Humanitarian and Compassionate Consultations

Understanding Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds

Canada’s immigration policies include a provision for Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) grounds, which offers a pathway for individuals who would not normally be eligible to apply for permanent residence from within Canada. This unique provision is an acknowledgment that sometimes strict adherence to the regulations may result in situations of hardship. Therefore, the H&C grounds are implemented to consider circumstances that are exceptional and deserving of special consideration.

Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), H&C considerations can apply to foreign nationals who are affected by circumstances that might justify an exemption from the usual requirements. These grounds may include a range of factors that are assessed on a case-by-case basis. It is important to note that H&C applications are not intended for those seeking relief from economic hardship or to bypass regular immigration channels. Instead, they focus on cases with significant personal hardship where refusal would result in unusual, undeserved, or disproportionate hardship.

Several factors may be taken into account under H&C considerations, including:

  • The establishment in Canada: how settled the individual is into Canadian society, including community ties and length of stay.
  • The best interests of a child directly affected by the decision: special attention is given to how a decision might impact children under 18, considering their well-being and future prospects.
  • Health considerations: including medical issues that cannot be treated in the applicant’s home country or situations where returning would worsen their health condition considerably.
  • Family violence concerns: protection for individuals who may be at risk if they were to return to their home country.
  • Consequences of the separation of relatives: the emotional, financial and psychological impact of being separated from family members.
  • Other relevant considerations: any other relevant humanitarian and compassionate considerations specific to the individual’s circumstances.

Applicants for H&C relief must provide detailed documentation and evidence of their situation. The goal of the documentation is to demonstrate the severity of their circumstances convincingly. While humanitarian and compassionate grounds may provide a lifeline for some, it is important to understand that these applications are assessed thoroughly, and not all requests for H&C considerations will be granted. Processing times can be lengthy, and each case requires a detailed and compelling narrative to illustrate why exceptions to standard procedures should be made.

An H&C application is an appeal to the decision-making authorities’ discretion. As such, applicants are encouraged to ensure that their applications are as substantial and comprehensive as possible to maximize the chance that an officer will be moved to grant relief on these special grounds.

The Process of Applying for Relief under H&C

To initiate the process of applying for relief under Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds, one must first fill out and submit the appropriate application to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The form commonly used for this purpose is known as the Application for Permanent Residence from Within Canada – Humanitarian and Compassionate Considerations, or IMM 5283.

The application must include a detailed personal narrative that explains the applicant’s circumstances and reasons for requesting H&C consideration. This narrative should outline not only the hardships they face but also provide insight into how their situation meets the criteria for H&C assessment as established by Canadian immigration policy.

  • Detailed Personal Statement: An applicant’s personal statement is a crucial component of their application, offering a chance to describe, in their own words, the exceptional nature of their situation.
  • Supportive Documents: Evidence to support the claim must be provided, which can include a variety of documents such as medical reports, letters of support from community organizations, proof of integration into Canadian society, evidence of hardship faced in the home country, and any other documentation relevant to the case.
  • Application Fee: There is a processing fee for H&C applications, which must be included with the submitted application. Failure to include the fee could result in delays or the return of the application.
  • Official Forms: In addition to the personal narrative and supporting documents, the proper completion of all necessary forms is essential. Incomplete or incorrect forms may lead to processing delays or even the refusal of the application.
  • Updates to Information: Applicants are responsible for keeping their information up-to-date. Any changes to personal circumstances, such as change in marital status, birth of a child, or change of address, must be communicated to IRCC as soon as possible.

Once the application is complete and has been submitted, it enters the queue for processing. The workload of immigration officers and the complexity of cases already in the system may affect the processing time of H&C applications. Therefore, applicants are advised to apply as early as possible and to prepare for a potentially lengthy wait.

It is also important to understand that even while an H&C application is under review, the applicant must maintain their legal status in Canada. If their temporary status expires, they must take steps to renew it to avoid living in Canada without legal status, which can negatively impact their H&C application.

Throughout the review process, additional information may be requested by IRCC. Applicants should respond to such requests promptly and thoroughly, as any delays in providing the required information can extend the processing time of the application.

Applicants should be aware that H&C decisions are discretionary and the outcome can be difficult to predict. Engaging with a legal professional who specializes in Canadian immigration law can be beneficial when navigating the complex H&C application process. These professionals can provide guidance on best practices for submitting a comprehensive application and may increase the chances of a successful outcome.

Assessing Individual Cases: Criteria and Considerations

When assessing individual cases on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds, the Canadian immigration officials examine a vast array of criteria and considerations to ensure a fair and compassionate decision is made. What follows is an examination of the key factors that influence the outcome of an H&C application, reflecting on the depth and complexity of each case.

Detailed Personal Circumstances: Immigration officers will scrutinize the applicant’s personal circumstances in great detail. This includes any exceptional hardship they would face if they were required to leave Canada, such as the inability to access critical medical care or the threat of persecution.

  • Applicants must demonstrate the severity and unusual nature of their situation, often exceeding typical hardships faced by others in similar positions.

Establishment in Canada: Applicants who have resided in Canada for a prolonged period and established significant ties to the community are often seen as strong candidates for H&C consideration.

  • Community Ties: Involvement in local organizations, long-term employment, and relationships with Canadian citizens or permanent residents can all be influential factors in an H&C application.

Best Interests of Affected Children: Officials pay special attention to how children would be impacted by the decision. The H&C consideration takes into account the children’s need for stability, access to education, and their emotional and psychological well-being.

  • The best interests of the child serve as a significant factor and may often tip the balance in favor of granting H&C considerations.

Health and Medical Considerations: Conditions that cannot be managed or treated in the applicant’s country of origin are critical elements of the H&C assessment.

  • If deportation could worsen the individual’s health or there is no adequate healthcare available in their home country, these factors are heavily weighed.

Family Violence and Separation: The risk of family violence upon return to the home country and the potential separation from relatives are considered extensively during the assessment. The emotional and psychological implications for the applicant and their family can be compelling grounds for H&C.

  • Ensuring the safety of all individuals, particularly those vulnerable to abuse or harm, is a priority within the H&C considerations.

Establishing the Adverse Effects of Separation: Immigration officers consider the consequences that separation will have on an applicant and their family, focusing on the potential long-term psychological and emotional toll.

Other Relevant Considerations: Any other factors relevant to the humanitarian and compassionate context of the individual’s case can also be brought forward.

  • Some of these may include societal contributions, such as volunteer work, or circumstances specific to the country of origin, like war or natural disasters.

Importantly, the weight given to each factor can vary widely among cases. The discretionary nature of the H&C assessment means that no two cases are the same, and each is decided on its individual merits.

Conclusiveness of Evidence: The applicant must provide concrete, credible evidence that substantiates their claims. Documentation such as expert opinions, country condition reports, and personal testimony can play a crucial role in the decision-making process.

  • Quality over quantity often prevails; a well-documented case with strong evidence is more likely to succeed than one with an abundance of irrelevant information.

Because of the subjective nature of H&C considerations, engaging in consultations with experienced immigration lawyers or consultants to present the case in its strongest possible form is often beneficial. These professionals can assist in gathering pertinent evidence and crafting a narrative that underscores the unique and compelling nature of the applicant’s humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Applicants are reminded that while they may meet several of the considered factors, there is no guarantee of success. Nevertheless, understanding these criteria and considerations can assist in preparing a well-rounded and persuasive H&C application.