While most international students studying at the post-secondary level in Canada are no longer minors, it can sometimes be the case that a first-year (or even a second-year) student is below what we call the Age of Majority in Canada. If you are below the Age of Majority, you are legally considered a minor and if in addition you are under the age of 17, you must have a custodian if you will be studying in Canada.
Let’s go through the details.
Unfortunately, Age of Majority is not identical across Canada because it depends on the province/territory where your Designated Learning Institution (DLI) is located. This means that you may be considered a minor in one province but not in another. Here’s a table showing the Age of Majority by Province and Territory:
|Province or Territory||Age of Majority||Minor||Minor with optional custodianship|
|Alberta||18 years||17 years and under||17 years old|
|British Columbia||19 years||18 years and under||18 and 17 years old|
|Manitoba||18 years||17 years and under||17 years old|
|New Brunswick||19 years||18 years and under||18 and 17 years old|
|Newfoundland & Labrador||19 years||18 years and under||18 and 17 years old|
|Northwest Territories||19 years||18 years and under||18 and 17 years old|
|Nova Scotia||19 years||18 years and under||18 and 17 years old|
|Nunavut||19 years||18 years and under||18 and 17 years old|
|Ontario||18 years||17 years and under||17 years old|
|Prince Edward Island||18 years||17 years and under||17 years old|
|Quebec||18 years||17 years and under||17 years old|
|Saskatchewan||18 years||17 years and under||17 years old|
So, you’re legally considered a minor if your age is below the Age of Majority in that province or territory. Furthermore, if you are a minor but are 17 or 18 years old (depending on the province/territory you’ll be studying in) then you do not normally need a custodian to study as an international student in Canada.
- However, there may be situations when an IRCC official decides that you need a custodian even if you are 17 or 18 years old. This will depend on the specific circumstances of each case but is NOT a general rule.
If you are under the age of 17, no matter what province/territory you’ll be studying in, you will need a custodian.
- A custodian is an adult Canadian citizen or permanent resident who takes on the responsibility to care for and support the minor student while they study in Canada.
To appoint a custodian, you are going to have to complete form IMM 5646E Custodianship Declaration. Let’s go through the steps in completing IMM 5646E.
The form asks for basic personal information on the student, the parents/guardians, and the custodian.
There are two similar pages where the same information is asked for. However, the first page is signed and notarized by the custodian IN CANADA. The second page is signed and notarized by the parents/guardians IN THEIR HOME COUNTRY.
In other words, you have to fill in the same Student, Parent/Guardian, and Custodian information twice, but each part is signed by different people. The custodian signs the first page, while the parents/guardians sign the second page. Both must also be notarized in their respective countries.
Finally, please note that all this is in additions to applying for a study permit, which a minor international student studying at the post-secondary level must have.
Allard Keeley has been a published writer on immigration policy since 2013. Has written for publications like The Federalist. Fluent in Spanish and English. BA Honors Economics Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.