Permanent Residence Application on Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds Denied for Hurricane Katrina Victim. What does it take?

Permanent Residence Application on Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds Denied

Sadly, as reported by Matthew Coutts of the National Post,  Mr. Daniel Johnson’s bid for Canadian permanent residence on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds was dashed when the Federal Court upheld the refusal of his application.

Johnson is former pro basketball player who fled the devastation of Hurricane Katrina for Toronto where he had two Canadian born children. He is a dual American/Israeli citizen and is a black Jew. He tried out for the Toronto Raptors, now coaches youth basketball for the disabled and disadvantage. And he came to Canada not only because of the loss of his home  and employment in Louisiana but also to care for his two children after his ex-wife gave up custody.

Sounds like a great case? I would think so. Unfortunately, not so in the eyes of Citizenship and Immigration and the Federal Court.

Humanitarian and Compassionate applications are typically filed by people who do not normally fall under one of the standard but restrictive immigration categories such as the Skilled Worker  or Family class. Humanitarian applicants are often undocumented de facto illegals living in Canada who want nothing more than to get their immigration papers and live a normal life. To qualify for permanent residence on humanitarian grounds, applicants have to show that they would suffer undue or unusal hardship in their home country should they be required to return  and that they can successfully establish themselves in Canada.

In Mr. Johnson’s case, his long history of volunteerism combined with the loss of livelihood as a victim of a natural disaster was just not enough for Canada immigration to approve his case.  Unfortunately, deserving cases like these are all too often refused. Humanitarian applications are highly discretionary and immigration officers are charged with the duty of assessing cases based on broad criteria. This makes the outcome of such cases very unpredictable with sometimes unfair results.

Mr. Johnson has obviously endured a great deal of hardship. There are so many strong elements to his case that I find it unconscionable that he faces removal from Canada. The humanitarian factors in his case are overwhelming: a victim of a natural disaster, Canadian born children, a stellar volunteer, a visible and religious minority. If Mr. Johnson is not deserving of an approval for a Permanent Residence Application on Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds, then who is? Indeed what does it take?

Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

  • fazia

    i have a question ,i am a failed refugee .
    i am a single mother of a son who is studing in 10 grade,doing job in canada and trying my best to support my child and me here .i cant go back as i had a very bad marriage and came here as my whole family was here and applied for refugee status ,during my time here i trying getting divorese as i know he will not give me one ,and now if i have to go i know he suerly be on my neck.
    my child is doing so well here in school ,now i dont have any family there i wount be able to support my self with out my family support .what should i do now .
    can i apply for H&C ,are there chances for me
    do reply me soon

  • Anja


    One of our clients wants to apply for permanent residence based on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. He was asked to leave Canada and already returned to his home country. He does not fit into any other immigration category. He worked in Canada for a number of years, has two young children and a significant other in Canada. Is he eligible to apply for permanent residence on H&C grounds from outside of Canada?

    Thank you for your help!

    • Dear Anja,

      For H&C applications, you must clearly demonstrate that you would experience unusual and undeserved or disproportionate hardship if you were required to leave Canada. So, if your client has already left Canada, s/he may not qualify.

      Hope this helps.

  • Hafif`


    I am a failed refugee claiment. I want to submit an H&C application. How long does it take to apply for the H&C grounds? What does the process entail?

    • Dear Hafif,

      An H&C application would be for someone who has resided in Canada for a few years and has established himself in Canada without legal status. Usually, family ties to Canada who are Canadian Permanent Residents or Canadian Citizens, employment in Canada, or social ties to Canada may show that a person has established himself in Canada. Typically, you also need to show undue hardship that you may suffer should you be required to return to your home country.

      The process involves the completion of application forms and supporting documents. The application package should have a very detailed submission letter outlining all the H&C factors of your case and explain why the immigration officer assessing the case should approve your case.

      Since H&C cases are largely discretionary, it is extremely important to prepare a very strong submission letter with persuasive supporting documents.

      The H&C applications usually take about 18 to 24 months to process.

      Hope this helps.

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