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

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Will I be forced to leave Canada if I leave my partner?

If you are new to Canada, you might be worried you will be forced to leave Canada if you leave your abusive partner.

Your partner might threaten to have you deported from Canada if you report their abuse or if you leave them. Deported from Canada means being forced to leave the country.

Important: Your partner does not have the right to have you deported. Only federal immigration authorities can decide to deport someone.

Your risk of being forced to leave Canada depends on your immigration status here.

Important: A woman without immigration status experiencing family violence may be able to get a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) from IRCC. The TRP allows a woman to live in Canada for at least 6 months while she decides what to do next. A woman can apply for a work permit at the same time as she applies for the TRP and she will not have to pay a fee for either permit.

Canadian citizen

If you are a Canadian citizen, you cannot be forced to leave Canada only because you leave your partner.

Permanent resident with no conditions

If you are a permanent resident with no conditions, you cannot lose that status or be forced to leave Canada only because you leave an abusive relationship. This is true even if your abusive partner is your sponsor.

But immigration authorities might investigate if your sponsor tells them that:

  • your relationship was not genuine, or
  • you left out required information, or you included information that was not true in your application to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

This could lead to the loss of your permanent resident status. If you are concerned about this happening, you should get legal advice.

Permanent resident with conditions

If you were given permanent resident status with a condition to live with your partner who sponsored you, you were expected to live with your sponsor for 2 years after you receive status.

In April 2017, the government got rid of the condition that said a woman had to live with her sponsor for 2 years. Sponsored women now get permanent resident status without the condition.

And women who are in Canada with conditional permanent resident status now have permanent resident status without the condition.

This means you cannot lose your status or be forced to leave Canada only because you leave an abusive relationship.

In most cases, this applies even if you separated from your sponsor within the 2-year period. But this does not apply if you were ordered to leave Canada, and you:

  • did not appeal the removal order, or
  • appealed the removal order to the Immigration Appeal Division and lost your appeal.

If you are in one of these situations, you need to get legal advice about your options.

Sponsorship application in process

Your spouse may have sponsored you under the "Spouse or common-law partner in Canada" class. This is also called "inland spousal sponsorship".

If your partner withdraws this sponsorship while your application is being processed, you cannot get permanent resident status under this class. You can be forced to leave Canada if that is the only immigration status you have to stay in Canada.

But if you have another status, for example, a valid work, study, or visitor permit, you will not have to leave.

Other types of immigration status or no status

You might have temporary status. For example, you might have a work, study, or visitor permit. Or you might be a refugee claimant.

Or maybe you stayed in Canada after your temporary status ended, and you have no status.

If you have temporary status or no status, you should get legal advice about your options. Immigration authorities might not do anything if you leave your partner. But you might be at risk of being forced to leave Canada.

The steps you can take to try to stay in Canada depend on your immigration status.

You might be able to apply to stay in Canada by applying for permanent resident status on "humanitarian and compassionate" (often called H&C) grounds.

For more information on how family violence affects immigration status, see these CLEO resources: