PERMANENT RESIDENCE IN CANADA: Do you qualify on Humanitarian & Compassionate Grounds?
Has Canada become your home even though you don’t have valid immigration status? You may qualify for permanent residence in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
In this post, we’ll look at:
- What is a Humanitarian and Compassionate Permanent Residence Application?
- Who qualifies for Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds?
- How does the application process work?
Let’s take a closer look at this option for permanent residency in Canada.
What is a Humanitarian & Compassionate Permanent Residence Application?
The Humanitarian and Compassionate Permanent Residence application (H&C) is a pathway to permanent residency for people already in Canada. This application requests an exception to the immigration laws requiring application from outside of Canada.
This is an alternative for people who lack valid immigration status or eligibility to apply for permanent residency through other channels. An applicant must provide compelling reasons to stay in Canada.
Do you qualify for humanitarian & compassionate grounds?
Any person who has been living in Canada without valid immigration status can apply for permanent residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. For example, someone with an expired visa or someone whose refugee claim was denied.
However, there are criteria that must be met. An applicant must be able to demonstrate some of the following:
- You are established or settled in Canada with social ties to the country and your community
- You have children or dependents living with you in Canada who would be negatively affected if you leave Canada
- You have a family relation with Canadian citizenship or permanent residency
- You have employment in Canada (with or without a valid work permit)
- You have completed education in Canada
- You have done volunteer work in Canada
- You are proficient in English or French
- You have property or financial assets in Canada
- You have health concerns (physical or mental)
- A return to your home country would cause excessive hardship for you (far beyond cost and convenience)
You cannot apply for an H&C if any of the following applies to you:
- You are awaiting a decision on your refugee claim
- Your refugee claim was denied within the past 12 months (unless you have a life-threatening medical condition or you have a dependent child who would be harmed by a return to your home country)
- You’ve withdrawn a refugee claim within the past 12 months
- You want permanent resident status outside of Canada
- You’ve applied for temporary residency
- You were deemed a Designated Foreign National within the past 5 years
If you apply under any of these circumstances, your application will be denied.
How does the H&C application process work?
The H&C application process is simple, but it takes time. Here are the key steps in applying for permanent residency in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
Step 1: Fill out the application
The first step in the H&C application process is to fill out the application forms and gather the necessary supporting documents that demonstrate your eligibility. (More on this below.)
Step 2: Pay the fee & submit the application
Submitting your application requires a government processing fee. Once you’ve paid that online, you can send in your application by mail along with the receipt for the required fees.
Step 3: Wait
The next step is waiting. The H&C application process is not quick, typically taking 24-36 months to process. It is recommended that you stay in Canada during this time in case the government needs to contact you or requests additional information.
Step 4: Approval or denial of your application
If your application is approved, you will be required to undergo an immigration medical exam and get a police clearance. Once you’ve completed those two things, you’ll be permitted to pick up your Canada Permanent Residence Card! What a day that will be!
If your application is denied, you have the option to appeal within 15 days by filing a judicial review leave application to the Federal Court of Canada. This will require an immigration lawyer.
3 Factors to Decide on Application for Permanent Residence on Humanitarian & Compassionate Grounds
Immigration officers look at various factors to decide on your H&C application, but these are the 3 key factors:
- Have you established yourself in Canada and made it your home?
- Is staying in Canada in the best interests of your child or dependents?
- Would you experience excessive hardship if you had to leave Canada?
In addition to those factors, you will need to prove your identity.
Let’s look at some of the documents you could use to support your application in each of these areas.
1. Establishment in Canada
How can you prove that you have made Canada your home? You must show that you’re closely connected to other Canadians and have established a community for yourself here. The more evidence you can provide, the better.
Documents that can help you prove your establishment in Canada may include letters from family members, friends, neighbors, employers, coworkers, classmates, teachers, community leaders, ministers, and anyone else you’re connected with. Additionally, you can provide documentation that shows:
- Employment history
- Education or training you took in Canada, including English classes
- Volunteer work
- Membership and involvement with religious and community organizations
2. Best Interests of a Child
Immigration officers will evaluate the best interests of your child or other dependent and how they would be affected by a removal from Canada. You can provide supporting documents to prove that staying in Canada is in your child’s best interests. These might include:
- Letters from the child or the child’s teachers and friends
- Report cards, awards, school certificates
- Official medical reports
- Proof of the child’s community involvement such as after-school sports, music, etc.
A major factor in the officer’s decision has to do with potential severe hardship you might face if you were forced to leave Canada. To prove that this would be the case, you might include documents that show things like:
- Proof of how long you’ve been in Canada, such as a stamped passport, utility bills, pay stubs, or lease and rental agreements
- Official medical reports and details about how your home country cannot provide what you need
- Evidence of potential discrimination, harassment, or oppression in your home country
- Evidence of war or severe natural disaster in your home country
Decisions on H&C applications are at the discretion of the immigration officers who base their decisions on the evidence presented to them. So the supporting documents you provide along with your application are of utmost importance.
The examples given in this post are just a starting point. There are many other types of documentation you can include with your application. It’s best to consult with an immigration lawyer who can direct you through the most effective forms of evidence for your situation.
Get Help with your Permanent Residence Application from An Immigration Lawyer
Immigration law in Canada is extremely complex. Each application is reviewed separately and is under the discretion of the immigration officer. Involving an immigration lawyer is crucial to a successful application for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
The immigration lawyers at Osuji & Smith can guide you through every step of the application process, including helping you gather the necessary documentation to ensure the success of your application.