This painting by a former refugee depicts the importance of the rights of women newly-arrived in Canada.

This painting by a former refugee depicts the importance of the rights of women newly-arrived in Canada.

Abused spouses trapped by residency rules


A government rule about newly-arrived, sponsored spouses is bad for women and makes it harder for newcomer women to leave abusive relationships, says the Canadian Council for Refugees, an umbrella organization representing advocacy groups across the country.

The Conditional Permanent Residence rule applies to someone who is sponsored to come to Canada by a spouse. If the two have not already been together for two years or they have no children, the newcomer must stay with the spouse for two years after they arrive. If they do not, they lose their permanent residence status and have to leave the country. The rule was passed three years ago in an effort to stop marriages of convenience, designed to sidestep immigration law.

Rule ‘traps people’

“The main problem is that it (the rule) traps people in a relationship,” says Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees.


The rule provides an exception in the case of abuse or neglect but advocates have found it is difficult to apply, forcing some women to stay in abusive relationships. “The bad news we already feared—and we just did some consultation with organizations across Canada and that confirms our fears were founded—is that having that exception is not enough to protect women, in particular women who are the victims of spousal abuse,” she says.

Janet Dench says there are many obstacles for abused women seeking an exception to rules obliging them to stay with a sponsoring spouse for two years.
Janet Dench says there are many obstacles for abused women seeking an exception to rules obliging them to stay with a sponsoring spouse for two years. © Canadian Council For Refugees

Many obstacles to obtaining an exception

The first problem is that many people and organizations are unaware of the exception. It takes time to get an appointment with an immigration to apply for the exception. An abused newcomer many have left home without documents. Language can be a problem and the process can be difficult without access to a front-line worker or a lawyer. Newcomers may be isolated or live in regions without access to this kind of support.

Process is doubly stressful, say advocates

“It is very stressful for the people who are already going through the stress of having been in an abusive relationship and then also waiting months to know ‘am I going to have to leave Canada or not.’ That of course is very stressful,” says Dench.

In addition to trapping people in abusive relationships, rule takes up a lot of the resources of advocacy groups and lawyers, she adds.

Advocates urge Liberal members of Parliament to live up to their party’s campaign promise to scrap Conditional Permanent Residence rules after they are sworn in on November 4, 2015.

Categories: Immigration & Refugees, Politics, Society
Tags: , , , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1.’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3.’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.