Humanitarian and compassionate grounds

People who may be able to apply on humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) grounds are those who would not normally be eligible to become permanent residents of Canada.


H&C grounds apply to people with exceptional cases

Applications to become a permanent resident based on H&Cgrounds are assessed on a case-by-case basis. Factors that are looked 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 the applicant if the request is not granted.

Recent changes to Canada’s immigration law have limited who may apply on H&C grounds, and what factors may be taken into account.

  • You may only request H&C if you are applying for permanent resident status in Canada, or for a permanent resident visa abroad. H&C requests from temporary resident applicants will not be considered.
  • You cannot have more than one H&C application at the same time.
  • H&C decision makers will not assess risk factors such as persecution, risk to life, cruel and unusual treatment or punishment. (This does not apply if you applied prior to June 29, 2010.)
  • You cannot apply for H&C if you have a pending refugee claim. To do so, you must withdraw your refugee claim before your Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) hearing (i.e., before substantive evidence has been heard). (This does not apply to people with pending refugee claims who applied on H&C grounds before June 28, 2012.)
  • You cannot apply for H&C if you had a negative decision from the IRB within the last 12 months. If the IRBdecides your refugee claim is abandoned or withdrawn, that counts as a negative decision. This is called the “one year bar.”  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.

Note: Remember, you are responsible for keeping your application up-to-date. If your circumstances change and this may affect your application, it is your responsibility to inform us of the change. This is so that decision-makers have all the information that you want considered for your application.

Designated foreign nationals

Under Canada’s new law, a group of people who enter or attempt to enter Canada in a way that is against the law can be deemed an “irregular arrival.” This means certain rules and restrictions apply to them.

If you got here as part of an irregular arrival, you are deemed a “designated foreign national.” The Minister of Public Safety advises individuals when they become a designated foreign national.

You cannot apply for H&C 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 (PRRA).

If you applied for H&C and then became a designated foreign national, your H&C application will be suspended for five years,

  • from the date you were designated, or
  • from the date of a negative decision from the IRB or
  • from the date of a negative PRRA 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 H&C 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. Your application will still be processed even if you have to leave Canada. We will notify you in writing about the decision on your case.

There is no guarantee that your application will be approved. There is no right to appeal a refused application for permanent residence on H&C grounds. In some cases, however, you can ask the Federal Court of Canada to review the decision.

You can get more information from the application package.

Emergency Call

Feel free to contact us.