What are Humanitarian and Compassionate Applications

Humanitarian and Compassionate Applications, commonly referred to as H&C applications, are permanent residence applications filed from within Canada. These applications are intended for individuals who lack immigration status in Canada but have established themselves. If you or someone you know is residing in Canada without appropriate documentation, there are viable avenues to explore. An H&C application could lead to acquiring Canadian permanent residence status.

H&C applications are applications for permanent residence from within Canada based on humanitarian grounds. Humanitarian or H&C grounds are a global assessment of all H&C factors. H&C factors include establishment in Canada, thee best interests of any child directly affected by the application, hardship or adverse country conditions the Applicant would be exposed to if left Canada etc. (see below).

H&C applications are an exceptional measures that allow immigration authorities to grant exemptions from the requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) or Regulations to deserving cases that are not covered by the legislation.

H&C applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all the relevant factors and circumstances of the applicant. The decision on an H&C application is discretionary and final, and there is no guarantee of approval.

This article will explain what H&C applications are, who can apply for them, how to apply for them, and what factors are considered in the assessment of H&C applications.

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Who Qualifies for Humanitarian and Compassionate?

Applicants can use the H&C application to receive Canadian PR on humanitarian and compassionate grounds if you:

You CAN apply for permanent residence under H&C if you:

  • are a foreign national currently living in Canada without immigration status. Foreign Nationals commonly applicable for an H&C application include:
    • Overstay of Visitor Visa who have remained in Canada for a long period of time
    • Former study permit holders who remained in Canada after expiry of immigration status
    • Refused Refugee Claimants whose 12 year bar has expired
    • Former temporary foreign workers wh remained in Canada after expiry of work permit (Caregivers, Seasonal Farmers who remained in Canada, any worker)
  • need an exemption from one or more requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) or Regulations in order to apply for Canadian PR
  • believe humanitarian and compassionate considerations justify granting the exemption(s)

You CANNOT apply permanent residence under H&C if you:

  • are a refugee claimant or have a pending refugee claim;
  • have been refused refugee protection in the last 12 months;
  • are inadmissible for security, human or international rights violations, serious criminality, or organized criminality reasons;
  • have submitted an H&C application for which a decision has not been made
  • are a permanent resident or Canadian citizen.

NOTE: This program is not for those who seek protection. If you are seeking protection to avoid persecution, danger, etc. the refugee protection program is applicable. 

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How to apply for H&C applications?

To apply for an H&C application, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Fill out the application forms and gather the supporting documents. You can find the application package and the instruction guide here. Now you need to fill out the application in the PR portal. You will need to fill out the following forms online:
    • Generic Application Form for Canada (IMM 0008)
    • Schedule A – Background/Declaration (IMM 5669)
    • Additional Family Information (IMM 5406)
    • Humanitarian and Compassionate Considerations (IMM 5283)
    • You also need to provide documents to prove your identity, status, education, work, income, family, and H&C grounds. You may need to provide translations if your documents are not in English or French.
  2. Pay the application fees and the biometric fees. You need to pay the processing fee of $550 for yourself and each of your dependants, and the right of permanent residence fee of $515 for yourself and your spouse or common-law partner. You also need to pay the biometric fee of $85 for yourself and each of your dependants, unless you are exempt. You can pay the fees online here.
  3. Submit your application online. You can submit your application online through the Permanent Residence Online Application Portal here. You need to sign in or create an account, upload your forms and documents, and pay your fees.
  4. Wait for the processing of your application and provide updates. The processing time of your application may vary depending on the complexity of your case and the volume of applications. You can check the status of your application online here. You may be asked to provide additional information, such as police certificates, medical exams, or interviews. You must comply with these requests within the given deadlines.
  5. Receive the decision on your application and complete the final steps. If your application is approved, you will receive a confirmation of permanent residence. You will also receive instructions on how to complete the landing process and become a permanent resident. If your application is refused, you will receive a refusal letter explaining the reasons for the decision and your options to appeal or re-apply.

What factors are considered in the assessment of H&C applications?

The assessment of H&C applications is based on a balance of all the relevant factors and circumstances of the applicant. There is no fixed formula or checklist for determining the outcome of an H&C application. However, some of the common factors that are considered are:

This refers to the degree of integration and contribution of the applicant to Canadian society through employment, education, community involvement, language skills, and ties to Canada. It may include aspects such as:

  • Employment history and financial stability
  • Education and language skills
  • Community involvement and volunteer work
  • Social connections and support network
  • Civil record and compliance with Canadian laws

Establishment in Canada is more relevant for applicants who have lived and built a life in Canada for a long period of time. However, it may also apply to applicants who lack extended periods in Canada but have strong ties to Canada, such as previous residence, family members, or business interests.

The degree of establishment required to justify an H&C exemption may vary depending on the facts of each case. There is no minimum or maximum threshold for establishment, but rather a global assessment of all the factors that show the applicant’s connection and contribution to Canada. For example, a person who has been living in Canada for a few years, has a stable job, pays taxes, speaks English or French, and participates in community activities may have a stronger case than a person who has been living in Canada for a longer time, but has no employment, no language skills, no social network, and a criminal record.

Tip – Supporting Documents

Be sure to include documents that show your intergration and history in Canada.
– Employment Documents: Employment letters, pay stubs, tax returns.
– Education and language skills: Diplomas, transcripts, or language test results.
– Community involvement/ Volunteer work: Certificates, awards, or letters from organizations.
– Social connections and support network: Letters from friends, neighbours, or community members.

Hardship refers to the difficulties or suffering that an applicant would face if they had to leave Canada or comply with the requirements of the IRPA or its regulations. It may include aspects such as:

  • Discrimination, violence, or human rights violations
  • Medical conditions and access to health care
  • Economic, social, or political instability
  • Family separation and reunification

Hardship is an important factor for applicants who are living in Canada and would have to return to their country of origin or apply for permanent residence from abroad. These are usually adverse country conditions the Applicant would be exposed to in their home country including discrimination, exposure to violence, economic instability such as inability to support self or family.

The level of hardship required to justify an H&C exemption may vary depending on the facts of each case. There is no minimum or maximum threshold for hardship, but rather a global assessment of all the factors that show the impact and severity of the hardship on the applicant and their family. For example, a person who would face a life-threatening illness, discrimination, or a prolonged family separation may have a stronger case than a person who would face inconvenience, cost, or delay in applying for permanent residence from abroad.

Tip – Supporting Documents

– Adverse Country Conditions: You can also include documents that show the economic, social, or political instability that you or your family members would face in your country of origin such as economic statistics, country reports from international organizations, or personal statements.
– Medicals Reports: Documents that show the medical conditions and access to health care that you or your family members would face if you had to leave Canada or apply from abroad, such as medical reports, prescriptions, or letters from doctors.
Discrimination: Country Reports, Newspaper articles or personal statments that show the discrimination, violence, or human rights violations that you or your family members would face in your country of origin.
– Hardship Caused by Seperation: Include documents or letters from family members that outline the family separation and reunification that you or your family members would face if you had to leave Canada or apply from abroad.

Best interests of the child refers to the well-being and welfare of any child who is directly affected by the H&C decision. It may include aspects such as:

  • Physical, mental, and emotional health and development
  • Education and future opportunities
  • Family and social relationships
  • Cultural and linguistic identity
  • Safety and security

Best interests of the child is usually more relevant for applicants who have children or who are children themselves. However, it may also apply to applicants who have other relationships with children, such as siblings, grandparents, or guardians.

The weight of the best interests of the child is important and should be a primary consideration in an H&C application. There is no minimum or maximum threshold for the best interests of the child, but rather a global assessment of all the factors that show how the H&C decision would affect the child’s life and prospects. For example, a child who would face significant disruption, trauma, or harm as a result of the H&C decision may have a stronger case than a child who would face minimal or manageable changes.

Tip – Supporting Documents

You can include documents that show the physical, mental, and emotional health and development of any child who is directly affected by the H&C decision, such as medical reports, prescriptions, or letters from doctors, teachers, or counsellors. You can also include documents that show the education and future opportunities of any child who is directly affected by the H&C decision, such as school records, report cards, or letters from teachers or schools. You can also include documents that show the family and social relationships of any child who is directly affected by the H&C decision, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, or letters from family members, friends, or community members. You can also include documents that show the cultural and linguistic identity of any child who is directly affected by the H&C decision, such as passports, citizenship certificates, or letters from cultural or religious organizations. You can also include documents that show the safety and security of any child who is directly affected by the H&C decision, such as police certificates, court documents, or letters from authorities or organizations.

De facto family members are people who do not meet the definition of a family class member, but who have a situation of dependence that makes them a de facto member of a nuclear family that is either in Canada or applying to immigrate. They may include:

  • Adult children, siblings, or other relatives who are alone and rely on the applicant for support
  • Elderly relatives or unrelated persons who have lived with the family for a long time and depend on them for care
  • Children in a guardianship relationship when adoption is not possible

De facto family members are usually more relevant for applicants who have family members who are not eligible to be sponsored or included in their application. However, they may also apply to applicants who have family members who are eligible but face barriers or delays in their immigration process.

The importance of de facto family members in an H&C assessment may vary depending on the facts of each case. There is no minimum or maximum threshold for de facto family members, but rather a global assessment of all the factors that show the nature and extent of the dependency and the impact of the separation. For example, a person who has a de facto family member who is elderly, disabled, or orphaned and who has no other support or options may have a stronger case than a person who has a de facto family member who is young, healthy, or independent and who has other family or opportunities.

Tip – Supporting Documents

You can include documents that show the situation of dependence that makes a person a de facto member of your nuclear family, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, or letters from family members, friends, or community members. You can also include documents that show the degree of mutual dependence and support between you and your de facto family member, such as financial records, bills, or letters from family members, friends, or community members. You can also include documents that show the impact of the separation or the reunification on you and your de facto family member, such as medical reports, prescriptions, or letters from doctors, teachers, or counsellors.

Family relationships refer to the ties and bonds that an applicant has with their family members, both in Canada and abroad. They may include:

  • Spouses, common-law partners, or conjugal partners
  • Dependent children or children to be adopted
  • Parents, grandparents, or other relatives
  • Family members who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents
  • Family members who are inadmissible or ineligible to immigrate

Family relationships are usually relevant for all applicants, as they reflect their personal and emotional circumstances. However, they may be more important for applicants who have family members who are affected by the H&C decision or who have special needs or vulnerabilities.

The significance of family relationships in an H&C assessment may vary depending on the facts of each case. There is no minimum or maximum threshold for family relationships, but rather a global assessment of all the factors that show the quality and strength of the relationships and the consequences of the separation or reunification. For example, a person who has a close and loving relationship with their spouse and children and who would face a long or indefinite separation may have a stronger case than a person who has a distant or abusive relationship with their spouse and children and who would face a short or temporary separation.

Tip – Supporting Documents

You can include documents that show the situation of dependence that makes a person a de facto member of your nuclear family, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, or letters from family members, friends, or community members. You can also include documents that show the degree of mutual dependence and support between you and your de facto family member, such as financial records, bills, or letters from family members, friends, or community members. You can also include documents that show the impact of the separation or the reunification on you and your de facto family member, such as medical reports, prescriptions, or letters from doctors, teachers, or counsellors.
  • ties to Canada;
  • factors in your country of origin this includes but is not limited to: Medical inadequacies, discrimination that does not amount to persecution and harassment
  • health considerations;
  • family violence considerations;
  • consequences of the separation of relatives;
  • inability to leave Canada has led to establishment; and/or
  • any other relevant factor they wish to have considered

These factors are not exhaustive or exclusive, and other factors may also be relevant depending on the specific case. The weight and significance of each factor may vary depending on the evidence and the context. The immigration authorities will assess the overall merits of the application and decide whether there are sufficient and compelling H&C grounds to warrant an exemption from the requirements of the IRPA or Regulations.

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Tips for submitting H&C Applications

  • Be honest and consistent: You should provide truthful and accurate information in your application and supporting documents. You should also avoid any contradictions or inconsistencies in your statements or evidence. If there are any changes or updates in your situation, you should inform the immigration authorities as soon as possible. Lying or misrepresenting facts can lead to the refusal of your application or even criminal charges.
  • Be clear and convincing: You should explain your H&C grounds in a clear and convincing manner with supporting documentation. You should provide specific examples and details that demonstrate how your circumstances warrant special consideration. You should also address any potential weaknesses or challenges in your case and provide reasons or evidence to overcome them. You should avoid vague or general statements that do not show your personal situation or hardship.
  • Be comprehensive and relevant: You should provide comprehensive and relevant evidence to support your H&C grounds. You should include documents that show your establishment in Canada, your hardship, the best interests of the child, your de facto family members, and your family relationships. You should also include documents that show the country conditions and the risks that you or your family would face if you had to leave Canada or apply from abroad. You should also include documents that show the positive impact that your stay in Canada would have on yourself, your family, and the Canadian society.
  • Be organized and timely: You should organize your application and documents in a logical and coherent way. You should follow the instructions and guidelines provided by the immigration authorities. You should also submit your application and documents in a timely manner. You should also respond to any requests for additional information or interviews within the given deadlines. You should also keep copies of your application and documents for your own records.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does The Application Take To Process?

The processing period for these applications typically spans 12 to 18 months, and occasionally longer, contingent on the specifics of the case. Throughout the application process, the applicant remains in Canada with their current status pending a decision. It’s advisable not to travel outside Canada during the H&C process.

What Is The Procedure for H & C Applications?

Completing the application forms and assembling supporting documentation that illustrates the aforementioned factors is imperative for a strong H&C application. Once the application package is completed and the government processing fee is acquired, submission can proceed. This package should encompass a meticulous submission letter that elaborates on all the H&C aspects pertinent to the applicant, establishing the reasons for the case’s approval by the assessing immigration officer. It’s crucial to note that H&C cases are at the discretion of the assessing immigration officer, who holds the authority to either approve or decline based on their own evaluation. Hence, the creation of a compelling submission letter and the collection of persuasive supporting documentation are of utmost importance to bolster the Humanitarian and Compassionate Application.

What Happens If My H & C Application Is Approved?

If your Humanitarian and Compassionate application is approved, you will be asked to undergo immigration medical exams and obtain police clearances. Once the medicals and police clearances are passed, you will be called in to pick up your Canadian Permanent Residence Card (PR Card).

What Happens If My H & C Application is Refused?

If your Humanitarian and Compassionate application is refused, then it is essential to act fast! You have only 15 days to appeal the refusal to the Federal Court of Canada. Appealing to the Federal Court involves showing the judge that the immigration officer who refused your case made some errors in law and/or fact. This is not an easy job. However, success is indeed possible. Immigration officers do make mistakes!

Why Hire Us to Help with Your H & C Application?

If you find yourself without legal status in Canada, there are options to attain immigration status. The process of applying for H&C cases can be intricate, and those who opt to proceed without the guidance of an immigration lawyer often encounter avoidable difficulties. In the realm of H&Cs, the specter of deportation is a genuine concern. This underscores the importance of entrusting a legal team specialized in H&C cases to provide the optimal opportunity for remaining in Canada and attaining legal residency. Our track record includes aiding numerous individuals in their successful immigration to Canada through the Humanitarian and Compassionate application. Our seasoned immigration lawyers possess the expertise to evaluate your situation and offer tailored recommendations to cater to your requirements.