Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds

Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds

In certain circumstances, the Government of Canada allows immigrants to apply for permanent residence based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

This means that if you cannot apply for permanent residence in any other way, because you are not eligible, you can apply under humanitarian and compassionate grounds. The purpose of this is to allow people who would face hardships if they were not allowed to stay in Canada, with permanent resident status, an option to explain their situation and justify being allowed to stay.

Welfare Considerations To Justify Assistance

You need to be adversely affected and face suffering if you were to leave Canada. You need to have exceptional circumstances that are enough to cause people to be concerned enough about your welfare and feel compassionate towards you so that people will want to help.

Any reasons that you can provide that show how your welfare would be harmed, or what hardships you would face, could be considered humanitarian and compassionate grounds. However, your reasons need to be compelling enough that your compassionate considerations justify granting assistance.


The humanitarian and compassionate grounds program is for people who have made a home in Canada, and have established a life in the country, but do not have legal immigration status, and who are seeking protection from hardships that they would face if forced to leave.

Designated Foreign National

To be eligible to apply, you must be a foreign national living in Canada. Designated foreign nationals who received their status within five years or less are unable to apply, however.

canada passport on top of a map

Not Able To Apply Under Other Programs

You must not be eligible to apply under other methods, such as under a family member in Canada immigration class, including a spouse or common-law partner class. This means you must apply these methods if they apply to you.

Who Is Ineligible?

You are ineligible if you have already submitted a humanitarian and compassionate grounds claim and have not received a decision, or if you have an outstanding refugee claim that you are awaiting a decision on. You are also ineligible if you have been rejected by the Immigration Review Board (IRB) within the past 12 months.

If you are a temporary resident permit holder, you are also unable to submit a humanitarian and compassionate application.

If you are seeking protection, you need to apply under the Refugee Protection Act, using the Protected Person and Convention Refugee immigration process, not under humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Usual Reasons For Humanitarian and Compassionate Applications

Hardship is one reason for applying; if you can show that you would face suffering if you were to leave Canada you can apply. If you are not recognized as a citizen in your home country, so are not able to return, or for similar situations, humanitarian and compassionate grounds may apply.

Medical hardship generally does not apply unless your home country does not have adequate medical care and you risk death or serious medical complications if you should return.

Facing serious risks by returning may be a reason, but if you are eligible as a refugee, you need to apply through that program. Also, if you had applied for refugee status, you cannot use the same reasons in this application.

If you have children, the best interests of the child will always be considered.

Stylish young couple speaking to immigration consultant at wooden kitchen table

What Factors Related To Your Situation Will Be Considered?

Canadian immigration officers will review a range of considerations when assessing your humanitarian and compassionate application.

How long you have been living in Canada, how strong your ties to Canada are (including family ties), and your work experience history will be taken into account. Family and religious ties may also influence a decision. Family members confirming they are able to support you will support your application. The longer you have been in Canada, and the stronger your relationships with the community, the better for your case. Essentially, Immigration is considering how much you can support yourself and contribute to Canada and the communities you are a part of.

Hardships you would face if returning to your home country are also taken into account, including medical health factors, and how your family would be impacted by relocation.

If you have a criminal record or have been on welfare for most of your time in Canada, this may negatively impact your humanitarian and compassionate application.

Best Interests Of Children

The best interests of a child will always be considered. This includes any child affected by the decision on your case, whether or not the child is Canadian, foreign-born, or living inside or outside of Canada. They will consider how settled a child is in Canada, their family ties, the negative impacts of separating families, and their physical and mental health. Any hardship or difficulties, including family violence concerns, that the child would experience if forced to leave Canada is considered.

Newly-reunited immigrant family having a picnic in Canadian park


You need to provide clear, substantial proof of your situation. Proof of identity, as well as evidence to support your claim, is required.

Supporting documents for evidence are critical to proving the validity of your claim. All documents must be dated and signed.

Supporting letters from family members and the community to highlight your ties to and relationships with family and the wider community is crucial. This should also include any references to any volunteering you have done or any social or religious organizations you are a part of.

Proof of employment and income is another critical element to support your application.

If you have children, documents such as report cards, school certificates, letters from teachers and friends, and evidence of extra-curricular activities should all be included.

Photos, as well as written documentation, are valid and helpful to your application.

Waiting For Permanent Residence Decision

After your humanitarian and compassionate grounds application has been submitted, a response can take two years or longer.

You can stay in Canada during this time, but it is recommended that you do not travel outside Canada in case you are needed for an interview.

If your application is accepted and approved you can become a permanent resident, and you will receive a Canadian Permanent Residence Card (PR Card). A medical exam and police clearance will be required. If it is refused, you can appeal to the Federal Court of Canada.

Getting Help

Applying using the humanitarian and compassionate grounds program is a long process, and the documentation requirements for evidence can be overwhelming. Getting professional help can mean a stronger application to express your individual case.

Oro Immigration has caring, committed immigration specialists to help you in becoming a permanent resident of Canada. Contact us to see how we can help you with your immigration situation.


What are Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds?

It’s a Canadian government provision allowing immigrants to apply for permanent residence when they’re not eligible under other programs, due to exceptional hardships they might face if they had to leave Canada.

Who is Eligible?

This is for those who have established a life in Canada but lack legal immigration status and face hardships if forced to leave. It’s not for those with pending refugee claims or those rejected by the Immigration Review Board in the past 12 months.

What Factors Are Considered in the Application?

Considerations include the duration of your stay in Canada, ties to the community, work history, hardships faced if returning to the home country, and the best interests of any children involved.

What is the Process for Applying?

The application requires substantial proof of identity and evidence supporting the claim. This can include documents like proof of employment, family letters, and children’s school records. The decision process can take over two years.