Haitians and Zimbabweans - additional time to apply for permanent residence
In February 2016, the federal government announced that it is giving an additional six months to Haitians and Zimbabweans to apply for permanent residence in Canada on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds without risk of removal. Applications must be submitted by August 4, 2016.
Who does this announcement apply to?
Haitians and Zimbabweans who:
- Were in Canada on December 1, 2014 and are still in Canada;
- Are the subject of a removal order (including a conditional removal order) or are out of status;
- Are not inadmissible to Canada on criminality or related grounds, and
- Have never been found ineligible to make a refugee claim.
For the full details, see the criteria.
What does the announcement mean?
People affected by this measure:
- Will not face removal from Canada between now and August 4, 2016.
- Can apply for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds (H&C).
- Will not face removal from Canada until after a decision on an H&C application, if the H&C application is submitted by August 4, 2016.
Why did the federal government introduce these measures?
On December 1, 2014 the government ended the moratorium on removals to Haiti and Zimbabwe. At the same time, they gave Haitians and Zimbabweans who were in Canada and affected by the moratorium six months to apply for H&C. Many affected people did not apply, perhaps because they did not realize they could apply or because they lacked support.
The government has decided to give these people six more months to apply.
What needs to be done?
- Encourage anyone affected to apply for permanent residence.
- Circulate as widely as possible this information, especially in places where it might reach affected people. (You can share this Facebook post)
- Support people affected in applying for permanent residence.
How many people are affected?
It is estimated that there are approximately 1,025 people affected (about 900 Haitians and 125 Zimbabweans).
How do you apply for H&C?
To apply for H&C, affected persons need to:
- Carefully complete all the required forms: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/handc.asp
- Pay the fees ($550 per adult, $150 per dependent child)
- Put the application in an envelope marked “Haiti – TSR” or “Zimbabwe – TSR” and send it with supporting documents, including fee receipts to:
Backlog Reduction Office—Vancouver
#600–605 Robson Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 5J3
People living in Quebec need to complete an additional form (only available in French) http://www.immigration-quebec.gouv.qc.ca/publications/fr/dcs/A-0523-IF-dyn.pdf.
Making an H&C application is complicated and challenging. It is recommended that applicants be assisted by experienced lawyers. If the forms are not correctly filled out, the application may be rejected as incomplete. If the arguments for H&C grounds are not fully presented, the application may be rejected even though there are strong humanitarian grounds.
QUESTIONS ABOUT SPECIFIC SITUATIONS
I already applied for H&C and my application was refused. Can I apply again?
Yes, you can apply again and the measures in the announcement apply to you, if you meet all the criteria. You have until August 4, 2016 to put in a new H&C application. (Approximately 80 Haitians and Zimbabweans who applied under the December 2014 measures were refused).
I am currently in the refugee claim process. Can I apply for H&C?
No, you cannot apply for H&C if you still waiting for a decision on your refugee claim. The law does not allow you to make an H&C application while you have a refugee claim pending. However, if you receive a negative decision on your refugee claim, you can apply (see next question).
My refugee claim was recently refused. Can I apply for H&C?
Yes, you can apply for H&C if you meet all the criteria (including having been in Canada since December 1, 2014). Normally, the law does not allow refused claimants to apply for H&C for 12 months after refusal, but this rule does not apply to Haitians and Zimbabweans who meet the criteria of these special measures. The government has adopted a public policy to exempt affected people from the 12 month bar: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/laws-policy/pp-ref-haiti-zim-2.asp.
If you made your claim before 1 December 2014, you have 6 months following the negative decision to apply for H&C. For example, if you made a refugee claim before December 1, 2014 and your refugee claim is refused on 1 April 2016, you will have until 1 October 2016 to make an H&C application. (This is based on a provision in the December 2014 special measures.)
I think that the criminality or other exclusions might apply to me. What are they and how can I find out if I am excluded?
You cannot benefit from these measures if:
- You were found ineligible to make a refugee claim;
- You are inadmissible under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act on grounds of security (s. 34), human or international rights violations (s. 35), serious criminality (s. 36), criminality (s. 36) or organized criminality (s. 37);
- You were excluded from refugee protection by the Immigration and Refugee Board (i.e. on the basis of the exclusion clauses of the Refugee Convention);
- You have had criminal charges dropped by the Crown to effect a removal order; or
- You face an outstanding criminal warrant.
You should consult a lawyer if you think one of these exclusions might apply to you.
I am out of status – can I apply for H&C?
Yes, unlike the December 2014 measures, the new measures specifically include people who are out of status (for example, people who entered Canada on a temporary visa and overstayed). If you meet all the criteria and are out of status, you should be able to report to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to regularize your situation while you apply for H&C. There is some risk of being detained, but it is unlikely, since there is no possibility of being removed if you meet all the criteria. You should see a lawyer and arrange to go to CBSA with the lawyer.
I have already submitted an H&C application and am waiting for a response. What should I do?
You don’t need to do anything as you have already made an application. However, you may want to send additional submissions, especially if there is new information since you made your application (e.g. you got a new job, or you have had a baby). Also if you did not have an experienced lawyer to help you prepare your application, you should consult a lawyer about making additional submissions. You can send new submissions to the Backlog Reduction Office – Vancouver.
I have applied for permanent residence as a sponsored spouse (or other immigration category). What should I do?
If you are waiting for a decision on another immigration application, such as a sponsored spouse, you do not need to make a separate H&C application. However, in order to make sure that you are not called in for removal while the application is pending, you should add an H&C request to your existing immigration application to ask for deferral of removal under these measures. You need to submit this H&C request by August 4, 2016 You can only do this if you meet all the criteria for these measures.
What are my rights to work and to health care?
If you meet all the criteria and you have received a negative IRB decision on your refugee claim, you are eligible to apply (or renew) a work or study permit, for which you must pay the applicable fees. You are also eligible for health care under the Interim Federal Health Program (as is the case for other refused refugee claimants).
If you are simply out of status (e.g. you overstayed a visitor’s visa or study permit) you are unfortunately not eligible for the above.
Government notice about the measures: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/notices/2016-02-05.asp
Formal temporary public policy regarding 12-month bar on H&C for refused claimants http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/laws-policy/pp-ref-haiti-zim-2.asp
Applying for humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/handc.asp