Humanitarian immigration program
Certain categories of people can move to Canada for humanitarian and compassionate reasons.
Generally, people must apply for immigration while outside of Canada. In some cases, you can ask immigration officers to make an exception to this rule by applying for permanent residence in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
The humanitarian program is not a facilitated immigration program. It is a program that can be used in exceptional cases!
If you have lived and/or worked in Canada for some time without valid immigration status and would like to apply for permanent residence, you may apply for permanent resident status on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Under Section 25 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Minister may consider your individual circumstances and grant permanent residence if it is justified on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
This process consists of two steps:
- The applicant is allowed to apply for permanent residence in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds;
- The applicant is approved for permanent residence in Canada.
An applicant approved at the first stage may still be rejected at the second stage if they do not meet the requirements for permanent resident status.
There are many different instances where permanent residence can be granted in this situation. For example, you have been working in Canada for several years, you have young children who attend school and are connected to your community through a faith-based organization. Or maybe you have a large family in Canada, but you are not eligible for sponsorship and cannot get a job if you return to your country.
The Minister decides on a case-by-case basis at his or her discretion. Several key factors are taken into account when considering applications for humanitarian and compassionate grounds:
- how far the applicant has settled in Canada;
- the applicant's ties to Canada, including family ties;
- what happens if the applicant's family members are separated;
- the applicant's physical or mental condition;
- the impact on the applicant's life of the domestic violence they have experienced or would experience if return to their home country;
- the difficulties the applicant may face if sent back to their home country.
Other rules that apply to humanitarian and compassionate applications:
- You may indicate humanitarian and compassionate grounds only if you are applying for permanent resident status in Canada or a permanent resident visa abroad. Applications on humanitarian and compassionate grounds from applicants for temporary residence are not considered.
- You cannot submit more than one application on humanitarian and compassionate grounds at the same time.
- You cannot apply for humanitarian and compassionate reasons if you have applied for refugee status and it is pending. If you wish to apply for humanitarian and compassionate reasons, you must withdraw your refugee claim before a hearing with the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.
- You cannot apply for humanitarian and compassionate reasons if you have received a negative decision from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada within the past 12 months. However, you do not have to wait 12 months if:
- you have children under the age of 18 who would be affected if you left Canada;
- or you have evidence that you or one of your children is suffering from a life-threatening illness that cannot be treated in your country.
Humanitarian and compassionate reasons
The applicant may give any reasons that they believe will support their claim. Anything that makes others feel compassionate and willing to help can form the basis of a successful application. For example, the difficulties the applicant will face if they have to return to their country are often used as a reason.
Humanitarian and compassionate reasons include the following:
- Settlement in Canada: this includes elements such as how long you have been in Canada, your involvement in your community, your job, your ties to family here, your education.
- Difficulties you will face if you return to your country: this refers to the difficulties you will face if you are forced to live in your own country. This may be related to the political situation, lack of employment, fear of violence or persecution, lack of social services, and other similar factors.
- Interests of your children: if you have children, their interests may be an integral part of the application. Being forced to leave Canada may have a big impact on their lives. Canadian law requires immigration officers to be vigilant and consider the best interests of children when dealing with applications on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.