Who can immigrate to Canada for humanitarian and compassionate reasons

Who can immigrate to Canada for humanitarian and compassionate reasons

To receive permanent residence on a humanitarian program, you need to prove the difficulties you will face if you return to your home country.

Canada's Humanitarian Immigration Program can only be used in exceptional cases: when you have been in Canada for some time, lived and/or worked there, and will face difficulties if you have to return to your home country.

It is recommended that you apply for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds only once, but your application must be perfect. If the first application is rejected, the second one must be completely different. The same arguments, reasons, and documents will lead to another rejection.

It is advisable to have a qualified immigration lawyer handling the application for the humanitarian program. It is very important to interpret the situation in favor of the applicant, know what materials to rely on, and provide the most convincing sources of information. After all, the immigration officer can "catch on" to the slightest error or inconsistency of facts and reject the application.

The main criterion of a positive decision on the humanitarian program is whether there are serious obstacles to applying for immigration outside of Canada. The basis for a successful application can be anything that makes others feel compassionate and willing to help. Let's look at some of the grounds.

Difficulties in home country

In many cases, the application for humanitarian and compassionate reasons is based on the hardship the applicant would face if they had to leave Canada, for example:

  • lack of adequate medical care;
  • poverty;
  • discrimination on the basis of religion, gender, etc.;
  • laws or customs in the home country that may expose the applicant to the risk of abuse or social stigma.

As with the application for refugee status, the risks that could theoretically threaten the applicant in their home country are not taken into account. Nevertheless, a situation that puts someone at risk can make for a successful application for humanitarian and compassionate reasons, if presented correctly.

For example, a woman is confirmed to be at risk because of her spouse's abuse in her home country. She can state this reason as one why she should not return to her home country. The lawyer should draft the application so that it contains humanitarian and compassionate reasons, not risks.

Child's interests

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) must consider any child under the age of 18 (sometimes over the age of 18) who might be affected by the application. This can be the applicant's child, whether born in or outside of Canada or the child of a Canadian resident or citizen with whom the applicant has a close relationship.

Here are some of the reasons that can affect the child's interests:

  • child's age;
  • the relationship between the child and the applicant or between the child and other people, for example, if the child is forced to leave with the applicant and this might affect the child's relationship with other people in Canada;
  • how long the child has been in Canada;
  • the child's ties to the applicant's home country;
  • any medical conditions or special needs;
  • the impact on the child's education;
  • questions concerning the sex of the child, such as the customs to be followed by girls and women in the applicant's home country.

IRCC pays close attention to the interests of children when deciding on an application for the humanitarian program. Some circumstances can have a much greater impact on a child than on an adult. Therefore, the same facts can make an application more convincing if they affect a child.

Applicant's settlement in Canada

The applicant’s residence in Canada increases the chances of being approved. To show that the applicant is already settled in the country, the application can be supported by the following information:

  • how long the applicant has lived in Canada;
  • why the applicant lives in Canada;
  • history of working in Canada;
  • the applicant's level of education;
  • applicant's skills;
  • the applicant's volunteer work in Canada;
  • the ability to speak English or French;
  • applicant’s children born in Canada;
  • family members who are in Canada and want to help the applicant;
  • applicant’s assets or savings in Canada.

Examples of situations in which it is possible to apply on humanitarian grounds

End of marriage

If a Canadian citizen or permanent resident interrupts their spouse's sponsorship due to a breakdown in the family relationship, the spouse is eligible to apply for permanent residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. In this case, the immigration officer usually evaluates the above factors, plus:

  • the authenticity or fictitiousness of the marriage;
  • the authenticity of documents submitted for a visa to Canada or during the sponsorship process;
  • facts of physical, sexual or psychological violence in the relationship;
  • the applicant's pregnancy.

Family members

Parents, children or people who are not blood relatives of a Canadian citizen or resident, but who are actually family members, financially and/or emotionally dependent on them, are eligible to apply for immigration on humanitarian and compassionate grounds if the permanent separation would be difficult for them.

Foreigners who have worked in Canada for a long time

This category includes applicants who have lived in Canada for several years, have a steady job and extensive experience. In this case, the immigration officer usually evaluates the above factors, plus:

  • stability of financial situation;
  • family in Canada;
  • a child born in Canada.

Illegal immigrants

Illegal immigrants are people who are in Canada illegally, that is, without legal status. For example, a tourist, student, or worker who entered Canada on a temporary visa but decided to stay for a long time. In this case, the immigration officer usually evaluates the above factors, plus:

  • stability of financial situation;
  • the ability to adapt quickly in Canada;
  • family in Canada.


People who have been denied refugee status in Canada and who have exhausted their right to appeal are ordered to be deported to their home country. If you have an order to leave Canada, you can apply for immigration on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

This is not an exhaustive list of situations; the applicant may give any reasons he or she believes would support the application.

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