Newcomers to Canada experiencing family violence can now apply for a fee-exempt temporary resident permit that will give them legal immigration status in Canada. New rules governing the permits for out-of-status foreign nationals facing family violence took effect on July 26 and allow for the issuance of Temporary Resident Permits (TRP) to victims and their dependent children for a minimum of six months. The new rules apply to those who have yet to obtain permanent residence and whose status in Canada is dependent on their abusive spouse or partner.
Instructions issued by Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Ahmed Hussen, in June stated that the objective of the new rules “is to provide protection for vulnerable foreign nationals who are victims of family violence or impacted by it, by regularizing their status in Canada, when appropriate.” Among other cases, the instructions say an immigration officer may be justified issuing a TRP where it will “provide a period of reflection for victims of family violence who are out of status to further consider their immigration options” or “to allow victims of family violence to escape the influence of their abuser so that they can make an informed decision on a future course of action.” Under the new rules published July 26, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) said the intention is for victims of family violence to be assessed for a TRP “as expeditiously as possible.”
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.
Examples of individuals who may be eligible include foreign nationals in Canada under a Family Class Sponsorship who have left their sponsor due to abuse or have not yet left their sponsor due to fear of losing their immigration status.
The TRP process for victims of family violence is not available to foreign nationals outside Canada. Those eligible for the TFP for family violence may also be eligible for health-care benefits under Canada’s Interim Federal Health Program if they are not already covered by a public or private health insurance plan. Those with a TFP that is valid for at least 180 days will also be eligible for a fee-exempt open work permit. IRCC said it expects the majority of family violence temporary resident permit cases will come from within the Family Class, but cases outside the Family Class will still be considered.