Information for Sponsored Spouses or Partners

Regulations have been put in place that affect some spouses or partners being sponsored to reside in Canada. Sponsored spouses or partners in a relationship of two years or less and who have no children in common with their sponsor at the time of the sponsorship application have a condition attached to their permanent resident status.

What conditional permanent residence means for you

If you have been granted conditional permanent residence, you must live together with your sponsor in a legitimate relationship for two years from the day you receive conditional permanent residence. The condition ends after the two-year period.

Am I affected by this new measure?

Yes, if your application was received on or after October 25, 2012.

Yes, if you have been in a relationship of two years or less and do not have children in common with your sponsor.

No, if you have been in a relationship with your sponsor for more than two years.

No, if you had children in common with your sponsor at the time of your sponsorship application.

Your rights

Upon receiving conditional permanent residence, you have all the rights and privileges of a permanent resident:

  • You are allowed to work or study in Canada without a work or study permit.
  • You have access to health coverage and social services.
  • You are allowed to leave and re-enter Canada.

If you are a victim of abuse or neglect, you do not have to remain in an abusive situation. It does not matter whether the conditional permanent residence measure applies to you. In Canada, abuse is not tolerated. All physical and sexual abuse is a crime. All child abuse must be reported.

What is abuse or neglect?

Abuse is behaviour used to intimidate, isolate, dominate or control another person. It may be a pattern or a single incident. Abuse might involve acts, words or even neglect.

The abuse can be physical, sexual, psychological or financial.

  • As a victim you may experience more than one type of abuse.
  • Usually the abuser is a spouse, former spouse, partner or former partner. Sometimes, it can be a member of your spouse’s or partner’s family.
  • The abuser may be male or female.

Physical abuse is physical contact intended to intimidate or cause pain, injury, other physical suffering or bodily harm or forcible confinement. Among others, examples include being hit, beaten, slapped, punched, and pushed or shoved resulting in injury or that could result in injury.

Sexual abuse includes force or threat used in any situation, against the victim’s will, resulting in unwanted sexual touching or sexual activity.

Psychological abuse might include force or control not limited to insults, intimidation, humiliation, harassment or threats, name-calling, yelling, blaming, disrespecting, criticizing, or threatening to take away or hurt a victim’s children.

Financial abuse is where one partner has control over the other partner’s access to economic resources. Some examples include taking the victim’s cheque or money and withholding money, so that the victim cannot pay for things they or their children need, such as food, shelter or medical treatment.

Neglect is failure to provide the necessaries of life, such as food, clothing, medical care or shelter, or any other omission which results in a risk of serious harm.

Being abused or neglected by your sponsor or their family?

You do not have to stay in the relationship to keep your status in Canada if you are being abused or neglected.

If you are affected by the conditional permanent residence measure, you can request an exception.

If you are not affected by the conditional permanent residence measure, you should remember that in Canada, abuse is not tolerated. You do not have to remain in an abusive situation. This brochure provides information you can use to get help.

Forced marriage

Forced marriage is when consent is not freely given by at least one of the parties to the marriage. Unlike arranged marriages which take place with the consent of both parties, in forced marriages, individuals are coerced to marry, usually by family members, through threats, physical violence, or emotional manipulation. Permanent residents in a forced marriage can request an exception to the condition if they are unable to meet the condition due to abuse or neglect during the two year period.

Requesting an exception

If you have received conditional permanent residence status, you can request an exception from the condition at any time during the two-year conditional period. You can do so by calling the CIC Call Centre at 1-888-242-2100. Any information you provide will be kept confidential.

Thinking about coming forward?

  • You might feel very alone in Canada.
  • Your abuser might have lied to you about your status in Canada.
  • You might find it difficult to talk to people or fear for the safety of your children.
  • You might find it hard to communicate in English or French.
  • You might be confused about your rights under Canadian law.

Need help?

If you are being abused by a spouse, partner or member of their family, it is wrong and help is available.

If you are being abused and it is an EMERGENCY then call 9-1-1 or the local police.

If you are looking for help then:

  • call a women’s shelter
  • call a crisis line
  • contact a counselling agency
  • contact your immigrant-serving organization
  • contact a lawyer referral service, a legal aid office or a public legal information association
  • talk to your family doctor or community health centre
  • reach out to someone you trust, such as a friend or a relative
  • people can help you—you are not alone.

Getting help is not shameful. Services are confidential.

Prepare—services to help you

Create—in advance—a personal community resource list. In addition to the police, various organizations and agencies can offer support or helpful information. Look in the white, yellow or blue pages of your telephone book or search the Internet for the following contact numbers:

  • Police
  • Hospital, medical clinic or doctor
  • Public legal information associations
  • Victim services
  • Crisis lines
  • Shelters/transition houses
  • Mental health offices
  • Multicultural or immigrant-serving organizations
  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada
  • People you trust

Want to know more?

CIC has information and guidelines on the exception to the conditional permanent residence measure for victims of abuse or neglect.

A wide range of information is available on the Internet for victims of abuse or neglect, including a Victim Services Directory. The Directory is available on the Department of Justice website. Search for victim services in your local community by inputting the postal code in the upper right corner of the page.

The Department of Justice issued a useful publication titled Abuse is Wrong in any Language (PDF, 2.32 MB). The publication provides information in multiple languages about abuse and the law in Canada as well as where to go for help.

In Canada, abuse is not tolerated.
You do not have to remain in an abusive situation.
Help is available: by phone, in person and online.

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, 2013

ISBN 978-1-100-54519-6
Cat. no. Ci4-102/2013

Date Modified: