A 53-year-old woman from South America was recently allowed to remain in Canada. She was granted a Temporary Resident Permit and Work Permit while her application for permanent residence is processed, based on her past abuse from her Canadian Citizen spouse.
Sometime in October 2017, “Mr. M.” sent Seeta (not her real name) a friend request on Facebook, which she accepted. They began messaging one another until Mr. M expressed his desire to meet her in person. At the time she was not in Canada, so he sent her an invitation letter to take to the visa office to support her visitor visa application. This application was also supported by other relatives because there was an upcoming family union and he wanted her to meet the family.
Seeta was issued a visa and came to Canada in May 2018. Upon her arrival, she accompanied him to his home and commenced living with him. Their relationship flourished and eventually they were married in September 2018.
Approximately two months after their marriage, their relationship took an unexpected turn when Mr. M started to drink heavily. He brought his friends over to drink and party; this was accompanied by bad behaviour. According to Seeta, he was disrespectful and treated her like his cook, washer, and slave.
On one occasion, he threatened to call the authorities while pointing a knife in her face. He threatened to pull her immigration paperwork and her send back to her country if she complained to the police. He refused to extend her visitor’s status but eventually supported an application to restore her status, indicating that he intends to sponsor her for permanent residence.
Mr. M. became very controlling, abusive, and sexually assault Seeta. He was emotionally, mentally and physically abusive to both Seeta and his son who was living with them. In turn, Mr. M reported her to the police because she defended herself. She was charged with assault using a weapon, specifically a slipper. The charge was later withdrawn by the Crown, based on the false accusation.
While these charges were pending, Seeta consulted the Immigration Consultant who handled her restoration application. She wanted to file a Humanitarian and Compassionate but was advised to claim for refugee protection instead. The resulted in her being issued an Open Work Permit.
Around the same time, July 2019, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship issued guidelines with respect to issuing Temporary Resident Permits (TRPs) for victims of family violence. Seeta fell within these guidelines because she was a victim of abuse by her husband – Canadian citizen who promised to sponsor her.
In June 2020, Seeta consulted me with respect to her pending refugee claim. I advised her about the TRP program, but to be eligible she would have to withdraw her claim for protection. Afraid of being removed from Canada, she desired to only withdraw her claim for protection, if IRCC was going to grant her the TRP. She subsequently filed a complaint against her former Immigration Consultant because of the wrong advice she was given and for pursuing an avenue that was not in her best interests.
In August 2020, our office submitted an application for a TRP, citing the violence she experienced, even though she did not submit a sponsorship application. It was also noted that Seeta was willing to withdraw her claim for protection, if she was so instructed to do so by an IRCC officer.
In mid May 2021, an IRCC officer contacted our office and informed me that he would like Seeta to withdraw her refugee claim so he may continue processing her TRP application. Seeta withdrew her claim and received an official Confirmation of Withdrawal from the IRB on June 9, 2021. The same was forwarded to the IRCC officer on that said date.
On June 10, 2021, a Temporary Resident Permit and Work Permit was issued to Seeta both expiring on June 10, 2022, during which time her application for permanent residence will be processed, according to the procedure set out in the guidelines.
Upon hearing this good news and receiving these documents Seeta was ecstatic and was very thankful to her friend John, for referring her to my firm.
Good luck Seeta and best wishes.
SUKHRAM RAMKISSOON is a member of ICCRC and specialises in immigration matters at No. 3089 Bathurst Street, Suite 219A, Toronto, Ontario. Phone 416 789 5756.