Humanitarian & Compassionate (H&C) Applications 

Note: Pursuant to the 2012 legislative changes to the Canadian refugee protection system, a failed refugee claimant must now generally wait one year after receiving a negative decision from the Immigration and Refugee Board to submit an H&C application (2 narrow exemptions to this 1-year ban exist when best interests of a child are concerned or where serious medical issues are involved).

H&C is, without a doubt, the most discretionary type of an immigration application that exists under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Likelihood of success will depend, to a large extent, on skilfully and creatively crafted written submissions as well as varied and all-encompassing documentation in support of the application. Both of these aspects are best handled by an experienced immigration lawyer.

There are essentially 2 aspects to the H&C application. First of all, hardship upon return to home country is assessed. Hardship includes, among other factors, discrimination (not amounting to persecution), and more generally, adverse country conditions.

Secondly, establishment in Canada – namely economic and social ties to the country – is carefully assessed as well. The more documents can be gathered in this regard, the stronger the application. Letters from employers (current and previous); financial documentation (Notices of Assessment, Bank Account statements, etc.); letters from friends or relatives in Canada (Citizens or Permanent Residents); letters from charitable or religious organizations confirming involvement in the community are strongly recommended. Finally, if there are either Canadian or foreign-born children, all of the factors relating to their “Best Interests” must be carefully set out in the submissions as this is a paramount consideration in any H&C application.

The H&C application process takes a considerable period of time; however, updates to the application can be submitted at any point prior to the decision being made. It is strongly recommended that such updates are prepared periodically to make the application even stronger. This is especially important since the so-called “30 day rule letter” providing an applicant with the last opportunity to update his/her application is no longer provided and it is each applicant’s responsibility to keep their application current.

Once again, an application that is put together with skill and creativity stands the best likelihood of success. An experienced immigration lawyer is therefore strongly recommended.