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How to Apply for Immigration to Canada on Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds

People who do not qualify to immigrate to Canada under any of its immigration programs may still be able to qualify under on Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) grounds. Section 25 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, known as IRPA, gives Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) discretion to grant a person permanent resident status or an exemption from immigration criteria for humanitarian and compassionate reasons. The purpose of the law is to allow flexibility for exceptional cases of hardship. The H&C process is not intended to be an alternative means of applying for permanent resident status.

Humanitarian applications

This article will examine who is eligible for an H&C exemption and how to apply for immigration to Canada on H&C grounds.

Who May Apply on Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds?

H&C grounds are available to people who already live in Canada who do not qualify for permanent residence, or for people who want to immigrate to Canada who are not eligible under the immigration laws. Humanitarian reasons are most commonly invoked by people whose application for refugee status has been denied. However, there are many other situations where people apply for permanent residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. For example:

A foreign national who does not meet specific immigration criteria, such as failing to meet the residency requirements, failing to garner enough points under the skilled worker program, or failure to pass the medical examination, may ask for admission on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

A person who has been excluded from immigration to Canada due to their medical condition can apply for H&C admission. A government official confirmed that over 90 percent of H&C applications after a finding of medical inadmissibility are allowed.

Some adult children of immigrants who were excluded from the permanent resident process may be eligible under H&C grounds.

There are many other scenarios which could make a person eligible for immigration H&C grounds. As long as there are specific legal obligations that a person must satisfy to immigrate to Canada, a person can request an exemption from the legal obligations on H&C grounds.

Who May Not Apply on Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds?

The government will not consider H&C requests from temporary resident applicants. It will also not consider an H&C application from people who already have a pending refugee claim.

People who have already been denied admission from the Immigration Review Board within the prior 12 months cannot apply again until one year has elapsed, unless they have children under age 18 who would be adversely affected by removal, or if they can demonstrate that the adult or the dependent has a life-threatening medical condition which cannot be treated in the family’s home country.

Certain rules and restrictions apply to people who have been a “designated foreign arrival” because of the way they entered Canada. If you have been classified as a designated foreign arrival, you cannot apply under H&C grounds unless five years have passed.Humanitarian applications

H&C Grounds

CIC will decide whether a person meets the standard for H&C on a case-by-case basis. Factors considered during the process include, but are not limited to:

  • ties to Canada;

  • establishment in Canada (for people already living in Canada);

  • best interests of children who would be adversely affected by the H&C decision;

  • adverse conditions in the person’s country of origin;

  • health considerations, including whether the person’s country of origin is unable to provide appropriate medical treatment;

  • family separation;

  • whether a person has been unable to leave Canada due to conditions in their home country;

  • other unique or exceptional circumstances. Humanitarian applications

How to Apply for H&C Admission

Applicants already living in Canada must file two forms: the general application for immigration to Canada (form IMM 0008), and an application requesting an exemption based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds (form IMM 5283.

Applicants living overseas must use the application forms for one of the three immigration classes (family, economic or refugee) and supplement it with information explaining why humanitarian and compassionate grounds should apply.

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