immigrants, » Institute for Research on Public Policy.

Footnote 6
Hiebert, D. (2006). “Skilled Immigration in Canada: Context, Patterns and Outcomes.” In Birrell, Hawthorne and Richardson, Evaluation of the General Skilled Migration Categories. Commonwealth of Australia. Shellenberg and Maheux (2007). “Immigrants’ Perspectives on their First Four Years in Canada: Highlights from Three Waves of the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada.” Canadian Social Trends. (Spec. ed.)

Footnote 7
Anisef, P., Sweet, R. and Frempong, G. (2004). “Field of Study (FOS) and Labour Market Outcomes of Immigrant and Racial Minority University Graduates in Canada”.

Footnote 8
Picot and Hou (2011). “Seeking Success in Canada and the United States: The Determinants of Labour Market Outcomes among the Children of Immigrants.”

Footnote 9
Source: Longitudinal Immigration Database and the Canada Revenue Agency.

Footnote 10
Based on average number/proportion of dependent children 19 and above approved per year by age bracket / category for the period 2005–2010.

Footnote 11
SOR/2002-227

Footnote a
S.C. 2012, c. 17, s. 9(1)

Footnote b
S.C. 2012, c. 19, s. 705

Footnote c
S.C. 2012, c. 31, s. 312

Footnote d
S.C. 2001, c. 27