Humanitarian and Compassionate Assessment of Eligibility

Criteria for Humanitarian and Compassionate Consideration

When assessing eligibility for Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) consideration in the realm of Canadian immigration, specific criteria are meticulously evaluated by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The H&C grounds are intended for individuals who would not normally be eligible to become permanent residents of Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Nevertheless, due to exceptional circumstances, they seek relief on compassionate or humanitarian grounds.

The criteria reflect the aim to provide relief for persons who would suffer disproportionate hardship should they have to leave Canada. There is an extensive checklist that immigration officers must consider:

  • Establishment in Canada: Officers consider the applicant’s ties to the country, which may include work, community involvement, and family relationships.
  • Family ties to Canada: The presence of immediate or extended relatives in Canada and the support they offer the applicant is another significant factor.
  • Best interests of any children affected by the applicant’s decision to stay in Canada: A primary consideration is always given to how children would be impacted, with particular scrutiny on their physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.
  • Health considerations: Issues pertaining to physical or mental health that cannot be treated in the applicant’s home country can be a strong consideration.
  • Consequences of the separation of relatives: The potential hardship that could fall on family members should the applicant not be allowed to stay in Canada is also taken into account.
  • Factors in the country of origin not directly related to the applicant: These can include the general situation in the applicant’s home country such as war or political unrest that could pose a risk to their safety.
  • The potential for undue hardship: Officers evaluate whether individuals may face hardship that is not necessarily typical of other persons who would have to leave Canada, such as discrimination or marginalization that could impact their ability to lead a basic lifestyle.

This is not an exhaustive list and all factors mentioned can be considered collectively or individually. In practice, H&C applications must establish a strong and compelling narrative that supports the existence of extraordinary circumstances. As such, individual stories and provided evidence are critical to the success of the application.

With the H&C grounds being highly discretionary, success rates can vary widely, and applicants are highly encouraged to ensure their application provides comprehensive details and documentation. It should be emphasized that not all hardships and situations will result in a positive H&C decision, and there is no guarantee of acceptance. Applications are decided on a case-by-case basis, and decisions are typically made based on the specific details and context of each unique situation.

The Application Process for Humanitarian Grounds

The application process for humanitarian and compassionate grounds involves several steps and requires thorough preparation to increase the likelihood of approval. It begins with the completion of the appropriate applications forms provided by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), most notably the Application to Change Conditions, Extend Stay or Remain in Canada as a Permanent Resident on Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds, also known as form IMM 5283.

Applicants must provide extensive evidence to support their claims. The documentation might include, but is not limited to:

  • Personal identification documents
  • Evidence of establishment in Canada such as employment records, school records, or community involvement
  • Details about family in Canada and the relationships
  • Information regarding the best interests of any children involved
  • Medical reports if health considerations are relevant
  • Testimonies from friends, family, or community members
  • Country condition reports to corroborate claims related to the situation in their home country

It is crucial that the submitted documents are current, complete, and translated into English or French, as required. Moreover, an applicant must provide a detailed personal narrative that outlines the circumstances which warrant the consideration of their case on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. This personal statement is central to the application as it helps officers understand the full scope of the applicant’s situation.

Additionally, the financial aspect of the application cannot be overlooked. Payment of the processing fee is mandatory and non-refundable, regardless of the application’s outcome. Applicants should ensure that the method of payment is accepted by IRCC and that the correct amount is provided.

After the application is submitted, it will not be uncommon for IRCC to request additional information. Applicants should respond to these requests promptly and provide the required information within specified deadlines. During this time, they should also keep their contact information up to date to ensure they receive all correspondence regarding their application.

Once an officer has reviewed all the documents and information provided, they will make a decision on the application. In some cases, an interview may be deemed necessary to clarify or verify information. The length of time it takes for an application to be processed can vary widely based on individual circumstances and workload within IRCC.

Applicants must also be aware that applying for humanitarian and compassionate considerations does not automatically grant them temporary status or protection from removal from Canada. If an individual is under a removal order, they can still be required to leave the country while their application is being processed.

Meticulous and timely preparation of the application, complete and accurate documentation and evidence, and adherence to IRCC’s requirements and procedures are paramount for the success of a humanitarian and compassionate grounds application.

Evaluating Special Circumstances and Hardships

When evaluating special circumstances and hardships, immigration officers take a compassionate approach, looking beyond the standard criteria to understand the unique situation of each applicant. These include circumstances that may not fall neatly under conventional immigration categories but nonetheless merit attention due to the extraordinary hardship they may cause. Examples of such special circumstances may include:

  • The psychological impact of leaving Canada, especially when the applicant has lived in the country for an extended period and has established deep emotional and social ties.
  • Challenges that may affect an applicant’s ability to re-establish themselves in their country of origin due to changes in that country or personal circumstances that have evolved while living in Canada.
  • The situation of women and minorities who may face adverse treatment in their home country, which Canada’s humanitarian principles aim to alleviate.
  • Conditions that negatively affect the applicant’s quality of life, such as inadequate access to education, health care, or employment opportunities in their home country.
  • Risks associated with the applicant’s sexual orientation or gender identity, which may subject them to persecution in their home country.

Each case is assessed for hardship in accordance with the depth and breadth of adversity presented. Certain instances might include:

  • Applicants with serious health issues that cannot be treated in their home country, for whom staying in Canada is crucial to their well-being.
  • Individuals whose lives may be endangered due to conflict, violence, or instability in their home nation.
  • Applicants with ties to vulnerable populations in Canada, including those who have shown a significant level of community service or have played a role in supporting community initiatives.

The careful assessment considers not only the hardship that would be caused by the applicant’s return to their home country but also the contributions they have made while in Canada, and the potential for continued benefit to the Canadian community. A positive outcome is more likely when an applicant demonstrates that their presence in Canada has a positive impact on Canadian society or the well-being of Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

The evidence provided should be compelling, detailed, and clearly support the claim of undue hardship. Documentation may include affidavits from friends or community leaders, letters from health care providers, as well as reports and articles that corroborate the applicant’s statements regarding conditions in their country of origin. Applicants should present a comprehensive picture that leaves little doubt as to the severity and uniqueness of their situation.

It is crucial for applicants to remember that the burden of proof lies with them. It is their responsibility to convince IRCC that their circumstances are exceptional. Because the Humanitarian and Compassionate assessment is a last resort for people who have no other means of applying for permanent residence, the evidentiary standard is high, and every piece of documentation counts.

While it is within the purview of immigration officers to show flexibility and compassion, the policy is not intended to circumvent the usual immigration requirements. Applicants must therefore carefully establish not just the hardship they will face, but also how their case aligns with the compassionate spirit in which these provisions were conceived, to increase their chances of a successful application under H&C grounds.