The word “continuously” appears in several immigration requirements. It is not often not defined, and its interpretation has largely been left to immigration officers and the courts.
Black’s Law Dictionary defines the word “continuously” to mean:
Uninterruptedly; in unbroken sequence; without intermission or cessation; without intervening time; with continuity or continuation.”
The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word “continuously” as being:
“in a continuous manner; uninterruptedly, without a break”.
The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines “continuous” as meaning “unbroken, uninterrupted.”
Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines “continuously” as being “in a continuous manner” and “continuous” as “characterized by uninterrupted extension in time or sequence.”
Dependent Child Jurisprudence
Much of the jurisprudence on the matter involves the definition of “dependent child” before the Conservative Government of Canada changes in 2014.
Previously, a “dependent child” was defined as:
“dependent child”, in respect of a parent, means a child who
(a) has one of the following relationships with the parent, namely,
(i) is the biological child of the parent, if the child has not been adopted by a person other than the spouse or common-law partner of the parent, or
(ii) is the adopted child of the parent; and
(b) is in one of the following situations of dependency, namely,
(i) is less than 22 years of age and not a spouse or common-law partner,
(ii) has depended substantially on the financial support of the parent since before the age of 22 — or if the child became a spouse or common-law partner before the age of 22, since becoming a spouse or common-law partner — and, since before the age of 22 or since becoming a spouse or common-law partner, as the case may be, has been a student
(A) continuously enrolled in and attending a post-secondary institution that is accredited by the relevant government authority, and
(B) actively pursuing a course of academic, professional or vocational training on a full-time basis, or
(iii) is 22 years of age or older and has depended substantially on the financial support of the parent since before the age of 22 and is unable to be financially self-supporting due to a physical or mental condition.
How this section is interpreted is very fact specific.
In Singh Gill v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2008 FC 365, the Federal Court of Canada determined that an applicant’s two absences from school, one for four months to care for her ailing grandmother and another for ten days to attend and assist with her sister’s wedding, did not constitute a sufficient period of time to abandon her studies and not meet the definition of “dependent child.” The Federal Court determined that the individual was still continuously enrolled, because:
These leaves or absences from studies… did not, in and of themselves, constitute a sufficient period of time for her to abandon her studies. As [her] school transcripts and certificates attest, she continued with her studies, uninterrupted; neither of the educational institutions… considered that she had either withdrawn or abandoned her studies for any given year.
However, in Shomali v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), an applicant’s studies were interrupted during the period of a military service where the individual was afforded an educational leave of absence. The Federal Court found that this did not meet the requirement of “continuous,” with the deciding factor seeming to be that in one case an individual simply did not attend class to attend an ailing grandmother, while in the other case the educational institution actually granted a leave of absence.