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Pandemic Saw High Refusal Rate for Humanitarian and Compassionate Applications

The refusal rate for Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) permanent residence applications has been on the rise since the start of the pandemic. H&C applications are the last resort for most undocumented migrants in Canada. This news comes amidst growing protests and demonstrations calling for better treatment of undocumented migrants in Canada.

We see that the only program that does exist for undocumented people is rejecting people at historic rates…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,

Syed Hussan, Executive Director of the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change

What is a Humanitarian and Compassionate Considerations Application?

Certain foreign nationals that are otherwise inadmissible to Canada and do not meet the requirements of an existing immigration program may make a request for Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds to be considered to apply for Canadian permanent residency. An applicant may make a request for H&C from within Canada, which Canada is obligated to consider. Immigration decision makers may grant permanent residency to these applicants upon taking into account their various circumstances. This includes how settled one may be in Canada, any existing family ties to the country, the best of interest of a child involved, and what may happen if their request is not granted.  

Rising refusal rate during COVID-19

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino has suggested that the high refusal rate is due to delays in processing of H&C applications is due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Syed Hussan, executive director of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, does not believe this to be the case, and that the number of applications processed has actually gone up.

Canadian MP, Jenny Kwan requested this information in an order paper question this spring. The data provided showed the rate of refusal, which ranged from 35 to 41 percent between 2016 and 2019, increased to 57% in 2020, and 70% for applications processed within the first months of 2021.These numbers do not account for withdraw applications.

‘Status for all’ demonstrations

Migrant justice network, Solidarity Across Borders held a demonstration in Ottawa this past Sunday. Hundreds demonstrators marched to Ottawa’s Parliament Hill, calling on the Canadian government to grant all migrants permanent immigration status. The organization contends that the immigration program implemented for health care workers excludes the majority of migrants. Solidarity Across Borders accuses Canada of pushing migrants without status into deeper precarity; many are unable to pay rent, afford food or pay for medical needs, a direct result of their lack of status. Due to the nature of their status, the jobs available to undocumented migrant tend to be “dangerous and poorly paid”.

They are working here, contributing to the economy, contributing socially, contributing to our city and to our country. So, what we owe them is amnesty

Giuliana Fumagalli, Montreal City Councillor and Borough Mayor of Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension to Global News

There are thousands of undocumented migrants in Canada that are working in essential occupations. Many have arrived legally but were unable to return to their home country due to healthy or safety concerns. Without status in Canada, migrants are left in a precarious position, lacking access to education and health care.

Lauren Boorman

Lauren is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant based in Montreal with a particular focus on researching and writing about the latest updates in immigration news.

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