70% of Humanitarian & Compassionate Grounds Applications Were Rejected in 2021

Data Shows Alarming Increase in H&C Application Refusals

Canada is rejecting more and more permanent residency applications on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, according to recent data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

The data became available following an order paper question from NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan this past spring.

The data shows that the rate of refusal of Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds applications rose from 35 per cent in 2019 to nearly 70 per cent in early 2021. This does not include withdrawn applications.

“These decisions were done quietly behind closed doors and there is little public accountability in this opaque and discretionary process,” said Kwan. “The Liberal government must provide answers to why there is such a significant jump in refusals and take immediate action to rectify this.”

For those who are unfamiliar, Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds is a way for immigrants who do not fit within the criteria for permanent residency to apply by presenting compelling and compassionate reasons for why they should be granted permanent residency. Applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, with factors taken into consideration such as:

  • How long the applicant has been living in Canada and their establishment in Canada
  • Their ties to the community
  • The best interests of any children involved
  • The negative consequences that would result from them being sent back to their country of origin

Often, this route is a last resort option for undocumented migrants who have been living and working in Canada and have developed close ties to their communities. Without this permanent residency pathway, they would not have access to healthcare and education, or have the ability to  become citizens.

Syed Hussan, executive director of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, told the Canadian Press that he is unsure of why so many Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds applications are being rejected. He does not believe that slowdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is the cause, since the number of applications being processed has increased.

“We don’t know what’s happening. We don’t know why it’s happening. There has been no policy change, no public announcement, no change in legal cases, but rejection rates have increased,” Hussan told the Canadian Press. “It’s on the federal government to explain.”