Close up of woman applying for visa in immigration office

Grounds for Humanitarian and Compassionate Application

Michael Golden Law Corporation May 7, 2024

Obtaining permanent residence in Canada is a dream come true for many people across the world. However, not everyone is eligible to become a permanent resident due to the strict eligibility requirements set forth by the law. If this sounds like your situation, there may still be a way for you to accomplish your dream.  

You may be able to apply for permanent residence in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) grounds. However, applying on H&C grounds can be a complicated undertaking that requires proper documentation and adherence to the rules. That is why you may need to consider contacting an experienced immigration lawyer to guide you through the process.  

At Michael Golden Law Corporation, we provide a full range of individual immigration services to foreign nationals both inside and outside of Canada. These services include helping individuals obtain permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. From our office in Burnaby, we serve clients throughout Vancouver, Coquitlam, and Surrey, British Columbia.  

What Is a Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) Application?

A humanitarian and compassionate application (H&C) allows foreign nations to apply for permanent residence in Canada when they are not otherwise eligible under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (“IRPA”).  

However, applying on the grounds of humanitarian and compassionate consideration is not just another means of obtaining permanent residence in Canada. H&C applications can only be made as an exceptional measure and are assessed on a case-by-case basis.  

According to the Government of Canada’s official website, the acceptance rate of In-Canada H&C applications was 60% in 2018, with over 3,700 people being admitted to the country based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds that year.  

People who do not meet the eligibility requirements to apply for permanent residence in Canada through traditional immigration programs and can apply on the grounds of humanitarian and compassionate consideration are categorized into:  

  1. Individuals who have acquired a considerable degree of establishment in Canada due to living in the country for a long period

  1. Individuals who have been excluded from being a member of the family because their sponsor (a permanent resident) did not include them in their application forms

  1. Individuals with a criminal record that makes them inadmissible to Canada

  1. Individuals with a medical condition that affects their admissibility

  1. Individuals who cannot get proper medical treatment for their condition in their home country

  1. Individuals facing risks in their home country, including persecution

Decisions made on H&C applications are discretionary, which means immigration officers who review those applications have considerable freedom when approving or denying them. However, any decision made by the officer must be based on all the evidence submitted by the applicant.  

Factors Considered in Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) Applications

When reviewing humanitarian and compassionate applications, immigration officers consider a variety of factors to decide if the applicant’s circumstances are extraordinary enough to make them eligible for permanent resident status as an exception. These factors include but are not limited to:  

  • A degree of establishment in Canada (in-Canada applications)

  • The ability to establish in Canada (overseas applications)

  • Ties to Canada

  • Risks faced in the home country (prosecution, adverse conditions, etc.) 

  • Family violence considerations

  • Health considerations (e.g., inability to get proper treatment in the home country)

  • The best interests of any children that could be affected by the officer’s decision

  • The separation of relatives and its consequences

  • Any other exceptional circumstances

The IRPA does not define the terms “humanitarian” and “compassionate,” which is why immigration officers have considerable discretion when deciding whether to approve or deny an H&C application.  

Who Is Not Eligible to Apply On Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds? 

While individuals can apply for permanent residence in Canada on H&C grounds when otherwise ineligible to do so, the law sets two bars to submitting humanitarian and compassionate applications:  

  1. Failed refugee claimants face a 12-month bar on applying for H&C consideration if the claimant withdraws their claim (and there is a final decision) or they receive a negative decision by the Refugee Protection Division or the Refugee Appeal Division  

  1. Designated foreign national refugee claimants are barred from filing an H&C application for five years from the date of their designation, the Refugee Appeal Division’s final decision, or a negative decision for a pre-removal risk assessment.  

The first bar does not apply to (a) claimants with minor children if the claimant’s removal would adversely affect the kids or (b) claimants or their dependents who are unable to treat their life-threatening medical condition in the home country.  

If you are unsure whether you are eligible to apply on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, connect with our Michael Golden Law Corporation lawyers for a personalized case evaluation.  

The Humanitarian & Compassionate Application Process

If you are considering applying for permanent residence in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, it's important to understand the required steps to become a permanent resident through an H&C application:  

  1. Overcoming ineligibility or inadmissibility. Upon receiving the application, the immigration officer assigned to the case assesses the applicant’s circumstances in light of their inadmissibility, which must be disclosed by the applicant. If the applicant fails to disclose they are inadmissible and their inadmissibility is discovered during the H&C application process, the application may be dismissed.  

  1. Applying for permanent residency. Once the H&C application is approved, the applicant can proceed with applying for permanent residence. To do so, the applicant must have a passport (unless any exemptions apply), must be deemed admissible, and must meet all the requirements set forth by the IRPA.  

Before permanent residence is granted to the applicant, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service will have to perform a routine security screening while the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will screen the applicant’s criminal records. An applicant is only allowed to have one humanitarian and compassionate application at a time.  

The Trusted Guidance You Need

Our immigration lawyers at Michael Golden Law Corporation assist foreign nationals who reside in Canada with applying for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.  

We can help you with preparing your application, advise on what evidence would be useful to strengthen your application, and help you navigate the ins and outs of the legal system. Connect with us today to discuss your situation and discover the strategies tailored to your goals.