Please note: This article is now out of date. For questions about dependents, see this page.
The age at which a child will be able to accompany you to Canada on your permanent residence application a dependent is being lowered from under 22 to under 19.
Also, the exception which existed for full-time students is being removed meaning that dependent children of applicants who are 19 and are enrolled in school full-time will no longer be considered 'dependent children' as pertains to the permanent residence application. (Please note that a child will continue to be considered "dependent", no matter the age, if they have a mental or physical condition which prevents them from looking after themselves.)
On the surface, this is an attemp to make the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) coincide with the Canadian definition of "age of majority", which is either 18 or 19, depending on the province or territory concerned. However this change will likely have massive impact on attempting to settle in Canada who have children who have yet to finish school or who have not yet been able to acquire the work experience necessary to immigrate to Canada.
The government suggests that these "young adults" (i.e. people between 19 and 22 who would have normally immigrated with their parents) come to Canada on "their own merits", that is on student visas. (The government also suggests taking advantage of "various economic programs" however it is hard to see how most 19-22 year olds will qualify for such programs. If you are from an eligible country there is always the International Experience Canada program.)
Any complete application accepted prior to August 1, 2014 will be assessed according to the old rules, so if you are thinking seriously of applying for permanent residence, and you have a dependent child between the ages of 19 and 22, now is the time to apply. Also, certain applicants who are in the process of acquiring Canadian permanent residence through a "multi step" immigration program (such as the Provincial Nominee Programs and the Live In Caregiver Program) will still have their applications assessed under the old rules as well, provided they began the process prior to August 1, 2014. The full list of programs which will benefit from having the old rules applied (under the right circumstances):
- Provincial Nominee Programs; Quebec Economic Immigrant Programs;
- Live-in caregivers;
- Refugees abroad and refugee claimants;
- Quebec humanitarian cases;
- Parents or grandparents whose sponsorship applications were received before November 5, 2011
- Privately sponsored refugees whose sponsorship applications were received before October 18, 2012.
If you have already begun the process for one of the above programs and you have a dependent child between the ages of 19 and 22, but you have not submitted your permanent residence application, your child’s age was or will be “locked in” at the date your first application is submitted (such as a an application for provincial nomination).
The changes will take effect August 1, 2014. See the government's notice here.