News / Vancouver

Newcomer children now eligible up to age 22: Lower Mainland MPs

Community agency lauds Surrey and Langley MPs' visit this weekend to tell migrant families the news directly, after federal immigration legislation comes into effect.

Mary Tanielian, Langley Community Services Society's settlement and integration services manager (left), stands with Cloverdale-Langley City MP John Aldag and Surrey-Newton MP Sukh Dhaliwal on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017, following an immigration policy announcement raising the age for children to join their families in Canada from 19 to 22.

Courtesy: Langley Community Services Society

Mary Tanielian, Langley Community Services Society's settlement and integration services manager (left), stands with Cloverdale-Langley City MP John Aldag and Surrey-Newton MP Sukh Dhaliwal on Friday, Oct. 27, 2017, following an immigration policy announcement raising the age for children to join their families in Canada from 19 to 22.

Told they could now sponsor dependent children up to 22 years old to reuinite with them in Canada, a room full of newcomer families burst into murmurs and applause Friday afternoon.

The new age limit came into effect last week, local Member of Parliament John Aldag informed the group gathered at Langley Community Services Society (LCSS), and would reverse the previous Conservative government's dropping the age to 19.

"The previous government's changes that made it younger (were) separating families," the Cloverdale-Langley City MP said. "And we know that when families are separated, that's not good for anyone.

"This gives families a bit longer than they have traditionally … If the kids are in that age where they're making a transition between 19 and 22, we want them to have the opportunity to finish up whatever they're doing — and then still be sponsored by their families to come to Canada."

For Mary Tanielian, LCSS' settlement and integration services manager, the change is "huge" for many of the non-profit agency's clients.

"A really important thing for all you guys, especially parents that have children outside, is to tell your neighbours," she told the audience. "… If you have anybody you know wants to bring their children and sponsor them, now you have three more years."

Sukh Dhaliwal, the MP for nearby Surrey-Newton, stayed to talk with newcomers and staff over doughnuts afterwards. Immigrant and refugee youth on couches at the back of the room came forward to talk with the two officials — and didn't hesitate to share their thoughts after Aldag told them local MPs' offices often help with immigration and settlement issues.

"You have my ear," Aldag told them. He added that raising the sponsorship age was just "one small piece" of his Liberals' newly in-force immigration legislation, which his government passed in May. And for adult children with mental health condition or other disability, families can now apply to have them considered "dependent" older than 22, he noted.

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