CANADA: Changes to Permanent Residence Rules and Age Threshold for Dependants

Effective 28th April 2017, the Government of Canada has removed the condition that applied to some sponsored spouses or partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents to live with their sponsor for two years in order to keep their permanent resident status.

Effective 24th October 2017, the Canadian government will reset the age of dependency back to “under 22”.

Conditional Permanent Residence

Who is Affected?

Effective 28th April 2017, conditional permanent residence no longer applies to anyone, whether they were sponsored by their spouse or partner for permanent residence, or by someone who had conditional permanent residence (i.e. child or parent).

If a spouse or partner received a Confirmation of Permanent Residence on or after 18th April 2017 indicating that they must cohabit in a conjugal relationship with their sponsor or partner for a continuous period of two years after the day on which they became a Permanent Resident, this requirement no longer applies.

Anyone under investigation for not complying with the requirement to live with their spouse or partner is no longer under investigation.


Under the old regulation a spouse or partner had to live with their sponsor for two years if, at the time they applied, their relationship was less than two years and they had no children in common.

The condition was introduced as a means to deter people from seeking to immigrate to Canada through non-genuine relationships. By removing the condition, the Government recognises that, while cases of marriage fraud exist, the majority of relationships are genuine and most spousal sponsorship applications are made in good faith.

Eliminating conditional permanent residence upholds the Government’s commitment to family reunification and supports gender equality and combating gender violence. As a result of the requirement for the sponsored spouse or partner to live with their sponsor, an imbalance between the sponsor and the sponsored spouse or partner could have been created, potentially making the sponsored spouse or partner more vulnerable.

Dependant Age

Who is Affected?

This change will affect any foreign national holding or seeking a temporary or permanent immigration status in Canada who would like to include their unmarried (and not in a common-law relationship) children aged between 19 and 21 as dependants.

Any permanent residence application already submitted, or to be submitted between now and 24th October 2017, will continue to be governed by the “under 19” rule. This may impact on planning and the timing of applications – and may require a trade-off between (a) including a child in the application, and (b) facing a reduction of points for age for the principle applicant.


Until 3 years ago, “dependant” for Canadian immigration purposes meant a child under the age of 22 (with some exceptions for children with health issues reliant on parental financial support).

In June 2014, the government of the day revised the dependency age from “under 22” to “under 19”. This meant that many families, whether in a temporary or permanent immigration scenario, lost the ability to include children aged 19 to 21 as dependants.

Our advice

Spouses and partners who previously had to live with their sponsor for two years should be aware that they no longer need to fulfil this requirement.

Employees holding or seeking temporary or permanent residence in Canada and wishing to include children aged between 19 and 21 as dependants should consult a Newland Chase immigration specialist.

For further information on Canadian immigration, please email us at

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