By Sukhram Ramkisssoon
A Federal Court judge has ruled that foreign nationals applying for permanent residence in Canada may ask the Minister to use their discretion to relieve them from requirements in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, because of humanitarian and compassionate factors. As stated in Supreme Court of Canada cases, the purpose of humanitarian and compassionate discretion is “to offer equitable relief in circumstances that ‘would excite in a reasonable person in a civilized community a desire to relieve the misfortunes of another.’
Given that the purpose of humanitarian and compassionate discretion is to “mitigate the rigidity of the law in an appropriate case,” there is no prescribed and limited set of factors that warrant relief. The factors warranting relief will vary depending on the circumstances, but “officers making humanitarian and compassionate determinations must substantively consider and weigh all the relevant facts and factors before them”
Let us look at a case of an 80-year-old widow, who I will refer to as Gloria, who holds citizenship for both the United Kingdom and Guyana. She last entered Canada on January 2020 and has maintained her visitor’s status up to this date by applying for visitor’s extensions supported by her relatives in Canada.
Sometime in mid-2021, Gloria retained our firm to submit a humanitarian and compassionate application because of hardships she would face if removed from Canada. My daughter Cindy Ramkissoon-Shears assisted in Gloria’s representation before Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). In Cindy’s submissions, she addressed the numerous supporting documents as to why it is necessary for Gloria to remain in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds based on her personal circumstances in Canada and abroad.
Cindy submitted the following:
- Gloria’s relatives in Canada provided letters of financial support in each application for her visitor’s extension
- Gloria is financially stable to live permanently in Canada and she is otherwise not inadmissible to Canada. She provided proof of her finances and investments in Canada held either individually or jointly with her relatives in Canada
- She is a widow and a senior person, who does not have any children or any remaining living siblings. Her extended family members in the USA are estranged from her
- In Canada, she has strong family ties, and these relatives are very supportive of her, thus having very close relationships with them
- She originally began visiting Canada in 1985 and has visited her Canadian relatives on a regular basis for many decades. Their relationships are long standing, dependent and she would like to remain permanently with them in her retirement years
- Apart from her own financial resources, her relatives in Canada provided letters of support where they are all seeking consideration and discretion in allowing Gloria to live the remainder of her years with them, since she does not have any relatives residing in England. Gloria lived in England for more than half of her life
- Gloria’s niece provided a supportive sponsorship application where herself and her husband are well established in Canada and have tremendous financial means to provide support to Gloria if needed
- Gloria does not have a support system in England, as she has lived by herself since her husband’s passing in 2004 and does not have any children. As time passes and she gets older, life is becoming exceedingly difficult for Gloria, since she does not have a support system
- Gloria understands her home country has a good health care system and there are long-term facilities to support her medical needs, however she would be all alone with no family to provide her comfort, companionship, or support
- In Canada, Gloria is surrounded by generations of family members, who make her tremendously happy and provides her a comfortable, happy, stress free and healthy life
- Gloria is the sole survivor of her immediate family and most of her deceased husband’s relatives reside in Canada, and some reside in the USA. She has no surviving family members in England and Guyana
- Family reunification is very important to Gloria, as it brings her comfort, joy, and peace of mind at her age. She is a very healthy senior, who is very energetic, loves to read, take walks, and helps her family.
Cindy submitted that in this particular case, Gloria has a deserving case that is not anticipated in the legislation and that granting permanent residence to Gloria will not conflict with any part of the Act or Regulation, but rather enhance the objectives of the Act. This situation is a forward-looking situation, where an elderly person’s best interests must be considered, since she lives alone with no family support in England.
Recently our office received a letter that Gloria’s application for permanent residence was approved, and she must now undergo statutory requirements such as completing a medical examination, provide a police clearance, etc. Gloria and her relatives were ecstatic upon receiving the good news and overjoyed they will be permanently reunited in Canada.
SUKHRAM RAMKISSSOON is a member of the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants and specializes in Immigration Matters at No. 3089 Bathurst Street, Suite 219A Toronto, Ontario, Phone 416 789 5756.