Determining whether the applicant has the ability to establish in Canada

(REF-OVS-4-6)

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

This page contains guidance on assessing the ability of a resettlement applicant to become established in Canada.

Key message: Protection is the most important goal and must be considered: when protection needs are high, less weight can be put on the potential for integration.

For more information, consult Policy background – Ability to establish in Canada.

Legal references: Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) – paragraph 139(1)(g) and (h) and subsection 139(2)


On this page

Exemptions from the requirement to establish in Canada

An exemption from this requirement must be recorded in notes when assessed and confirmed. The following applicants are not required to show an ability to establish in Canada when their potential for resettlement is assessed:

Under the IMM – Eligibility – Eligibility Assessment section in GCMS, record that the applicant is exempt from the ability to establish.

Assessing the ability to establish in Canada

When assessing the ability to establish, focus on the economic sufficiency and adaptability of the entire family unit, including those accompanying the applicant and those already in Canada.

Factors for assessment include:

Only the above factors are to be assessed. No other factors are to be included.

All factors must be considered as a whole. Depending on the context and specific circumstances, different weight may be assigned to each factor.

Guidelines for assessing these factors are outlined below.

Factor 1: Potential for being resourceful

Consider the following when assessing an applicant’s resourcefulness:

Factor 2: Family or sponsor in expected community of resettlement

Consider the following when assessing the presence of family or a sponsor in the expected community of resettlement:

Some key questions to consider about relatives in Canada:

  1. What is known about relatives in Canada
    • An inability to answer simple questions about family members’ whereabouts or life events (deaths, marriages or births) may show that the relationships are too distant. Those in situations of forced migration, however, may have had problems communicating with family in Canada.
  2. Expected assistance from relatives in Canada
    • Consider all possible support, such as advice, assistance in becoming employed and childcare.
  3. Contact with relatives in Canada

Factor 3: Potential for employment in Canada

Although there may be obstacles, an applicant may still be capable of joining the full-time labour force in Canada with available support during settlement.

No minimum education or work experience is required.

When assessing the potential for employment, consider whether the applicant has:

Factor 4: Potential to learn English or French

An assessment of applicants’ language-learning ability is not required, however, some basic indicators about the applicant may include:

Serious health conditions

The “ability to establish” requirement is not a mechanism to second-guess the opinion of a medical officer when an applicant has a serious physical or mental health condition that could affect their ability to establish.

Alternate arrangements when unable to establish in Canada

Before refusing someone for being unable to successfully establish in Canada, determine whether the applicant could become established with extra assistance. Consider the following:

Refusing an applicant for inability to establish in Canada

Exercise caution before refusing applicants based on a presumption that they may not integrate well in Canada. This may be seen as discriminatory. Examples include

There should be specific evidence that clearly shows integration will be difficult, and conclusions must be reasonable and justifiable.

For more information, consult Decisions of the Federal Court:

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