Thousands of families excluded from benefit of increased age of dependent children

Canadian Council for Refugees

Media Release
For immediate release
8 May 2017

Thousands of families excluded from benefit of increased age of dependent children

The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) today expressed its deep disappointment at the government’s decision to exclude all families with applications in process from the benefit of the upcoming change in the age of dependants rule. The result is to deny reunification for thousands of families with young adult children.

“This is devastating for many families that our members work with,” said Loly Rico, CCR President. “People have been waiting impatiently for the implementation of the government’s campaign promise to return the maximum age of dependants to under 22 years. We asked the government to provide retroactive measures to reunite families separated since the lower age was introduced in 2014. Far from doing that, the government has excluded thousands more families from the promised higher maximum age.”

The pre-published version of the regulatory change announced that implementation of the change would be in fall 2017. Under the proposed version, immigration applications currently in process would benefit from the increased maximum age once it took effect. However, in the final version of the rule change, published 3 May, a transitional provision has been added that excludes all applications in process on the date of implementation (24 October 2017).

The CCR is particularly concerned about refugee families where young adult children are left either in the home country at risk of persecution, or in a precarious situation in a third country.

As a result of the rule excluding current applications, families are going to face difficult decisions:

  • Some families will consider withdrawing current applications so that they can apply again after the rule change. For example, a woman recently recognized as a refugee in Canada who has a 19 year old outside Canada may need to withdraw the application and re-apply after 24 October. This will cost her hundreds of dollars, be wasteful to immigration processing, will delay reunification for the whole family and slow down her integration into Canada.
  • Many families will delay putting in applications in order to benefit from the change. For example, private sponsors of refugees will want to wait until after October 24 if they are planning to sponsor a family with young adult children. This will mean the family will spend longer in a vulnerable situation waiting for a permanent home.

The CCR underlines the particular injustice of the combined regulatory changes for legacy claimants (i.e. those who made a claim before 15 December 2012). The longer they wait for a hearing (through no fault of their own), the more of their children “age out”, since they do not benefit from the lock-in date that applies to more recent refugee claimants.

For more information:

Change to the regulations on age of dependants, Canada Gazette,

CCR comments on proposed regulations:

Practical information on current rules regarding the “age of dependants”:


Colleen French, Communication and Networking Coordinator, Canadian Council for Refugees, (514) 277-7223, ext. 1, (514) 602-2098 (cell),