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One of the avenues for those who have illegal status in Canada is to sidestep the normal roots of applying by using the humanitarian and compassionate grounds offered by the Immigration Act. This provision allows the Minister of Immigration and delegated officers to overlook normal procedures required for permanent residence.

The Immigration Department states as follows:

“People who would not normally be eligible to become permanent residents of Canada may be able to apply on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. Humanitarian and compassionate grounds apply to people with exceptional cases. We assess these applications on a case-by-case basis. Factors we look 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 you if we do not grant the request.

You may only ask for humanitarian and compassionate grounds if you are applying for permanent resident status in Canada, or for a permanent resident visa abroad. We will not look at H&C requests from temporary resident applicants.”

Often the government will choose to remove a person who is here illegally and suggest to the person that the humanitarian application can still be made while they are outside of Canada. The question always arises whether it is better to apply for such relief from within Canada or from outside. As practising immigration lawyers we have always had the impression that the success rate of humanitarian applications from the outside was much lower than those made from within Canada.

A colleague from Ontario requested statistical research from the Reporting Group of the department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, National Headquarters, and obtained the hard statistics relating to such applications to determine whether there was any difference in success depending on location of application filing and the results were startling.

The statistics revealed during the following years the chance of success from within Canada or from outside of Canada:
In 2018 – from outside of Canada success was 3.8% and from within Canada 64.9%
In 2017 – from outside of Canada success was 1.7% and from within Canada 57.8%
In 2016 – from outside of Canada success was 2.5% and from within Canada 67.1%
In 2015 – from outside of Canada success was 0.5% and from within Canada 59.8%
In 2014 – from outside of Canada success was 0% and from within Canada 48.9%
In 2013 – from outside of Canada success was 0.6% and from within Canada 40.2%

The conclusion is obvious. If a person is being removed from Canada, the removal should be fought and the application for humanitarian consideration must be heard from within Canada since the chance of success from the outside is virtually non-existent.