Go back to news + community

Immigration Law

Putting Down New Roots: Navigating Canada's Humanitarian Path to Permanent Residency

October 13, 2023 by Pius Omene

A Guide on Applying for Permanent Residence in Canada on Humanitarian & Compassionate Grounds

Canada’s immigration system is celebrated for its inclusivity and understanding. Beyond the traditional routes of family sponsorship or economic immigration, there exists a compassionate path for individuals who may not meet the standard criteria yet have compelling reasons to stay in Canada: The Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) Grounds route.

What are Humanitarian & Compassionate Applications (“H & C”)?

The H&C Application route is usually meant for individuals who are currently in Canada and seek an exemption from regular immigration criteria based on exceptional circumstances. The primary essence is to consider the best interests of any involved children, undue hardships if the applicant were to leave Canada, and other relevant factors.

In essence Individuals can use this application if they are:

a. in Canada, and 

b. need an exemption from one or more requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) or Regulations in order to apply for permanent residence within Canada;

c. believe humanitarian and compassionate considerations justify granting the exemption(s) you need; and

d. are not eligible to apply for permanent residence from within Canada in any of these classes: Spouse or Common-Law Partner, Live-in Caregiver, Caregivers: caring for children or people with high medical needs, Protected Person and Convention Refugees or Temporary Resident Permit Holder.

Factors considered in H&C Applications include:

1. Establishment in Canada: How well an Applicant has integrated into Canadian society. This can include work history, community involvement, or educational pursuits.

2. An inability to leave Canada that has led to establishment: This would usually be the case where for reasons out of the Applicant’s control they had to remain in Canada for a period and then became entrenched in Canada.

3. Ties to Canada: Relationships with family members or friends in Canada, especially if they are permanent residents or Canadian citizens.

4. Best Interests of a Child: If the Applicant has children in Canada or if the decision affects Canadian children, their well-being, development, and future prospects in Canada are considered.

5. Health Considerations: Unique medical needs that might be inadequately addressed in one’s home country.

6. Family violence considerations: If there are any family violence considerations those are usually considered by the Immigration Officer.

7. Consequences of Separation: If families will be split between countries and the potential hardships that may entail.

8. Conditions in the Home Country: This isn't about fearing persecution (which is a refugee concern) but about situations that might affect the Applicant’s quality of life, such as civil unrest or limited access to medical treatment.

9. Any Other Relevant Factors: The Immigration Officer will consider other compassionate reasons that might not strictly fall into the above categories.

The H&C Application Process

1. Submit the Application: Complete the relevant forms for Permanent Residence based on Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds and pay the processing fee.

2. Provide Comprehensive Evidence: Strong supporting documents are paramount. These can include letters of support, evidence of establishment in Canada, medical records, etc.

3. Await a Decision: The processing time can vary based on the complexity of the case. However, IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) aims to process most applications within 12-24 months.

4. Outcome: If approved, you'll be asked to complete medical examinations and provide police clearances. If denied, you can consider other immigration pathways or legal options.

Things to Note

1. Multiple H&C applications: You typically cannot have more than one H&C application at a time.

2. The cost and inconvenience of returning to one’s home country to apply for permanent residence are not, in the absence of other compelling factors, sufficient factors for H&C considerations.


Canada's Humanitarian and Compassionate considerations offer a beacon of hope for many aspiring permanent residents. Given the discretionary and individualized nature of H&C decisions, each application's narrative is crucial. To enhance your chances of success, consider seeking guidance from a seasoned immigration lawyer who can help maximize your chances of success.


Pius Omene is originally from Nigeria, was admitted to the Alberta bar in 2020 and joined FH&P Lawyers LLP in 2023. He holds TEP and MFA-P™ certifications, focusing on estates, real estate, and business law.