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Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds

This program applies to exceptional cases. People who would not normally be eligible to become permanent residents of Canada may be able to apply on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Every case is assessed on a case-by-case basis. Some factors Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada looks into:  

  • how settled the person is in Canada
  • general family ties to Canada
  • the best interests of any children involved, and
  • what could happen to you if we do not grant the request.


An H&C application does not prevent you from being deported unless you’re
waiting for a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA).
1. The chances of succeeding in an H&C application are low
2. Must prove you deserve to have your H&C application approved

Other rules:

  • Only for Permanent Resident or  Permanent Resident Visa abroad.
  • Only one H&C application at the same time is allowed.
  • Risk factors such as persecution, risk to life, cruel and unusual treatment or punishment are not be assessed.
  • You cannot apply for H&C  if you have a pending refugee claim. or had a negative decision from the IRB within the last 12 months. This is called the “one year bar.” exceptions: 
    • have children under 18 who would be adversely affected if you were removed from Canada, or
    • you have proof that you or one of your dependants suffers from a life-threatening medical condition that cannot be treated in your home country.

Designated foreign nationals

A group of people who enter or try to enter Canada irregularly is a “designated foreign national.”

You cannot apply forH&C until five years have passed since:

  • the day you became a designated foreign national and/or
  • the IRB made a final negative decision on your refugee claim and/or
  • you got a negative decision on a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment.
  • If apply for H&C before becoming a designated foreign national, the application will be suspended for 5 years


People usually apply for H&C for two main reasons: hardship and risk.


“Hardship” refers to a situation that would cause you serious problems or suffering. You may decide to apply for H&C if you would face hardship if forced to leave Canada and return to your home country. If you are already established in Canada and can’t return to your home country because you are not recognized as a citizen there or there is no
government in charge, you should apply for H&C.

Medical hardship

Medical problems do not usually make your case stronger, unless you or a family member risks death because your home country does not offer adequate or appropriate medical treatment.

Proving hardship

Consider factors that contribute to your level of establishment in Canada.
• The amount of time you have lived in Canada
• Your language skills in English/French and efforts to improve them
• Your efforts to improve your education and skills while in Canada
• The number of family members/relatives you have in Canada
• How much contact you have with family in Canada 
• How much contact you have with family in your home country (having many close relatives in your home country suggests less hardship if you returned)
• Canadian-born children (good) or children still living in your home country (not good)

• Contacts in Canada other than family
• Jobs you have had in Canada and taxes you have paid
• Your present job and the length of your employment
• Your assets in Canada, including your family home, RSPs, RESPs, bank accounts, investment accounts, business vehicles (the more assets the better)
• Your assets abroad (the less the better)
• Your community involvement (religious or non-religious) and volunteer work

• Positive reference letters from people in your workplace, school, volunteer organization, religious community, etc.
• Your financial or cultural contributions to Canada
• The specific hardships you/your family face in your home country
• If you are a woman, the difficulties you face in your home country


 You must prove you face one or more of these risks:
• Persecution 
• Torture
• Risk to life
• Risk of cruel or unusual punishment

Risk of persecution

A Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) officer will review any H&C application containing information about the risks of having to leave Canada. You will not be deported until the PRRA officer has reviewed your application and made a decision.
Also, the risk of persecution must be specific to you/your family.
Information about the general poor human rights record of your home country is
not enough. You must show how you are personally affected. 


If you have children, include opinion letters about them in your H&C application. School counsellors, community health workers, family doctors, teachers, social workers or psychologists can write letters about the negative mental/physical effects returning to your home country would have on your children.
The officer who reads your application must consider “the best interests of the child,” i.e. whether your child/children are better off staying in Canada or going back to your home country with you. The officer will determine how close your children’s ties are to Canada based on whether or not they were born in Canada, whether or not they attend(ed) school in Canada and whether or not they have
ever been to your home country.