Federal Court criticizes immigration officer for not fully considering depth of abusive relationship

Court granted review in 'humanitarian and compassionate' case

Federal Court criticizes immigration officer for not fully considering depth of abusive relationship

The Federal Court has granted a judicial review application concerning the rejection of a family's application for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) grounds.

The dispute in Andino Jimenez v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2024 FC 250 involved the assessment of the unique circumstances of applicants seeking relief under s. 25 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).

The applicants, Leonardo Andino Jimenez, his common-law spouse Megguy Tatiana Moreira Macias, and their son Iker, had sought permanent residence in Canada, citing significant personal hardships and the potential for undue suffering if forced to return to their countries of origin or Spain, where they hold citizenship. The family entered Canada in 2015 and has since established a life here, with Jimenez working in construction and Moreira Macias initially working as a cleaner before taking maternity leave for their second child, born in Canada in 2021.

The senior immigration officer who reviewed their application concluded that their circumstances did not justify an exemption under H&C grounds, a decision primarily based on the assessment of hardship, establishment in Canada, and the children's best interests. Despite acknowledging the general conditions of crime, violence, and discrimination in the Dominican Republic and Ecuador, the officer found no direct impact on the applicants. The officer also noted the family's ability to live anywhere within the European Union, thus diminishing the weight of their reluctance to return to Spain due to familial tensions.

However, the Federal Court found fault with the officer's analysis, particularly concerning the treatment of evidence related to the father's influence over Jimenez and the family's established life in Canada. The court criticized the officer for not fully considering the depth of the abusive relationship with Jimenez's father and the potential repercussions of returning to Spain. This oversight, the court indicated, compromised the reasonableness of the officer's global assessment of the H&C factors, leading to the decision's overturning.

The court emphasized the need for a compassionate, holistic approach to evaluating H&C applications, aligning with the Supreme Court of Canada's directives in jurisprudence. It highlighted the importance of considering the cumulative impact of an applicant's circumstances, including familial relationships and the potential for hardship upon return to a country of nationality, even when that country is within the European Union.

As the court granted the judicial review, the case was sent back for re-evaluation, offering the applicants a renewed opportunity to argue their case for staying in Canada.

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