ARCHIVED — Vol. 148, No. 13 — June 18, 2014

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Registration

SOR/2014-133 May 29, 2014

IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE PROTECTION ACT

Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations

P.C. 2014-619 May 29, 2014

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, substantially in the annexed form, to be laid before each House of Parliament;

Therefore, His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, pursuant to subsection 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.

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 1) 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 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.

2. The Regulations are amended by adding the following after section 25:

General rule — one-step process

25.1 (1) For the purposes of determining whether a child is a dependent child, the lock-in date for the age of a child of a person who is a member of any of the classes set out in these Regulations, other than in those cases referred to in subsections (2) to (9), and who makes an application under Division 5, 6 or 7 of Part 5 is the date on which the application is made.

Certificat de sélection — distressful situation

(2) For the purposes of determining whether a child is a dependent child, the lock-in date for the age of a child of a person who is referred to in section 71, to whom a Certificat de sélection du Québec has been issued declaring that that person is in a particularly distressful situation and who makes an application under Division 6 of Part 5 is the date on which the application for selection was made to Quebec.

Quebec economic candidate

(3) For the purposes of determining whether a child is a dependent child, the lock-in date for the age of a child of a person who is referred to in section 86, 96, 99 or 101, to whom a Certificat de sélection du Québec has been issued and who makes an application under Division 6 of Part 5 is the date on which the application for selection was made to Quebec.

Provincial nominee

(4) For the purposes of determining whether a child is a dependent child, the lock-in date for the age of a child of a person who is a member of the provincial nominee class, who is nominated by the province and who makes an application under Division 6 of Part 5 is the date on which the application for nomination was made to the province.

Live-in caregiver

(5) For the purposes of determining whether a child is a dependent child, the lock-in date for the age of a child of a person who is a member of the live-in caregiver class and who makes an application under Division 6 of Part 5 is the date on which the initial application for a work permit as a live-in caregiver was made.

Sponsorship — refugee

(6) For the purposes of determining whether a child is a dependent child, the lock-in date for the age of a child of a person who is referred to in paragraph 139(1)(h), who makes an application under Division 6 of Part 5 and in respect of whom an undertaking application is made by a sponsor who meets the requirements of sponsorship set out in section 158 is the date on which the undertaking application was made to Quebec.

Refugee

(7) For the purposes of determining whether a child is a dependent child, the lock-in date for the age of a child of a person who submits an application for a permanent resident visa under Division 1 of Part 8 along with one of the referrals set out in section 140.3 is the date on which the referral was made.

Family member who does not accompany applicant

(8) For the purposes of determining whether a child who submits an application under paragraph 141(1)(b) is the dependent child of a person who has submitted an application under paragraph 139(1)(b), the lock-in date for the age of that child is the date on which that person submitted the application.

Refugee protection

(9) For the purposes of determining whether a child is a dependent child, the lock-in date for the age of a child of a person who has submitted a claim for refugee protection inside Canada under subsection 99(3) of the Act, who has acquired protected person status and who has made an application for permanent residence is the date on which the claim for refugee protection was made.

3. 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 common-law partner and is less than 19 years of age.

4. The Regulations are amended by adding the following after section 69:

Requirements — family member

69.1 Subject to subsection 25.1(1), to be considered a family member of the applicant, a person shall be a family member of an applicant both at the time the application under section 66 is made and at the time of the determination of the application.

5. The Regulations are amended by adding the following before the heading “Division 1” before section 73:

DIVISION 0.1

GENERAL

Requirements — family member

72.8 Subject to subsections 25.1(3) to (5) and for the purposes of this Part, to be considered a family member of an applicant, a person must be a family member of the applicant both at the time the application under Division 6 of Part 5 is made and at the time of the determination of the application.

6. Section 121 of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

Requirements

121. Subject to subsection 25.1(1), a person who is a member of the family class or a family member of a member of the family class who makes an application under Division 6 of Part 5 must be a family member of the applicant or of the sponsor both at the time the application is made and at the time of the determination of the application.

7. The portion of section 128 of the Regulations before paragraph (b) is replaced by the following:

Requirements — family member

128. The requirements with respect to a person who is a family member of a member of the spouse or common-law partner in Canada class who makes an application under Division 6 of Part 5 are the following:

  • (a) subject to subsection 25.1(1), the person is a family member of the applicant both at the time the application is made and at the time of the determination of the application; and

8. (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 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,

(2) Paragraphs 132(2)(b) and (c) of the Regulations are amended by replacing “22” with “19”.

(3) Subsection 132(4) of the Regulations is amended by replacing “22” with “19”.

9. Section 142 of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

Requirements — family members

142. Subject to subsections 25.1(1) and (6) to (8) and for the purposes of this Division, to be considered a family member of an applicant, a person must be a family member of the applicant

  • (a) at the time the application referred to in paragraph 139(1)(b) is made; and
  • (b) at the time of the determination of the application referred to in paragraph 141(1)(b).

10. (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.

11. (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.

12. 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.

TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS

13. (1) 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 is made before the coming into force of these Regulations;
  • (b) a person who made an application to Quebec for selection as a person in a particularly distressful situation before the coming into force of these Regulations and a Certificat de sélection du Québec was issued to that person before or after the coming into force of these Regulations;
  • (c) a person who made an application to Quebec for selection as a member of the economic class before the coming into force of these Regulations and a Certificat de sélection du Québec was issued to that person before or after the coming into force of these Regulations;
  • (d) a person who made an application in a province for nomination as a member of the provincial nominee class before the coming into force of these Regulations and a nomination certificate was issued to that person by the province before or after the coming into force of these Regulations;
  • (e) 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;
  • (f) 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;
  • (g) 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;
  • (h) 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;
  • (i) a person respecting whom an undertaking application was made to Quebec before the coming into force of these Regulations by a sponsor who meets the requirements of sponsorship set out in section 158 and a Certificat de sélection du Québec was issued to that person before or after the coming into force of these Regulations;
  • (j) 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
  • (k) a parent or grandparent respecting whom a sponsorship application was made before November 5, 2011.

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

(3) The fees payable for processing an application referred to in sections 295, 301 and 307 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, as they read immediately before the coming into force of these Regulations, shall apply to a dependent child of a person referred to in subsection (1) if that child is 22 years of age or older — or, if less than 22 years of age, is a spouse or common-law partner — and meets the description set out in subparagraph (b)(ii) of the definition of “dependent child” in section 2 of those Regulations as it read immediately before the coming into force of these Regulations.

COMING INTO FORCE

14. These Regulations come into force on August 1, 2014.

REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT

(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)

Issues

Dependent children of selected immigrants are admitted on the basis of their relationship to the principal applicant in all immigration classes (economic, family, and refugee/humanitarian). As well, dependent children may be sponsored in the family class. 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 over the long run than those who arrive in Canada at a younger age (between 15 and 18 years old). (see footnote 2)

Government and academic research 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). (see footnote 3)

While Citizenship and Immigration Canada (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.

In sum, 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, 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 indicate that they 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. In addition to the above, there are currently inconsistencies in the procedures CIC uses to lock in (or “freeze”) the age of a dependent child at a specified point in time during the application process.

Current age lock-in procedures for the family and refugee streams are broadly described in the Regulations (sections 121, 128 and 142 respectively) and further clarified in operational manuals (OP2 — Processing Members of the Family Class, IP8 — Spouse and Common-law Partner In Canada Class, and OP5 — Overseas Selection and Processing of Convention Refugees Abroad Class and Members of the Humanitarian-protected Persons Abroad Classes). Age lock-in procedures for the economic stream (including provincial and territorial nominee programs and Quebec economic programs) are expressed in operational manuals only.

For all permanent resident applications except those submitted under Quebec economic programs, CIC locks in the age of a dependent child at the date that CIC receives a complete application for permanent residence. A complete application is one that is made in writing using the form provided by the Department, signed by the applicant, including all information and documentation required by the Regulations and other evidence required by the Act as well as evidence of payment of the applicable fee (see section 10 of the Regulations).

For Quebec economic applicants, who must obtain a Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ) from the province prior to being able to submit a permanent resident application to CIC, the age of any dependent person is locked in at the date Quebec receives the CSQ application.

Age lock-in determinations have an impact on applicants who must undertake a multi-step immigration process — such as the two-step application process for Quebec’s economic programs. Other immigration processes with two or more steps are processes for Quebec distressed cases and collective sponsorships, provincial nominees, live-in caregivers, resettled refugees from abroad, and in-Canada asylum claimants. These programs all involve two or more steps in the immigration process, and some can take two years or more before an individual is in a position to submit an application for permanent residence to CIC. For applicants in all of these programs, age lock-in determinations have a significant impact on whether their child will be found eligible for permanent residence as their dependent child.

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 five 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 will contribute to the Canadian economy.

The above principles are reflected in the 2012 and 2013 economic action plans and the 2013 Speech from the Throne. The 2012 Economic Action Plan set the Government’s 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. In its economic action plans 2013 and 2014, the Government indicated its intention to further improve the immigration system to focus more on meeting Canada’s economic needs.

Objectives

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

A secondary objective of these amendments is 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.

A third objective is to mitigate the impact of the new definition on economic and humanitarian programs involving a multi-step immigration process, and bring consistency across all programs by amending in the Regulations the determinations CIC uses to lock in the age of a dependent child for all immigration categories.

Transitional provisions will also mitigate the impact of the amendments on multi-step immigration programs, but only for those whose applications are already in process (see the Description section).

Description

The amended Regulations will narrow the definition of dependent child by reducing the age limit to under 19 and remove 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 will be retained.

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

Lock-in determinations that officers must use to determine the age of a child for the purpose of assessing whether or not the child meets the definition of dependent child will be defined clearly in the Regulations for all categories. Specifically, the age of dependent children will be locked in at

Application processes with one step
  • The date CIC receives a complete permanent resident application, for applicants in the federal economic class (e.g. federal skilled workers, federal skilled trades, Canadian Experience Class, federal business).
  • The date CIC receives a complete permanent resident application, for applicants in the family class (including the Spouse and Common-Law Partners in Canada class).
  • The date CIC receives a complete permanent resident application, for applicants for humanitarian and compassionate consideration in Canada.
  • The date CIC receives a complete permanent resident application, together with a complete sponsorship undertaking, for privately sponsored refugees.
Application processes with two or more steps
  • The date Quebec receives a complete application for a Certificat de sélection du Québec, for applicants in Quebec economic categories (Quebec skilled workers and Quebec investors, entrepreneurs and self-employed), persons in distressful situations and persons sponsored under collective sponsorships destined to Quebec.
  • For provinces and territories other than Quebec, the date the province or territory receives a complete application for provincial nomination, for applicants in the Provincial Nominee program.
  • The date CIC receives an initial and complete work permit application from abroad from applicants in the Live-In Caregiver program.
  • The date CIC receives a referral from a referral organization, for refugees selected abroad who are referred by a referral organization.
  • The date CIC receives the permanent residence visa application for refugee protection as per paragraph 139(1)(b) of the Regulations for persons who do not accompany the applicant and apply for permanent residence within one year from the day on which the refugee protection was conferred to that applicant (referred to as one-year window).
  • The date a person’s claim was made to an officer as per subsection 99(3) of IRPA, for persons who made a claim for refugee protection in Canada and who subsequently acquired protected person status.

Given that age lock-in determinations are defined in the Regulations for all immigration streams and programs, the references to age lock-in under section 121 (Family class), section 128 (Spouse and Common-Law Partner class) and section 142 (Resettled refugees) of the Regulations have been removed. However, the portion of these sections dealing with the other elements of the definition of dependent child have been retained, i.e. that the child is not a spouse or a common-law partner and, where it applies, and that the child is financially dependent on his or her parents due to a physical or mental condition. These elements are not locked in at any point during the immigration process; they must be satisfied at the time of application and at the time at which the permanent residence status is granted. Furthermore, as no such provisions exist in the current Regulations for the economic and in-Canada humanitarian streams, sections were added for these streams.

Finally, amendments are introduced to the fees of overage dependent children who are financially dependent on their parents due to a physical or mental condition. Currently, these children are subject to the same $550 processing fees for accompanying a principal applicant as dependent children of 22 years of age or older, or less than 22 (but a spouse or common-law partner), who are financially dependent on their parents because they are full-time students. For younger accompanying dependants (under 22 years old and not a spouse or common-law partner), those processing fees are $150. Under the amended Regulations, the only overage dependent children (19 years of age or older) will be those who are financially dependent on their parents due to a physical or mental condition. The amendments will apply the same fee of $150 to all accompanying dependent children. The $550 fee will continue to apply to children of 22 years of age and older and to those less than 22 who are a spouse or common-law partner, who are included in applications covered by transitional provisions and who are financially dependent on their parents because they are full-time students (see Transitional provisions below).

Transitional provisions

Transitional provisions will apply to applications in multi-step permanent resident immigration programs, and in particular for applications which will already be in process at the time of coming into force, but for which the application for permanent residence has not been submitted to CIC. 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. The transitional provisions will allow these applicants to benefit from the pre-amendment definition of dependent child.

Programs in this category are

  • (i) Applicants selected by a province or territory under the Provincial Nominee or Quebec economic programs
  • Provincial nominees and Quebec economic migrants must first apply to the province/territory for nomination or selection and, if approved, can apply to CIC for permanent residence. In certain provinces and territories, applicants under provincial nominee business streams are also required to first come to Canada on a temporary work permit for a period of up to two years before being nominated. Overall, it may take from a few months to years before applicants are able to submit an application for permanent residence to CIC.
  • (ii) Persons in distressful situations selected by Quebec
  • Persons in particularly distressful situations who are destined to Quebec must first obtain a Certificat de sélection from the province before they can submit an application for permanent residence.
  • (iii) Persons being sponsored under a collective sponsorship in Quebec
  • For persons being sponsored under a collective sponsorship, an undertaking application must first be made to Quebec; if approved, an application for permanent residence can be made to CIC.
  • (iv) Live-in caregivers
  • Live-in caregivers come to Canada first as temporary foreign workers, usually without their children. Most (98%) apply for permanent residence with the aim of reuniting with their children after having gained the required experience, years later.
  • (v) Some refugee claimants and some refugees applying for resettlement to Canada from abroad
  • 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.
  • (vi) Persons whose circumstances are being examined under public policy considerations issued by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration pursuant to section 25.2 of IRPA
  • Persons coming to Canada under public policies pursuant to section 25.2 of 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, applications in the parents and grandparents category and the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program could be submitted separately, i.e. the permanent resident application would follow a positive assessment of the sponsorship application. Although there is now a requirement to submit both applications together, there are still some applications that have not yet been processed for which the new rules do not apply. In order not to penalize applicants who at the time of coming into force of the Regulations would have submitted their sponsorship application under the old rules but not yet submitted their permanent resident application, the transitional provisions will also be applied. In both cases, the permanent resident application, which includes the application for the dependent child, will not have been submitted with the sponsorship application or will not have been received by CIC at the time of coming into force of the proposed new definition. Applicants in these programs are

  • (vii) 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.
  • (viii) Privately sponsored refugees for whom a sponsorship application was received before October 18, 2012.
Fee-related transitional provisions

The fees payable for processing applications referred to in sections 295, 301 and 307 of IRPR, as they read immediately before the coming into force of these Regulations, will continue to apply to dependent children whose applications are covered by transitional provisions described above, who are 22 years of age or older — or less than 22 and a spouse or common-law partner and who are financially dependent on their parents because they are full-time students, as described in subparagraph (b)(ii) of the definition of dependent child as it read immediately before the coming into force of these Regulations.

“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.

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. Commentators felt that they would be better able to participate in the labour market and integrate into Canadian society and more likely to support their families.

Prepublication comments

CIC received comments from provincial and territorial governments, as well as 60 submissions of written comments in response to the prepublication of the proposal to change the definition of dependent child in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on May 18, 2013.

The 32 organizations that submitted comments represented, in the majority, immigrant and refugee serving organizations and advocacy groups, as well as a number of social service agencies and legal clinics. Respondents also included faith-based organizations, organizations representing the legal profession, and ethno-cultural organizations. Twenty-eight comments were received from individuals including lawyers and immigration consultants.

Among key domestic stakeholders were submissions from the Canadian Bar Association, the Barreau du Québec, the Canadian Council for Refugees, the Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes refugiées et immigrantes, the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, the Canadian Refugee Sponsorship Agreement Holders Association, the Mennonite Central Committee and smaller regional and local organizations from many provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia). The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also submitted written comments that focused on the impact of the proposal on the refugee resettlement program.

Of the 60 submissions, most of the stakeholders who responded were opposed to lowering the upper age limit. A number of immigrant and refugee supporting organizations and individuals opposed the reduction in age on several grounds.

IRPA objectives

Many who were opposed to the proposal argued that it counters IRPA’s objective to see families reunited for all permanent residence programs (economic, family and refugee/humanitarian). For example, some stakeholders argued that 19 to 21 year old youth are still emotionally and financially dependent on their parents, particularly in some cultures.

Humanitarian and safety concerns

Several stakeholders expressed concerns with the impact of the proposal on refugees. They pointed out that it would be difficult for refugees to make arrangements for their young adult children to live safely with extended family in the country of origin and that there is a risk that some families may sacrifice the safety of young adult children, particularly women, for whom they can make no adequate arrangements.

The UNHCR stated the proposal would result in a misalignment between the UNHCR’s concept of a dependent child and Canada’s, and negatively impact its ability to refer some refugee families to Canada for resettlement. The organization requested a mitigating measure should the proposal be implemented, namely to set the age lock-in point as the date on which CIC receives a refugee referral from the UNHCR.

Economic impacts

Some stakeholders disagreed with the notion that younger immigrants experience better economic outcomes. Some suggested that the overall economic impact of the amendments should consider other factors, such as whether some of the economically beneficial immigrants Canada seeks to attract might decide not to come to Canada if they may not bring their older children.

Provincial Nominee program and Quebec economic program

Provinces and territories, immigration consultants and some other individuals raised concerns that transitional provisions had not been proposed for Provincial Nominee and Quebec economic programs. The absence of transitional provisions for these programs would mean that some prospective immigrants through these programs whose applications were awaiting decisions would see their older children become ineligible. Transitional provisions allowing these applicants to benefit from the pre-amendment definition would mitigate the impact of the change in the definition of dependent child on these applicants.

Following the prepublication consultation and further analysis, CIC determined that the proposed reduction in age limit and removal of the exception for students will be maintained. In addition to reuniting families, IRPA envisions the successful economic and social integration of permanent residents into Canada. Children over the age of 19 will not be prevented from immigrating to Canada; they will have to qualify on their own merits under one of Canada’s immigration programs or streams. Additionally, CIC decided to complement the original proposal with measures that would respond to several key concerns. These measures include

  • 1) providing transitional provisions for provincial and territorial nominee programs and Quebec economic programs, as well as Quebec special processes for persons in a particularly distressful situation selected by Quebec and persons sponsored under collective sponsorships destined to Quebec (see the Implementation, enforcement and service standards section);
  • 2) adding regulatory provisions regarding age lock-in procedures for all categories. Such lock-in procedures will mitigate the impact of the changes to the definition for certain of the economic immigration programs, address some of the humanitarian and safety concerns identified with regards to young adult refugees, and provide a consistent approach across all immigration programs.

Rationale

Amendments to the definition of dependent child

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)

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. (see footnote 5) 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, assuming their first language is not English or French, 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 evidence that the return on Canadian education in Canada is usually 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 6) Research 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. (see footnote 7)

The amended 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 amendments to the definition of dependent child respond to Government priorities of having an immigration system focused on Canada’s economic and labour force needs. 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 reveals that, on average, skilled workers have the best economic outcomes. (see footnote 8) They are followed by dependent children under 19 years of age, who are successfully integrated into Canadian society by the time they enter the labour market.

The change to the definition of dependent child still meets the IRPA objective of family reunification as parents can still bring with them their children who are under the age of 19, an age where most children are just completing secondary school. Older children (aged 19 and over) will have to demonstrate their own integration merits through other Canadian immigration programs. In 2012, dependent children under the age of 19 constituted 90% (66 782) of all children for whom a permanent resident application was approved that year, while those aged 19 and older were 10% (7 832). (see footnote 9)

At current processing levels, approximately 7 000 individuals (see footnote 10) (ages 19 and above, from all immigration categories combined) will no longer be considered dependent children as a result of the amendment to the definition of dependent child. Most of these individuals will be children of applicants in the PGP (25%), Business (14%), and Provincial Nominee programs (19%) who apply after the coming into force of the new definition.

The impact on applicants of the amendment to the definition of dependent child will be mitigated on a temporary basis by transitional provisions that will allow applicants who have already initiated their immigration process at the time of coming into force of the new definition to complete this process under the same criteria, i.e. the pre-amendment definition of dependent child (see the Implementation, enforcement and service standards section).

Children aged 19 and above who will 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, 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 will help Canada attract and retain qualified immigrants who have the skills and experience required to contribute to Canada’s overall economic growth.

Amendments related to age lock-in

Given the amendment to the upper age limit from under 22 to under 19, parents with children in the 16 to 18 age range who are just beginning a multi-step immigration process will reasonably worry whether their children will still be eligible by the time they are able to submit their application for permanent residence to CIC. This may deter some of the economically beneficial immigrants that Canada is seeking to attract from choosing Canada.

Regulations defining lock-in determinations will mitigate this impact for certain immigration categories and provide a consistent approach across all permanent residence programs based on the principle of locking in the child’s age at the first formal stage of the immigration process.

These new lock-in provisions will provide a permanent and consistent approach to age lock-in based on the principle that the child’s age will be locked in at the first stage of a multi-step application process (i.e. Quebec economic programs, the Provincial Nominee program, the Live-in Caregiver program, refugee resettlement in which a referral organization makes a referral, and the In-Canada Asylum program). The earlier lock-in points will offset the deterrence effect of the narrower definition of dependent child for some of the immigrants Canada is seeking to attract — those with the skills Canada needs to strengthen the economy, who are seeking to immigrate via one of these multi-step immigration programs, and who have teenage children who might not be eligible to accompany them by the time their permanent resident application is assessed. They will also help offset the impact on Canada’s refugee protection programs, and help Canada continue to provide protection to families in need.

Based on the number of persons whose permanent resident applications were approved in 2012, new lock-in determinations will reduce the impact of the new definition by about 35%. In other words, the annual number of individuals who will not be eligible to immigrate as dependent children because of both changes (the change in definition of dependent child along with new lock-in regulations) is expected to be 35% lower than if only the definition of dependent child had been changed.

Overall impact of amendments

The overall costs of the new Regulations 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.

These regulatory amendments will increase Canada’s economic potential by enhancing the economic integration of immigrants overall. They will ensure that dependent children who come to Canada are those with better economic integration potential. They will also create more space in the levels plan for immigrants selected for their economic potential.

The new Regulations will 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 children (a process that is vulnerable to fraud).

Implementation, enforcement and service standards

These Regulations come into force on August 1, 2014.

New definition of dependent child

For all applicants who submitted a permanent resident application prior to the coming-into-force date, the existing definition of a dependent child will continue to apply.

For applicants who submit any sponsorship application and/or permanent resident application on or after this date, the new definition of a dependent child will apply, except those who benefit from the transitional provision (see the Description section).

Once all applicants covered by these transitional provisions have completed their immigration process (i.e. once their permanent resident application has been processed), these provisions will no longer apply.

Age lock-in provisions

The new lock-in provisions are ongoing. They will apply to all applications for permanent residence received by CIC on or after the coming into force of these amendments, except those applications for permanent residence which will benefit from any of the transitional provisions described below.

Communications

A communication strategy is being developed to inform the public, stakeholders and other key audiences of these changes. A news release and backgrounders are proposed and would be issued publicly and posted on CIC’s Web site. Web content, including a Web notice and notice boxes with links to new forms, kits and guides, will be created and a complementary social media campaign will 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

  • 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. 2013, c. 16, par. 37(2)(b)
  • Footnote e
    S.C. 2012, c. 31, s. 312
  • Footnote f
    S.C. 2001, c. 27
  • Footnote 1
    SOR/2002-227
  • Footnote 2
    Source: Longitudinal Immigration Database (IMDB), managed by Statistics Canada, which combines linked immigration and tax records. Analysis was conducted by CIC on the incidence of employment earnings and the amount of employment earnings of immigrants who immigrated to Canada as dependent children, by age groupings. For example, by age 30, dependants that arrived in 1988 at ages 15 to 18 earned roughly 20% more than dependants that arrived at ages 19 to 21.
  • Footnote 3
    In addition to statistical analysis using the IMDB, CIC also reviewed published government and academic research, including: 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; Friedberg, R. (1993) and “The Labor Market Assimilation of Immigrants in the United States: The Role of Age at Arrival,” mimeo, Brown University.
  • 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
    Ibid.; 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.); 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 7
    Picot and Hou (2011). “Seeking Success in Canada and the United States: The Determinants of Labour Market Outcomes among the Children of Immigrants.”
  • Footnote 8
    Source: Longitudinal Immigration Database
  • Footnote 9
    Based on operational data (average number/proportion of dependent children 19 and above approved per year by age bracket/category for the period 2005–2010).
  • Footnote 10
    Ibid.