Humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) applications and refugee claims: how are they different?

This information is for front-line workers and advocates working with women who:

  • have experienced family violence, and
  • have questions about their immigration status and the right to remain in Canada.

Immigration law in Canada is complicated. It is easy to make a serious mistake. It is important that a woman with concerns about her immigration status try to get legal help.

In general, people must apply for permanent residence from outside Canada. In some cases, it is possible to ask Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to make an exception to this rule for humanitarian and compassionate reasons. An application for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds is often called an “H&C application”.

This fact sheet explains some of the differences between an H&C application and a refugee claim. This information may be important for women who want to stay permanently in Canada and may need to choose between making an H&C application or a refugee claim.

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