Last Updated on September 16, 2011 by Steven Meurrens

Many minors wish to reside temporarily in Canada.  Their reasons for doing so range from making extended visits to the more common scenario of studying in Canada as an international student.

In order to obtain a visitor visa or a study permit, minor applicants generally must supply two notarized declarations.  The first is from the parent or legal guardian in the applicant’s country of origin.  The second is from the minor applicant’s intended custodian in Canada, stating that arrangements have been made for the custodian to act in place of the parent and to support the child.

On September 15, 2011, Citizenship and Immigration Canada introduced an exception to the custodianship requirement to some minor’s aged 17 and older.

Definition of Minor Child

In Canada, each province or territory defines the age of majority. Anyone under the age of majority at the time of their arrival in Canada is considered to be a “minor child.”

  • The age of majority is 18 in: Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan.
  • The age of majority is 19 in: British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon.

(On a side note, it is interesting that the age of majority does not always correspond to the legal drinking age.  In Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Prince Edward Island, the minimum drinking age is 19.)

Under 17 Years of Age

If a minor is less than 17 years of age at the time of application, a Canadian custodian will be required.  In addition to the information already required on the forms, custodians will also now have to confirm that they will reside within a reasonable distance to the minor applicant’s intended residence and/or school.

Minors Aged 17 Years or Older

Applicants who are between 17 years of age and the age of majority in the applicant’s respective intended province of residence will now no longer automatically be required to have a custodian.  Instead, applications will be assessed on a case by case basis.

In considering whether custodianship is required, officers must consider:

  • Level of studies – applicant’s intended level of academic studies. Those attending secondary school should normally require a custodian.
  • Level of independence – applicant’s current or past living arrangements and whether previous studies were completed away from their principal residence.
  • Financial capacity – applicant’s financial self-sufficiency outside of parent(s) or guardian(s) (i.e., scholarship, government sponsorship, etc.).
  • Travel experience – applicant’s previous travel history, participation in international exchange programs, etc.
  • Accessibility of parent(s) or guardian(s) – location of applicant’s parent(s) or guardian(s) and their accessibility for institutions and/or medical centres to contact them in case of emergency situations.
  • Informal arrangements – whether arrangements (less formal than custodianship) have been made to provide support and care for the minor student.
  • Risk environment – applicant’s safety and well-being in relation to risk indicators for irregular child migration, and potential for exploitation and/or trafficking.