Help for spouses or partners who are victims of abuse in Canada

You don’t have to stay in an abusive relationship to keep your status in Canada

The person who’s abusing you might tell you that you’ll be deported or lose your children if you leave. If you’re a permanent resident, you have rights and freedoms in Canada.

There used to be a condition on some sponsored spouses or partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Under that condition, you had to live with your sponsor to keep permanent resident status. That condition no longer exists, and your status no longer depends on you living with your sponsor.

If you have temporary status in Canada, you also have options.

Get help if someone is threatening you

  • Call 9-1-1 or your local police in an emergency.
  • Call 1-888-242-2100 to contact our Client Support Centre for information on your citizenship or immigration status.
    • Choose the option for victims of abuse and forced marriage to speak directly to an agent.
    • They will tell you about your options. This includes a fee-exempt permit created for victims of family violence who need to escape their abusive spouse or partner.
  • Call 2-1-1 to find community, social and health services.
  • Find more services and information to deal with violence and abuse.
  • If you are a woman escaping violence, find a women’s shelter.
  • If you are a young person who needs support, you can talk to counsellors without giving your name at Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 or visit their website.



Help for spouse or partner who are victims of abuse

A message from the Government of Canada:

How to get help

We have organizations that can offer you support or helpful information. Services are confidential.

Find out how to get help if you are a victim of abuse or neglect.

  • You might feel very alone in Canada.
  • Your abuser might lie to you about your status in Canada.
  • You might find it hard to talk to people.
  • You might fear for your safety and the safety of your children.
  • You might find it hard to communicate in English or French.
  • You might be confused about your rights under Canadian law.

Getting help is not shameful. You have the right to seek help.

If you are facing family violence and are afraid of losing your immigration status in Canada by leaving your abusive spouse or partner, you have options:


Immigration options for victims of family violence

If your abuser monitors your computer, delete your browsing history.

If someone is threatening or abusing you, get help right away. Please call 9-1-1 or your local police in an emergency.

  • Do you currently live in Canada and are waiting for a decision on your permanent resident application?
  • Are you facing family violence?
  • Are you afraid to leave your abusive spouse or common-law partner for fear that you may lose your immigration status?
  • Has your temporary status expired?

We can help protect you by giving you a special permit to stay in Canada. It’s called a temporary resident permit (TRP). It will give you legal immigration status in Canada. You can also get this permit for your children if they are in Canada.

In Canada, you do not have to testify against your abuser to get temporary resident status.

There is no fee for an initial TRP in cases of family violence. Depending on your situation, it’s possible to apply for another TRP at the end of the initial period.

If you get a TRP, you can also get coverage for trauma counselling and health-care benefits. You may also apply for a fee-exempt work permit.

To get a TRP you can:

If you are a victim of family violence

  • to speak to an agent about your immigration status
    • contact our Client Support Centre at 1-888-242-2100
    • they can tell you about your options
  • call 2-1-1 to find community, social and health services
  • find more services and information to deal with violence and abuse
  • find more resources

Immigration officers at one of our offices will contact you to assess if you can get a temporary resident permit based on the evidence that you provided.

If needed, they will put you in contact with support groups that help victims of family violence.

Benefits of a TRP

You may need a TRP for any of these reasons:

  • to escape the abuse of your spouse or partner
  • to give you time to decide whether you want to leave Canada or consider other immigration options
  • to help make sure you are not separated from your children in Canada while you decide your next steps
  • to earn a living without fear of family violence (using a work permit)

If you want to stay in Canada permanently

If you are in a situation of family violence, you may be able to apply for permanent residence based on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds. If you do, make sure you clearly describe your situation of abuse in your application.

Be sure to mark the outside envelope with the letters “FV” to help us quickly identify your application.

If you are in a situation of family violence and already have an application in process, you can tell us about it. We’ll consider it in processing your application. Contact the office that has your application, or contact our Client Support Centre at 1-888-242-2100.


IRCC says an assessment will consider the following factors:

  • whether the foreign national is physically located in Canada and experiencing abuse by their spouse or common-law partner while in Canada, including physical, sexual, psychological or financial abuse or neglect through failure to provide food, clothing, medical care, shelter, etc; and

  • whether the foreign national is seeking permanent residence that is contingent on remaining in a genuine relationship in which there is abuse, and the relationship to the abusive spouse or common-law partner is critical to the continuation of the individual’s status in Canada.

Source:  Government of Canada – IRCC