Humanitarian and compassionate grounds

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

Humanitarian and compassionate grounds apply to people with exceptional cases. We assess these applications on a case-by-case basis. Factors we look at include:

  • 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.

Other rules that apply to humanitarian and compassionate grounds:

  • You may only ask for humanitarian and compassionate grounds if you are applying for permanent resident status in Canada, or for a permanent resident visa abroad. We will not look at H&C requests from temporary resident applicants.
  • You cannot have more than one humanitarian and compassionate grounds application at the same time.
  • We will not assess risk factors such as persecution, risk to life, cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.
  • You cannot apply for humanitarian and compassionate grounds if you have a pending refugee claim. If you want to apply, you must withdraw your refugee claim before your Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) hearing.
  • You cannot apply for humanitarian and compassionate grounds if you had a negative decision from the IRB within the last 12 months. This is called the “one year bar.” (If the IRB decides your refugee claim is abandoned or withdrawn, that counts as a negative decision.) The bar does not apply if:
    • you 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 in a way that is against the law can be considered an “irregular arrival.” This means certain rules and restrictions apply to them.

If you got here as part of an irregular arrival, you are a “designated foreign national.” The Minister of Public Safety will tell you in writing if you are one.

You cannot apply for humanitarian and compassionate grounds 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 you applied for humanitarian and compassionate grounds and then became a designated foreign national, your humanitarian and compassionate grounds application will be suspended for five years from the date:

  • you were designated, or
  • of a negative decision from the IRB, or
  • of a negative Pre-Removal Risk Assessment decision.

Removal orders

If you have an order to leave Canada (this is called a removal order), you may be able to apply to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, unless any of the above restrictions apply to you.

If you apply, this will not prevent or delay your removal from Canada. You must leave on or before the date stated on your removal order. We will still process your application even if you have to leave Canada. We will tell you in writing about the decision on your case.

There is no guarantee that we will approve your application. There is no right to appeal a refused application for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. In some cases you can ask the Federal Court of Canada to review the decision.

You can find out more in the application package.

Note: Remember, you must keep your application up-to-date. If anything changes which may affect your application, it is your responsibility to tell us of the change. This is so that decision-makers have all the information that you want them to consider for your application.


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