Dependent Children


In this post, I will discuss dependent children and the Canadian immigration system.

Who is a dependent child?

A dependent child is defined in relation to that child’s age or due to the child’s dependency as a student or due to a medical condition.

With regard to age, a child is dependent if that child is under twenty-two years of age and unmarried (nor in a common law relationship) at the time the application for immigration is filed.   It does not matter if the child turns twenty-two during the application process, as the child’s age is “locked-in” at the time of application.  This is the only fair approach, as processing times can often be very lengthy indeed.

With regard to status, a child who is twenty-two years of age or older at the time of application may be a dependent in the following circumstances:


If the child (over twnety-two years of age) has been in attendance at a university, college or other post-secondary institution at the time of application, and has been substantially supported by his or parents while a student since that time.  The child must be attending school full-time; part-time studies do not count.

Medical issues

A child who has a physical or mental condition may also be considered as dependent regardless of his or her age.  In order to qualify as a dependent child in these circumstances, there must be strong evidence that the child is suffering from such a condition.  The child must have a condition whereby he or she is wholly or substantially supported by his or her parents.  Moreover, the condition must be such that the child is incapable of supporting himself or herself as a result of the physical or mental disability.

This of course presents a double-edged sword to an application.  Evidence of a physical or mental disability that requires substantial support of the parent may possibly render that child inadmissible to Canada based on medical grounds.

Burden of evidence

The applicants have the burden to show appropriate evidence that all the requirements for dependency have been met.  The visa officer is the one who makes the final determination as to whether the child is considered a dependent, especially in those cases where the applicant is asserting a child over twenty-two years of age is a dependent.  Although the officer is under a duty to act fairly, the burden still falls on the applicant to present persuasive evidence.

It is always a good idea to consult with a Canadian immigration lawyer if you have a child who is over twenty-two but for whom you are asserting is a dependent as part of your immigration application.


About the author

Gianpaolo Panusa Gianpaolo Panusa is a Canadian immigration lawyer, writer, and founder of the PanCanadian Immigration Law Group based in Vancouver, Canada. Google+ Profile