What is an Humanitarian & Compassionate (H&C) Application?
An H&C application is an application for permanent residence in Canada.
In general, people must apply for permanent residence from outside Canada. In some cases, it is possible to ask Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to make an exception to this rule. An H&C application asks IRCC to allow the applicant to apply for permanent residence in Canada for humanitarian and compassionate reasons.
There are 2 stages of approval. A successful applicant will be:
- Allowed to apply for permanent residence in Canada for humanitarian and compassionate reasons (“approval-in-principle”), and
- Approved for permanent resident status in Canada.
An applicant who is approved at the first stage could still be refused at the second stage if they do not meet the requirements for permanent resident status.
What are Humanitarian and Compassionate Reasons?
An H&C applicant can give any reasons that they believe will support their application.
Anything that makes others feel compassion and want to help can be the basis for a successful H&C application. For example, the hardship an applicant will face if they have to return to their home country is often a reason that is used. If there is a child who would be directly affected if the applicant had to return to their home country, IRCC must consider what is in the child’s best interests.
Some of the things that an applicant might give as reasons include:
- how established or settled they are in Canada
- their ties to Canada, including family ties
- what would happen if family members were separated
- their physical health or mental health concerns
- the impact on their lives of family violence they have experienced or will experience if they have to return to their home country
- hardship or difficulties they might face if they were sent back to their own country
How is the Decision on an H&C Application Made?
The decision on an H&C application is “discretionary”. This means that immigration officers have a lot of freedom in deciding these applications. But they must base their decisions on the evidence and they must consider all of the evidence as a whole when deciding whether the application is strong enough.
Because there is usually no interview, it is important to:
- Send the best possible evidence to support the application, and
- Explain all of the reasons to stay in Canada.
If there are mistakes in the application or the supporting evidence is not strong, the application may be denied.
In many cases, an H&C application is based on the hardship the applicant would face if they had to leave Canada. Examples of hardship or difficulties that an applicant might face in their own country could include:
- A lack of adequate health care
- Discrimination based on religion, gender, or something else
- Laws, practices or customs in a woman’s home country that might put her at risk of abuse or social stigma
IRCC cannot look at risks in the same way the Immigration and Refugee Board does when it decides a refugee claim. But the same situation that puts someone at risk may also be a reason for a successful H&C application. For example, a woman who is at risk because of an abusive spouse in her home country may also be able to show H&C reasons she should not be forced to return to that country. An Immigration Consultant may be able to present her case in a way that shows H&C reasons rather than risk.
Best interests of a child
IRCC must consider the best interests of any child under the age of 18 who could be directly affected by the decision on the application. This could include:
- Your own child, no matter where the child was born or where they live, whether in Canada or elsewhere
- A child in Canada who is not your child but with whom you have a close relationship
In some situations, this could include a child who is 18 or older.
Some of the things that could have an impact on the best interests of a child include:
- The child’s age
- The relationship between the child and you or between the child and others — for example, if the child is forced to leave with you, this could affect the child’s relationship with others in Canada
- How long the child has been in Canada
- The child’s ties to your country of origin
- Any medical issues or special needs
- Impact on the child’s education
- Issues relating to a child’s gender — for example, customs that girls and women in the woman’s country of origin have to follow
IRCC must pay close attention to the child’s interests when it decides whether the reasons to accept an H&C application are strong enough. Some things may have a much greater impact on a child than on an adult. So the same facts might make an H&C application stronger if a child would be affected.
Establishment in Canada
Being established or settled in Canada increases an applicant’s chances of success. To show that you are established, your application could refer to such things as:
- How long you have lived in Canada
- Why you have been living in Canada
- Your work history in Canada
- Your level of education
- Your skills and training
- Volunteer work done in Canada
- Your ability to speak English or French
- Any children born in Canada
- Family members here who are willing and able to help you
- Any assets or savings you have in Canada
If you got social assistance, you should explain why you needed it.
Evidence in support of an H&C Application
An H&C application will not succeed without supporting evidence. The kind of evidence needed depends on the facts of the case. An Immigration Consultant preparing the H&C application can suggest what evidence is useful.
What happens after an H&C Application is made?
H&C applications can be decided within a few months. Or it can take longer. IRCC has said that they will process H&C applications more quickly in cases of family violence.
Making an H&C application does not give an applicant the right to remain in Canada until the application is decided. Before applying, you should get advice to find out about the risk of being forced to leave the country.
Get in Touch for more information or applying for Permanent Residence on Humanitarian & Compassionate Grounds.