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  • Article: New Definition of Dependent in Canadian Law By Benjamin A. Kranc

    New Definition of Dependent in Canadian Law



    Effective August 1, 2014, the definition of the term ‘dependent’ has changed. Dependents are those people allowed to accompany a principal applicant who is approved to reside in Canada permanently or temporarily.

    The Old Law

    Until the change, the law has provided that a dependent could be:

    • An unmarried child of the principal applicant who is under the age of 22 (as of the date of application)
    • An unmarried financially dependent child of the principal applicant, who is 22 or older, if the child has been continuously in school to the point of visa/status issuance, or
    • A financially dependent child of the principal applicant, who is 22 or older, if the child is unable to support him/herself due to a mental or physical condition (as of the date of visa/status issuance).

    The New Law

    As of August 1, the definition of a dependent includes only:

    • An unmarried child under the age of 19 (as of the date of first step of application [e.g. Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) application filed prior to CIC application]), or
    • An unmarried child of any age, if, due to a mental or physical condition, he/she is unable to support him/herself.

    Summary of What has Changed

    The notable differences are therefore:

    • Children between the ages of 19 and 21 will no longer qualify as dependents (subject only to one exception, noted below)
    • Children of any age with a physical or mental condition who are unable to support themselves will qualify as dependents.
    • Application cost for a dependent on a permanent residence application, no matter what age, will be $150.

    Transition and Post August 1 Application of Law

    The government has announced that any application in process as of August 1, even at a preliminary stage (e.g. PNP application filed, but full CIC application not yet lodged) will be processed under the old rules. Any application filed on August 1 or thereafter will be subject to the new rules (and again, the ‘lock in date’ is as of the first application).


    Applicants will certainly be impacted by this change. In the vast majority of cases, an applicant will be allowed to be accompanied by only a spouse/common law partner, and a child 18 or younger. Applicants will need to consider this in their new reality when coming to Canada.

    What Can Be Done

    In some cases, strategies may be available to circumvent the impact of the rule. For instance, some children who would have previously qualified but now don’t, may be eligible for an International Experience Class based application, or may be eligible for a study permit on their own merits.

    The information in this article is for general purposes only, and not intended as legal advice for any particular situation.

    Reprinted with permission.

    About The Author

    Benjamin A. Kranc Benjamin A. Kranc is senior principal of the firm, and has many years of experience assisting clients in connection with Canadian immigration and business issues. Ben is certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as a Specialist in Immigration Law, and is one of only a select few to be chosen by ‘Who’s Who Legal’ to be a foremost practitioner in his field. He has spoken at numerous conferences, seminars, and information sessions – both for professional organizations and private groups – about issues in Canadian immigration law and has taught immigration law at Seneca College in Toronto. Ben has also written extensively. He is the author of a text on Canadian immigration law entitled “North American Relocation Law” (Thomson Reuters) and contributing immigration author of “The Human Resources Advisor” (First Reference Books).

    The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

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