You do not have to stay in an abusive relationship to keep your status in Canada.
Abuse is when someone harms another. It is against the law in Canada. Gender-based violence is also against the law in Canada. This includes spousal or partner abuse, violence based on so-called “honour”, female genital mutilation and forced marriage.
Your abusive spouse or partner cannot have you deported from Canada if you leave the relationship or report the abuse. Only government immigration officials can deport you.
Leaving an Abusive Partner or Spouse
Different options are available to you depending on your immigration status.
If you are a permanent resident
You have rights and freedoms in Canada. Women and men are equal in Canada. Help and supports are available.
You should get legal advice right away if you are worried your sponsor may contact immigration authorities. They may investigate if the sponsor tells them your relationship was not genuine (real) or that your application was not true or complete. Immigration authorities can also withdraw your permanent resident status if they believe your sponsor is telling the truth.
If you are waiting for a decision on your permanent residence application
You can tell the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) office about the abuse. They will consider it in processing your application.
If you are applying under the “Spouse or Common-law Partner in Canada class” (also called an “inland spousal sponsorship”), you will no longer be eligible for permanent resident status if your spouse or partner withdraws the application. You may be able to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) or to stay in Canada based on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds.
A Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) lets you escape the abuse.
A TRP is a special permit to stay in Canada. You can also get this permit for your children. It gives you time to think about your options after leaving the abuse. You can work under a TRP to earn a living. You may be able to apply for another TRP if it expires.
To get a family violence TRP:
- Fill out the application and include evidence about the abuse.
- Mark the outside of the envelop with “FV” to help the office quickly see your application is about family violence.
- Send your application to the IRCC office closest to you.
If you have temporary status
You may be able to extend or renew your status.
If your temporary status has expired
You can apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP). If you want to stay in Canada permanently, you may be table to apply for permanent residence based on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds. You must clearly describe the abuse in your application. Mark the outside of your envelope with “FV” so that agents can quickly identify your application.
Another option may be to restore your status. To do so, you must apply to restore within 90 days of your status expiring. Find more information about restoring your status on the Government of Canada’s website.
If you do not have any status in Canada
If you have no immigration status or temporary immigration status (such as a work or study permit, visitor, refugee claimant), get legal help right away.
Talking to a lawyer will help you understand your legal rights and options. There may be legal issues about your situation you may not know about. For example, if you are from a country that Canada is not sending people back to because of human rights abuses, you likely will not be deported to your home country. If you have children, there are other legal issues.
Below are resources you can connect with to get help:
- In an emergency, call 9-1-1 (NOTE: If you call police and your status has expired, they may call immigration authorities.)
- Call the IRCC Client Support Centre for information on your citizenship or immigration status. Choose the option for victims of abuse and forced marriage to talk to an agent.
- Call 2-1-1 to find local community supports
- Find an emergency shelter by calling the Family Violence Info Line at 310.1818 or by searching online.
- If a child, call the Kids Help Phone at 1.800.668.6868 or chat online.
- Contact a pro bono (free) legal clinic in your area. Find a clinic near you.
- Contact Legal Aid Alberta (1.866.845.3425) to see if you qualify. Remember, you must pay back Legal Aid for legal services.
- Visit the Law Society of Alberta Lawyer Directory. This is a database that allows people to find a lawyer using a certain search criteria. Individuals can find a lawyer by searching by name, location, practice areas, language(s) spoken, gender, and whether a lawyer offers a limited scope retainers.
TIP | Visit www.cplea.ca/family to find more information about family law in Alberta.