Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C)
Humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) consideration provides the flexibility to grant permanent residence status or a permanent resident visa to certain foreign nationals who would otherwise not qualify in any class, in cases in which there are compelling H&C grounds. Humanitarian and compassionate grounds apply to people with exceptional cases.
Factors for H&C consideration
The applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis. Several factors are considered in the application process, including:
- How settled the person is in Canada?
- General family ties to Canada
- The best interests of any children involved, and
- What could happen to the applicant if request is not granted?
- Factors in applicant’s country of origin including adverse country conditions.
- Applicant’s health considerations including inability of a country to provide medical treatment.
- Family violence considerations.
- Consequences of the separation of relatives.
- Any unique or exceptional circumstances that might merit relief.
The H&C decision-making process is a highly discretionary one that considers whether a special grant of an exemption from a requirement of the Act is warranted. This means that officers have a lot of freedom in deciding these applications. Officer’s decision is based on evidence and information provided in the submission. The onus is entirely upon the applicant to be clear in the submission as to exactly what hardship they would face if they were not granted the requested exemption(s). Because there is usually no interview, it is important to send the best possible evidence to support the application and explain all the reasons to stay in Canada.
Reasons for applying under H&C grounds
People usually apply for H&C for two main reasons (e.g. hardship and risk).
Hardship refers to a situation that would cause you serious problems or suffering. You may decide to apply for H&C if you would face hardship if forced to leave Canada and return to your home country.
Medical problems do not usually make your case stronger unless you or a family member risks death because your home country does not offer adequate or appropriate medical treatment. If this is your situation, you must include information about the medical condition in your H&C application, as well as medical information from experts in your home country confirming the danger you or your family member faces if forced to return to your home country.
To prove you would face hardship if deported to your home country you must show you are already well established in Canada. Consider the following factors that contribute to your level of establishment in Canada.
- The amount of time you have lived in Canada (the longer the better).
- The amount of time you have spent collecting welfare (it is highly recommended you never collect welfare. An immigration officer can use this as a reason to deny your claim).
- Your language skills in English/French and your efforts to improve them.
- Your efforts to improve your education and skills while in Canada.
- The number of family members/relatives you have in Canada (the more the better).
- How much contact you have with family in Canada (the more the better).
- How much contact you have with family in your home country (having many close relatives in your home country suggests less hardship if you returned).
- Canadian-born children (good) or children still living in your home country (not good).
- Contacts in Canada other than family
- Jobs you have had in Canada and tax you have paid.
- Your present job and the length of your employment.
- Your assets in Canada, including your family home, RSPs, RESPs, bank accounts, investment accounts, business vehicles (the more assets the better).
- Your assets abroad (the less the better).
- Your community involvement (religious or non-religious) and volunteer work
- Positive reference letters from people in your workplace, school, volunteer organization, religious community, etc
- Your financial or cultural contributions to Canada.
- The specific hardships you/your family face in your home country.
- If you are a woman, the difficulties you face in your home country.
Risk means a serious possibility any of the following might happen to you if you are forced to leave Canada for your home country. You must prove you face one or more of these risks.
Persecution (e.g. being treated badly due to your political or religious beliefs)
- Risk to life
- Risk of cruel or unusual punishment
Risk of persecution
A Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) officer will review any H&C application containing information about the risks of having to leave Canada. You will not be deported until the PRRA officer has reviewed your application and made a decision.
Poor educational facilities and the possibility of unemployment in your home country are not proof of risk. To determine risk, PRRA officers will only consider new evidence. They can, however, consider important evidence that was not available at the time of your refugee hearing, including medical evidence of torture or evidence of conditions in your home country that affect you. If you are at risk of persecution but have not made a refugee claim, consider making one now. In addition to Convention refugees, Canada protects people who may not fit the UN refugee definition.
If you have children, include opinion letters about them in your H&C application. School counselors, community health workers, family doctors, teachers, social workers, or psychologists can write letters about the negative mental/physical effects returning to your home country would have on your children. The officer who review your application must consider “the best interests of the child,” i.e. whether your child/children are better off staying in Canada or going
back to your home country with you. The officer will determine how close your children’s ties are to Canada based on whether or not they were born in Canada, whether or not they attend(ed) school in Canada and whether or not they have ever been to your home country.
Limits on Humanitarian and Compassionate Consideration
- Applicant cannot apply for humanitarian and compassionate grounds if he/she has a pending refugee claim. If applicant wants to apply under H&C grounds, he/she must withdraw his/her refugee claim before Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) hearing.
- Applicant cannot apply for humanitarian and compassionate grounds if they had a negative decision from the IRB within the last 12 months. This is called the “one-year bar.” (If the IRB decides refugee claim is abandoned or withdrawn, that counts as a negative decision.) The bar does not apply if:
- Applicants have children under 18 years, and who would be adversely affected if the applicant were removed from Canada, or
- Applicants have proof that they or their dependents suffer from a life-threatening medical condition that cannot be treated in their home country.
- The applicant cannot apply for humanitarian and compassionate grounds until five years have passed since:
- The day they became a designated foreign national and/or
- The IRB made a final negative decision on their refugee claim and/or
- The applicant got a negative decision on a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment.
- If the applicant applied for humanitarian and compassionate grounds and then became a designated foreign national, his/her humanitarian and compassionate grounds application will be suspended for five years from the date:
- They were designated, or
- They got a negative decision from the IRB, or
- They got a negative Pre-Removal Risk Assessment decision.
- If applicant has an order to leave Canada (this is called a removal order), he/she may be able to apply to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, unless any of the above restrictions apply to them. If the applicant applies, this will not prevent or delay the removal from Canada. The applicant must leave on or before the date stated on removal order. The government will still process the application even the applicant has to leave Canada. There is no right to appeal a refused application for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. In some cases, the applicant can ask the Federal Court of Canada to review the decision.
- The applicant may only ask for humanitarian and compassionate grounds if he/she is applying for permanent resident status in Canada, or for a permanent resident visa abroad
- Applicant cannot have more than one humanitarian and compassionate grounds application at the same time.
- Different risk factors such as persecution, risk to life, cruel and unusual treatment or punishment are not assessed under H&C grounds.
- An H&C application does not prevent you from being deported, unless you are
waiting for a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA).
22 – 36 months. Check processing times.
- Processing fee ($550.00 CAD)
- Right of Permanent Resident fee ($500.00 CAD)
- Spouse or principle applicant ($1050.00 CAD)
- Dependent Child: ($150.00 CAD per child)
- Biometric fee ($85.00 CAD per person)