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SOR/2017-60 April 13, 2017

IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE PROTECTION ACT

Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (Age of Dependent Children)

P.C. 2017-396 April 13, 2017

Whereas, pursuant to subsection 5(2) (see footnote a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (see footnote b), the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has caused a copy of the proposed Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (Age of Dependent Children), substantially in the annexed form, to be laid before the Senate and the House of Commons on November 16, 2016;

Therefore, His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, pursuant to subsections 5(1) and 14(2) (see footnote c), section 32 (see footnote d) and subsection 89(1) (see footnote e) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (see footnote f), makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (Age of Dependent Children).

Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (Age of Dependent Children)

Amendments

1 Subparagraphs (b)(i) and (ii) of the definition dependent child in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (see footnote 1) are replaced by the following:

  • (i) is less than 22 years of age and is not a spouse or common-law partner, or
  • (ii) is 22 years of age or older and has depended substantially on the financial support of the parent since before attaining the age of 22 years and is unable to be financially self-supporting due to a physical or mental condition. (enfant à charge)

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, child means a child who is not a spouse or common-law partner and is less than 22 years of age.

3 (1) 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 22 years of age on the day on which he or she becomes 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 attains 25 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 22 years of age or older on the day on which he or she becomes 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,

(2) The portion of paragraph 132(2)(b) of the Regulations before subparagraph (ii) is replaced by the following:

  • (b) 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 22 years of age on the day on which he or she becomes a permanent resident, the later of
    • (i) the day on which the foreign national attains 22 years of age, and

(3) Paragraph 132(2)(c) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

  • (c) 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 22 years of age or older on the day on which he or she becomes a permanent resident, on the last day of the period of 10 years following the day on which the foreign national becomes a permanent resident;

(4) The portion of subsection 132(4) of the Regulations before paragraph (a) is replaced by the following:

Agreement

(4) Subject to paragraph 137(c), if the person is to be sponsored as a member of the family class or of the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class and is 22 years of age or older, or is less than 22 years of age and is the sponsor’s spouse, common-law partner or conjugal partner, the sponsor, the co-signer, if any, and the person must, before the sponsorship application is approved, enter into a written agreement that includes

4 Subparagraph 295(1)(a)(ii) of the Regulations is 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), (f), (g) or (h), is less than 22 years of age and is not a spouse or common-law partner, $75,

Transitional Provisions

5 (1) The definition dependent child in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, as it read on July 31, 2014, applies in respect of a dependent child who made an application as a principal applicant for a permanent resident visa as a member of the family class on or before July 31, 2014 and whose application is pending the day on which these Regulations come into force.

(2) Section 25.1 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations does not apply in respect of a dependent child referred to in subsection (1).

6 Sections 1, 3 and 4 of these Regulations do not apply in respect of applications for a permanent resident visa or in respect of sponsorship applications, as the case may be, made after July 31, 2014 and before these Regulations come into force.

Coming into Force

7 These Regulations come into force on October 24, 2017.

REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT

(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)

Issues

The Government of Canada has established as a priority for the immigration and refugee programs the goal of family reunification, which is about giving family members the opportunity to live with or near each other, instead of being separated by borders and long distances. It is recognized that many young adults remain with their parents for a longer period of time. Given the importance placed on education, it is not unusual for some children to remain with their nuclear family while pursuing higher education before entering the labour market. The current definition of “dependent child” in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (the Regulations) is limited to persons less than 19 years of age and is therefore too restrictive.

Background

The definition of dependent child in the Regulations is used to determine whether a child may be eligible to immigrate as a family member of a principal applicant in all permanent residence classes (economic, family and refugee/humanitarian), or as a principal applicant who may be sponsored in the family class immigration program.

Under the current Regulations, a dependent child, in respect of a parent, is a biological or adopted child and is in one of the following situations of dependency, namely

  • (i) is less than 19 years of age and is 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.

The definition of dependent child has evolved over the years. From June 28, 2002, to July 31, 2014, the eligibility age of a dependent child was under 22 years, provided that they were not a spouse or common-law partner. This age limit was intended to reflect the trend of children staying longer at home with their parents, such as those studying full-time for lengthier periods and hence remaining during that time in a situation of dependency. (see footnote 2)

Based on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) administrative data, between 2002 and 2014, dependent children represented, on average, 28% of all immigration applications approved annually (approximately 72 000 per year). Of these dependent children, approximately 11% were 19 years of age or older: 7% were between 19 and 21 years of age and 4% were 22 years of age or older.

Effective August 1, 2014, the age limit for dependent children was reduced from under 22 to under 19 years of age. This regulatory amendment was intended to enhance the economic integration of permanent resident dependent children and was informed by evidence that older permanent residents have a more challenging time fully integrating into the Canadian labour market, which was considered more evident for those who are not selected solely for their economic potential. (see footnote 3)

Objectives

A primary objective of this regulatory amendment is to enhance family unity and reunification by enabling Canadians and permanent residents to bring their young adult children between 19 and 21 years of age to Canada. This is consistent with two of the main stated objectives of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act: with respect to immigration, “to see that families are reunited in Canada,” and with respect to refugees, “to support the self-sufficiency and the social and economic well-being of refugees by facilitating reunification with their family members in Canada.”

A second objective is to clarify the policy intent by providing a transitional provision in respect of a dependent child who made an application as a principal applicant for a permanent resident visa as a member of the family class on or before July 31, 2014, and whose application is pending the day on which these Regulations come into force. The transitional provision of the August 1, 2014, amendment unintentionally limits its scope to dependent children of adult immigrant applicants, as opposed to including child principal applicants who are sponsored by their Canadian citizen or permanent resident parents.

Finally, the changes correct an error made in the French definition of “dependent child.”

Description

This amendment changes the definition of dependent child in the Regulations from “less than 19 years of age” to “less than 22 years of age,” thereby increasing the maximum age of dependent children.

Related amendments are made to other sections of the Regulations, specifically those concerning fees, sponsorship duration, and residency obligations, to ensure consistency with the intention of those provisions, in line with the new definition of dependent child.

This amendment corrects a reference from “dependant child” to “dependent child” in the French definition.

The amendment also contains two transitional provisions. The first enables dependent children whose applications are pending as of the coming into force of these Regulations, who filed their applications before August 1, 2014, who and are themselves principal applicants, to benefit from the broader definition which applied before that date (as was intended).

A second transitional provision has also been added for clarity subsequent to prepublication, and to maintain the implementation approach which would avoid impacting processing times. This second transitional provision clarifies that the amendments made in these Regulations do not apply in respect of applications for a permanent resident visa or sponsorship applications made after July 31, 2014, but before these amendments come into force.

“One-for-One” Rule

The “One-for-One” Rule does not apply to this change. The amendment will not impose incremental administrative or compliance costs on business.

Small business lens

The small business lens does not apply to this change, as the measure will not result in additional costs to small business.

Consultation

IRCC has informed the provinces and territories of this change, and discussions have occurred on program harmonization with these governments.

Prepublication comments

The proposal to change the definition of dependent child was prepublished in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on October 29, 2016, for a 30-day comment period. IRCC received 51 written comments in response. Five of those submissions were received from stakeholder organizations, mainly organizations that represent the interests of immigrants and refugees.

All comments were favourable to the increased age limit. Many stakeholders supported the view that young adults aged 19 to 21 are often financially and emotionally dependent on their parents. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and several others noted the proposed age limit would have particular benefits for refugee families.

A number of stakeholders expressed a desire to see the Regulations come into force as soon as possible. Some stakeholders also suggested that the implementation approach be modified: instead of the proposed approach (the amendment would apply only to applications submitted on or after the coming-into-force date), some requested the amendment be applied also to in-process applications on the coming-into-force date. With respect to the coming-into-force date, IRCC has worked to develop and implement this change as efficiently as possible within the established regulatory process. With respect to the second suggestion, applying the change to in-process applications would require a pause in finalizing many permanent residence applications and would impact processing times in many programs.

Following the prepublication, IRCC considered all comments received, and determined that the proposed increase in the age limit be maintained. The implementation approach is also being maintained, to avoid impacting processing times.

Rationale

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 all improve. The increase of the maximum age of dependent children is consistent with the underlying socio-economic trend that children remain at home longer with their parents, particularly those studying for lengthier periods. For example, some young adults complete high school at a later age than average. In 2009–2010, while 77% of the population in Canada under 24 years of age completed high school between 18 and 19 years of age, an additional 13% of this population completed high school between 20 and 24 years of age. (see footnote 4)

Whether studying or not, many young adults in Canada and other countries live with their parents. The 2011 Census found that over half of all young adults from 20 to 24 years of age lived with their parents (63.3% of young men and 55.2% of young women). (see footnote 5) This proportion has increased in recent decades, particularly for young women, rising from 33% in 1981 to 55.2% in 2011. Similarly, in the United States, more young adults, particularly women, are living with family longer than in the past. (see footnote 6)

This increase to the upper age limit of the “dependent child” definition therefore more closely aligns Canada’s immigration programs with the Canadian and international experience. Notably, the higher age limit will enable many post-secondary students — who complete a degree at a median age of 24.8 years of age (see footnote 7) — to be eligible as dependent children through much of their undergraduate studies. These young adults would be unlikely to be eligible for permanent resident status as principal applicants under an economic immigration program, until they have completed post-secondary education and gained significant work experience.

Implementation, enforcement and service standards

These Regulations will come into force on October 24, 2017.

IRCC will make the necessary changes to application processing systems, and will issue program delivery instructions to inform staff, including immigration officers, of the amended age limit. The public and stakeholders will be informed of these changes.

For applicants who submit a permanent resident application on or after October 24, 2017, the new definition of dependent child will apply. For applicants who submitted a permanent residence application on or after August 1, 2014, and before October 24, 2017, the current definition of dependent child will continue to apply.

Contact

David Cashaback
Director
Social Immigration Policy and Programs
Immigration Branch
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
Email: IRCC.AgeofDependentChild-Enfantacharge.IRCC@cic.gc.ca

  • Footnote a
    S.C. 2008, c. 3, s. 2
  • Footnote b
    S.C. 2001, c. 27
  • Footnote c
    S.C. 2013, c. 16, s. 4
  • Footnote d
    S.C. 2014, c. 39, ss. 309(2) and (3)
  • Footnote e
    S.C. 2012, c. 17, s. 30
  • Footnote f
    S.C. 2001, c. 27
  • Footnote 1
    SOR/2002-227
  • Footnote 2
    “Delayed Transition of Young Adults” (2007). Statistics Canada.
  • Footnote 3
    Sources include IRCC analysis of the Longitudinal Immigration Database. Schaafsma, Joseph, and Arthur Sweetman (2001). “Immigrant Earnings: Age at Immigration Matters.” Canadian Journal of Economics. November 2001, Vol. 34, Issue 4, pp. 1066–99.
  • Footnote 4
    McMullen, Kathryn, and Jason Gilmore (2010). “A Note on High School Graduation and School Attendance, by Age and Province, 2009/10.” Statistics Canada.
  • Footnote 5
    Milan, Ann (2016). “Diversity of Young Adults Living with their Parents.” Statistics Canada.
  • Footnote 6
    Pew Research Centre (2015). “Record Share of Young Women are Living with their Parents, Relatives.”
  • Footnote 7
    Dale, Meghan (2010). “Trends in the Age Composition of College and University Students and Graduates.” Statistics Canada.