What’s the difference between a refugee claim and an H&C claim?

New IRCC refugee portal

You must make your refugee claim using the new online application system if you:

  • are inside Canada, and
  • are eligible to make a claim

You might also have to send information through this portal if a border services officer tells you to use it.

If your legal representative is submitting the claim for you, they must create an account and both of you must sign a Declaration form.

If you are submitting your own claim, you must create the account.

If you don't have a legal representative, it's important to get legal help.

There are many differences between a and a refugee claim. The rights you have as a refugee claimant are different from the rights you have if you make an H&C application. It's very important to get legal advice before you decide what to do. See Step 1.

H&C applications

You make a humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) application to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). You're asking IRCC to:

  1. let you apply for permanent residence in Canada for humanitarian and compassionate reasons, and
  2. approve you for status in Canada.

How IRCC decides

The decision on an H&C application is “discretionary”. This means that immigration officers have a lot of freedom when they decide about these applications.

Because they usually don't interview you, it's important to make a strong application that:

  • explains all of the reasons why they should let you stay in Canada, and
  • includes the best possible to support your application.

H&C reasons

Almost anything that makes others feel compassion and want to help can be the basis for a successful H&C application.

And if there's a child who would be directly affected if you were forced to leave Canada, this is an important factor. IRCC must consider what's in the child’s best interests.

Refugee claims

The (IRB) decides refugee claims that are made in Canada. Once a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer or immigration officer decides the claim is eligible, a claimant must prove to the IRB that they're either:

  • a , or
  • a .

Internal flight alternative

A refugee claimant must also show that they have no “internal flight alternative”. This means that there's no place in their country where:

  • they could get to safely,
  • they'd be free from the risk that they face, and
  • it would be reasonable to expect them to live.

How the IRB decides

If you're found eligible to make a refugee claim, you have a right to a hearing at the IRB.

If your claim is successful, you're found to be a and you can apply for permanent residence.

Basis for a successful claim

The IRB only considers whether you fit into the definition of Convention refugee or person in need of protection.

So, for example, being settled in Canada and having strong family relationships here is not relevant to a refugee claim.

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