Refugee and Asylum in Canada
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People who would not be normally eligible to obtain permanent residency in Canada can apply on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
Canada’s refugee system, among other privileges, allows refugees to file for their permanent residency under humanitarian and compassionate grounds. These applications can be divided into two categories:
Resettlement from outside Canada
Claiming refugee protection from inside Canada
Resettlement From Outside Canada
You cannot apply directly to the government of Canada as a refugee. You must be referred by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), a designated referral organization, or a private sponsorship group. And to be referred, you must fall into one of these two refugee classes:
Conventional refugee abroad class People who are outside their home country and cannot return due to a fear of persecution based on race, religion, political opinion, nationality or membership in a particular social group (gender, sexual orientation etc.). Conventional refugees can be sponsored by the Government of Canada; a group of people or an organization or a mix of both. You can also be a conventional refugee if you have the funds needed to support yourself and your family after you arrive in Canada.
Country of asylum class You may fall under this class if you are outside your home country or the country where you normally live, and have been seriously affected by civil war or armed conflict, or have been denied basic human rights on an ongoing basis. The country of asylum class refugees can be privately sponsored.
Once you are referred by the UNHCR, a referral organization, or a private sponsorship group, you will need to apply under one of the two categories. You will also need to pass the medical exam and the security and criminal check.
Claiming Refugee Protection in Canada
Canada offers refugee protection to some people who are already in Canada and fear persecution or would be in danger if they go back to their home country.
All valid and eligible refugee claims are referred to the Immigration Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The IRB as an independent board makes all decisions on refugee and immigration matters. The refugees can be categorized as:
Conventional refugee People who are not able to return to their home country because of fear of persecution based on race, religion, political opinion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group (gender, sexual orientation etc.)
A person in need of protection People in Canada who cannot return to their home country safely. This is because if they return, they would be subject to a danger of torture, risk to their life, or a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.
Canada has a Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States where people who want to make a refugee claim must do so in the first safe country they arrive in.
This means that if you enter Canada at a land border from the United States, you cannot make a refugee claim in Canada. In some cases, this rule does not apply (for example, if you have family in Canada).
Determining Your Eligibility For Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds
You’ve been living in Canada for some time; you have friends and family here, and are overall well established and have built a life as a Canadian. Your children have also been going to school and have become integrated in Canadian society. However, your refugee claim may have been refused and you have no other viable immigration option.
If you meet the requirements for permanent residence application under Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) grounds, and you are able to maintain your legal status in Canada in the meantime, this may be a path for you to pursue to remain permanently in Canada.
However, applications for permanent residency based on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds are only granted if you can convince the Officer that you have a deserving case and an exception should be made. Therefore, it’s important to have knowledge about how it works along with a lawyer to help guide you through the application process and provide sufficient supporting documentation.
But first, to help you better understand this process, we’ll explain what H&C grounds are, how the process works, and outline the eligibility requirements for immigrants looking to obtain permanent residency through this channel.
What Is a Humanitarian and Compassionate PR Application?
The H&C PR application is a pathway available for people who have made Canada their home and established close ties to their community but lack legal status and are not eligible to apply for permanent residency through other channels.
An application for permanent residency based on H&C grounds requires applicants to demonstrate to the courts that they have compelling reasons for remaining in Canada based on their establishment, separation from family members in Canada, best interest of their child and hardship they would suffer in their home country, also taking into account the country’s current conditions.