The humanitarian and compassionate assessment: De facto family members

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

De facto family members are persons who do not meet the definition of a family class member. They are in a situation of dependence that makes them a de facto member of a nuclear family that is either in Canada or applying to immigrate. Some examples: a son, daughter (over age 19), brother or sister left alone in the country of origin without family of their own; an elderly relative such as an aunt or uncle or an unrelated person who has resided with the family for a long time. Also included may be children in a guardianship relationship when adoption as described in subsection 3(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations is not possible. Separation of persons in such a genuine dependent relationship may be grounds for a positive assessment.

You should determine whether compelling H&C reasons exist to allow such persons to immigrate to Canada by considering:

  • whether dependency is bona fide and not created for immigration purposes
  • the level of dependency
  • the stability of the relationship
  • the duration of the relationship
  • the possible impact of a separation
  • the financial and emotional needs of the applicant in relation to the family unit
  • the ability and willingness of the family in Canada to provide support
  • the applicant’s other options, such as family (spouse, children, parents, siblings, etc.) outside Canada able and willing to provide support
  • documentary evidence about the relationship (e.g., joint bank accounts or real estate holdings, other joint property ownership, wills, insurance policies, letters from friends and family)
  • whether the applicant would have difficulty meeting financial or emotional needs without the support and assistance of the family unit
  • any other factors relevant to the H&C decision.
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