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Humanitarian and compassionate grounds in Canada | Victims or survivors of family violence

For cases in which the applicant is a victim or survivor of family violence, officers should consider the following circumstances in their assessment of whether an exemption from section 39 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) could be applied:

  • It is not uncommon for individuals experiencing abuse to be unable to financially support themselves when escaping a situation of violence, resulting in a reliance on social assistance until they can re-establish themselves.
  • Survivors of family violence may have difficulties in regaining their financial footing even after escaping an abusive relationship, as they cope with many barriers such as
    • instability of housing
    • child-care needs
    • social isolation
    • a lack of language skills or work experience (in some cases)
  • Survivors of family violence may experience low self-confidence and lack the personal empowerment required to become gainfully employed. Many may not be ready to enter the workforce until they have obtained appropriate counselling for mental or emotional trauma.
  • Survivors with dependent children may not yet be receiving child support from their former abusive partner and require social assistance to support their families. For some, even if they are able to work, the cost of child care may outweigh potential earnings, resulting in a reliance on social assistance as a more viable financial choice.
  • In some situations, applicants may not be able to access key social supports such as housing or community supports unless they are on social assistance.
  • For all the reasons listed above, these applicants may experience long-term impacts of trauma resulting in a long and slow process towards sustainable employment after escaping a situation of family violence.
  • Officers may need to consider applying for this exemption on their own initiative, as applicants may not know to ask, and their situations may vary according to provincial or territorial social assistance eligibility requirements and programs.

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