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Do you know a woman who is being abused? A legal rights handbook

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Getting legal help

Important: Immigration law in Canada is complicated. It is easy to make a serious mistake. It is important that you get legal advice from a lawyer who does immigration law. If you are worried about your immigration status, are at risk of losing your status, or are unsure what your status is, you need to get legal advice.

Your lawyer can do things like:

  • help you apply to stay in Canada
  • help you understand how your immigration status might affect any family law or criminal law issues
  • explain the differences between making an H&C application and a refugee claim
  • help you decide if you should apply to separate your refugee claim from your partner's refugee claim

You might be able to get a Legal Aid certificate to help you with an H&C application in certain situations, such as if you have experienced domestic violence and there are children involved. To apply, call Legal Aid Ontario toll-free at 1-800-668-8258.

Legal Aid certificate: a document that says Legal Aid Ontario has agreed to pay for a certain number of hours of a lawyer's time to work on your legal issues. Not all lawyers accept these certificates. You have to find a lawyer who agrees to work for you and agrees to accept your certificate. You can find a lawyer who accepts Legal Aid certificates online at

Legal Aid Ontario's Refugee Law Office offers free help to people leaving an abusive relationship with their:

  • refugee claims
  • H&C applications
  • other immigration questions

You can call them toll free at 1-855-854-8111 or at 416-977-8111 in Toronto. Your local community legal clinic might also be able to help you.

If you have experienced family violence and need immediate legal help, you might be able to get 2 hours of free advice from a lawyer.

If you need advice from a family lawyer and an immigration lawyer you can ask to get advice for both.

This service is offered through some women's shelters, community legal clinics, and Family Law Service Centres. Or you can call Legal Aid Ontario toll-free at 1-800-668-8258 to find out more. See General legal services.

You might need to speak to a family lawyer, especially if you have children. If you have a family law court order that deals with your children, it is important to get family law advice about your situation.