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New Definition of "Dependent Child" Effective August 1


By Lori Brienza and Melanie Goldsworthy

On August 1, 2014, Citizenship and Immigration Canada ("CIC") released Operational Bulletin 588, which provides operational guidance to CIC and Canada Border Services Agency on the amended definition of "dependent child" under section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations ("IRPR"). The new definition applies across all CIC lines of business, including temporary residence, effective immediately. Below is a summary of the highlights of the Operational Bulletin.

New Definition

The amendment narrows the previous definition of dependent child by reducing the basic age limit for a dependent child from under 22 to under 19 years and eliminating the eligibility for older children to be considered dependents on the basis that they are students. CIC also removed the provision for a child who is married or in a common-law relationship to be considered a dependent at any age. Children with a physical or mental condition that prevents them from being able to financially support themselves will continue to be considered as dependents.

Effect on Permanent Residence Applications

All new permanent residence applications not yet submitted must meet the new definition. The transitional provision permits applicants who have already applied for permanent residence prior to August 1, 2014 to be assessed using the pre-amendment definition. Permanent residence application processes can generally be divided into single-step or multiple-step processes depending on the specific program or category.

Single-step processes involve the submission of an application for permanent residence, accompanied by a sponsorship application, where applicable. For these cases, applications received by CIC prior to August 1, 2014 will be assessed using the pre-amendment definition of "dependent child". The provision also permits applicants of a multiple-step immigration program, such as the Provincial Nominee Program, to be assessed using the pre-amendment definition, provided the preliminary processes were initiated prior to August 1, 2014, and even if the complete application for permanent residence is received by CIC on or after August 1, 2014.

Foreign nationals seeking to apply for Canadian permanent residence with an accompanying child nearing 19 years of age are encouraged to submit their applications before their childÂ’s 19th birthday. Once the accompanying child reaches 19 years of age, he or she will need to meet permanent residence program requirements independently, unless the new definition can be met because he or she is dependent due to a mental or physical condition.

Lock-in Procedures

New lock-in provisions will apply to all applications for permanent residence received by CIC on or after August 1, 2014, except for those applications which will benefit from any of the transitional provisions. Applications that benefit from a transitional provision will be subject to the lock-in procedures that existed prior to these amendments.

Under the new lock-in provisions, the age of a dependent child will be locked in at the first formal stage of the application process under which the principal applicant is applying. For single-step processes, the age lock-in date is the date that CIC receives a complete application for permanent residence from the principal applicant. Age lock-in dates for multiple-step processes will vary according to the program or category. Under the Provincial Nominee Program, for example, the following applies:

  • For applications received before August 1, 2014 (transitional provision applies), the age lock-in date is the date on which CIC receives the complete application for permanent residence from the principal applicant; and
  • For applications received on or after August 1, 2014, the age lock-in date is the date on which the applicable provincial or territorial authority receives a complete application for provincial nomination from the principal applicant.

Effect on Temporary Residence Applications, Including Work Permits

The new definition for "dependent child" will apply immediately to all applications for temporary residence, such as applications for a Work Permit, to determine whether an accompanying child is a dependent. Any applications received by CIC before August 1, 2014, but processed on or after that date, will be determined using the pre-amendment definition of "dependent child". If children do not qualify to be processed as a dependent of a principal applicant, CIC will determine whether children 19 years of age or over are eligible for temporary resident status because they meet applicable requirements independently.

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