Some of the strengths of the Canadian immigration system.
Canada’s immigration system, by its very nature, is forced to reconcile many differing values and aspirations.
For example, the system attempts to mediate between providing both consistency and certainty on one (metaphorical) hand, but also flexibility and fairness on the other.
The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA)is the main statute governing immigration to Canada. IRPA reflects this balancing effort.
When seeking immigration status in Canada, section 25(1) of the IRPA allows persons who do not meet one or more of the applicationrequirements set forth in the Act to request that the government consider waving the relevant requirements on humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) grounds.
The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration may also, himself, request such consideration.
When an H&C request is made by a foreign national inside Canada, the Canadian immigration system is obligated to consider it.
H&C requests can also be made by foreign nationals outside of Canada; however, there is no legal obligation to consider them.
To be clear, H&C consideration is just that: it is a request for an exception to usual application requirements, not an automatic grant of a waiver.
Canadian legislation and jurisprudence have a longstanding and well-developed framework for evaluating such requests, which has evolved considerably over time.
This body of work allows immigration officers and other decision-makers to grant exemptions to application requirements in many different circumstances, taking into account the facts specific to a given case (e.g. ties to Canada, medical, financial, and admissibility issues, the best interests of children involved, etc.) in a consistent manner.
Sometimes, however, a case emerges which, by its nature is very unusual and challenging.