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Minor and dependent children

Who is considered a minor child?
Province/TerritoryAge of
Majority
Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan18
British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Yukon19

There are special considerations for minor children who travel, whether they will accompany you or travel independently. For details, read the information about children under 18 years of age travelling to Canada.

Who is considered a dependent child?

Effective August 1, 2014, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has changed its definition of a dependent child for its immigration programs. A dependent child must be under 19 years of age, instead of the previous limit of under 22 years of age. Find out more about the change in the definition of a dependent child. New application kits, forms and fee information are now available. These new forms must be used starting August 1, 2014.

I will be studying or working in Canada temporarily. Can my dependent child(ren) accompany me to Canada or join me at a later date?

Your children can come with you to Canada or visit you in Canada, provided that they meet all the normal requirements for temporary residence, including obtaining a temporary resident visa if necessary.

If your children will be accompanying you to Canada, you must submit their application (a separate form is required for each person) with your own (for a study permit, work permit and/or temporary resident visa).

If your children will join you in Canada at a later date, they will need to submit a separate application if they require a study permit, work permit and/or temporary resident visa.

There are special considerations for minor children who travel, whether they will accompany you or travel independently. For details, read the information about children under 18 years of age travelling to Canada. 

I will be studying or working in Canada temporarily. Can my dependent child(ren) go to school in Canada?

In most cases, minor children require a study permit to study in Canada. Please check the eligibility requirements below for the conditions that apply to your particular circumstance.

Eligibility

These are the study permit requirements for children who are accompanying a parent(s) or legal guardian(s) who will study or work temporarily in Canada:

  • Pre-school/Kindergarten: no study permit required.
  • Primary and secondary school (age 6-18): open study permit required. You do not require an acceptance letter from the child’s school in Canada. Please note: children accompanying parents who are visitors in Canada (i.e. they do not have a study or work permit) are not eligible for an open study permit.
  • University and college (under the age of 19): study permit required. Follow the standard process to apply for a study permit. The application for the child’s study permit should be made on a separate form from the parent’s application.
  • Studying in Quebec: In addition to the standard requirements, applicants destined to Quebec need a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ) from the Government of Quebec. For more information on how to apply for a CAQ visit the immigration website of the Government of Quebec.

No study permit required

In some cases, minor children do not need a study permit to study in Canada. These cases include:

  • minor children attending pre-school or kindergarten,
  • minor children who are refugees or refugee claimants, or whose parents are refugees or refugee claimants,
  • dependent children of accredited foreign representatives in Canada, and
  • minor children who are already in Canada with parents who are allowed to work or study in Canada, and who want to attend pre-school, primary or secondary school.

Validity

  • No study permit is required to attend pre-school or kindergarten.
  • Study permits for primary school (grades 1 to 8) are normally valid for one year and can be renewed in Canada.
  • Study permits for secondary school (grades 9 to 12), college or university are normally issued for the the full length of the intended period of study in Canada, plus 90 days (maximum 4 years).
  • Study permits for minor children studying in Quebec are valid for the same length of time as the Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ).

Are there special considerations for children coming to study in Canada unaccompanied by a parent or legal guardian?

Minor children who come to Canada to study and who are not accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, must be cared for by a responsible adult in Canada. This person is known as a custodian.

The visa officer at the port of entry must be satisfied that adequate arrangements have been made for the care and support of minor children who travel to Canada to study.

Two notarized documents are required, one signed by the parents or legal guardians of the minor child and the second signed by the custodian in Canada. Download the necessary documents.

Minor children who are traveling alone must:

  • bring contact information (name, address and phone number) with them about the custodian who will be responsible for them in Canada and where they will be going to school; and
  • have a letter of permission from their parent(s) and a letter from their custodian in Canada.

If the child is the subject of a custody order, additional information is required. A custody order is an order of a Court that indicates which parent has care and control of a child. If a custody order has been issued, a copy of the order must be provided. A letter indicating the other parent’s consent is also required.

Applicants who wish to study in Quebec need a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ). For more information on how to apply for a CAQ visit the immigration website of the Government of Quebec.

Also see about Children travelling under the age of 18.

Can my dependent child(ren) work in Canada?

Eligibility

If your dependent children want to work while in Canada, they must apply for their own work permit. Normally, they must meet all of the standard requirements.

In most cases, your dependent children must apply for a work permit for a specific job. Their employer may have to get a Labour Market Impact Assessment (or LMIA, a document an employer must usually get before they are allowed to hire a foreign worker) from Employment and Social Development Canada. An LMIA allows a particular employer to hire someone for a specific job.

However, certain provinces or territories have pilot projects that permit dependent children may be able to apply for an open work permit—allowing them to accept any job with any employer.

In some cases, your dependent children will need a medical exam.

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Date Modified:
2014-11-04