Humanitarian and compassionate assessment: Balance between discretion and consistency

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Applies to

  • in Canada
  • overseas

Effective decision-making in H&C cases involves striking a balance between certainty and consistency on the one hand and having flexibility to deal with the specific facts of a case on the other. In addition to the legislation, documents such as policy statements, guidelines, manuals and handbooks, provide guidance to decision makers on when and how discretion should be best exercised in keeping with the policy intent. Such documents may legitimately guide decision makers in their work.

Note: While policy guidelines such as these provide assistance to decision makers, they are not intended to be either exhaustive or restrictive. Unlike the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act or its Regulations, guidelines are not legally binding and decision makers should not fetter their discretion by treating them as if they were mandatory requirements.

See Thamotharem v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration); 2007 CarswellNat 1391; 2007 FCA.

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