Determining Your Eligibility For Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds
You’ve been living in Canada for some time, you have friends and family here, and are overall well established and have built a life as a Canadian. Your children have also been going to school and have become integrated in Canadian society. However, your refugee claim may have been refused and you have no other viable immigration option.
If you meet the requirements for permanent residence application under Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) grounds and you are able to maintain your legal status in Canada in the meantime, this may be a path for you to pursue to remain permanently in Canada.
However, applications for permanent residency based on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds are only granted if you can convince the Officer that you have a deserving case and an exception should be made. Therefore, it’s important to have knowledge about how it works along with a lawyer to help guide you through the application process and provide sufficient supporting documentation.
But first, to help you better understand this process, we’ll explain what H&C grounds are, how the process works, and outline the eligibility requirements for immigrants looking to obtain permanent residency through this channel.
What is a Humanitarian and Compassionate PR Application?
The H&C PR application is a pathway available for people who have made Canada their home and established close ties to their community but lack legal status and are not eligible to apply for permanent residency through other channels.
An application for permanent residency based on H&C grounds requires applicants to demonstrate to the courts that they have compelling reasons for remaining in Canada based on their establishment, separation from family members in Canada, best interest of their child and hardship they would suffer in their home country, also taking into account the country’s current conditions.
Who Qualifies for Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds?
Applicants most likely to have their H&C applications approved will be able to demonstrate that they meet some of the following criteria:
- Being established or settled in Canada
- Whether you have children or other dependents living with you in Canada that would be affected
- Having physical or mental health concerns
- You have a family relation to Canadian citizens or permanent residents
- Employment in Canada (even without a valid work permit)
- Completion of education in Canada
- You have done volunteer work in Canada
- Proficiency in English or French
- Financial savings and property in Canada
- Social ties to Canada and your community
- You would experience severe hardship or difficulties if you returned to your home country
Who Doesn’t Qualify for H&C?
In some cases, you may not be eligible for H&C grounds. So, if you fall under any of the following, your H&C application will be refused.
- You are applying for permanent resident status outside of Canada
- You are a temporary resident applicant
- You have made more than one humanitarian and compassionate grounds application at the same time
- You have listed risk factors such as persecution, risk to life, cruel and unusual treatment or punishment in your application
- You have a pending refugee claim
- You have had a negative decision from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada within the last 12 months
About the Application Process
How Do I Apply?
In order to apply for permanent residence based on H&C grounds, you will need to fill out the correct application forms from within Canada and provide supporting documentation that demonstrates any of the factors listed above.
Once you have completed the application package and paid the government processing fee, you will be able to submit your application by mail.
It’s important to remember that decisions made on an H&C application are "discretionary," which means that immigration officers can refuse or approve cases based on their own judgement and assessment. However, they must still base their decisions on all the evidence made available.
Therefore, documentary evidence will become one of the most important factors in your H&C Application.
While putting together your application, it is critical that you begin collecting documentation and pieces of evidence that will support your application and demonstrate your strong ties to Canada. Examples of documentary evidence that can be provided include:
- Letters from friends and family members in Canada
- Proof of employment or job offer
- Evidence that demonstrates hardship in your country of origin
- Information about your children and their education in Canada
- Medical records
- Bank records
- Police reports in instances of family violence
- Photos of you spending time with family and friends in Canada
It is also crucial that you prepare a strong submission letter to support your Humanitarian and Compassionate application. This letter should explain all of the arguments you are presenting to persuade the immigration officer to accept your application.
How Long Does the Application Take to Process?
Once your application is submitted comes the hard part – waiting, which is not a speedy process. On average, H&C applications can take around 24 – 36 months to process. However, it can sometimes take even longer than this depending on your case.
Throughout the duration of the application process, you will be able to remain in Canada as you await a decision on your case. During this time, any travel outside of Canada is not recommended, as you may be called upon for an interview, and/or to provide additional documentation.
What Happens If My Application Is Approved?
If your application is accepted, congratulations! You are now set to become a permanent resident in Canada. Afterward, you will be asked to undergo an immigration medical exam and obtain police clearance. Once this is completed, you will be able to pick up your Canadian Permanent Residence Card (PR Card).
What Happens If My Application Is Refused?
If your application is refused, you will be able to appeal to the Federal Court of Canada. However, you must act quickly, as time is of the essence in these situations. Once your refusal has been issued, you will only have 15 days to file a judicial review leave application to the Federal Court. This is a complex process that requires advocacy from an immigration lawyer.
The Importance of Seeking Help from An Immigration Lawyer
If you are facing removal from Canada and are looking to file for permanent residency based on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds, it is vital that you work with an immigration lawyer to help ensure the success of your application.
Filing a Humanitarian and Compassionate PR application does not in itself grant you status to remain in Canada. You must maintain your temporary legal status in Canada while the application is pending. Otherwise, CBSA may ask you to leave Canada which then would require you to request a deferral of your removal until your Humanitarian and Compassionate PR application has been decided. That too is a discretionary decision by the removal officer, which may not be granted, and may require you to bring an application to Federal Court to challenge a negative decision, along with a stay of removal motion.