Abuse: Interview considerations

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

The purpose of the interview is to gather information to make a decision on the application. An interview may only be required if there are concerns related to eligibility or admissibility for the application. If there are indicators that the client is being subjected to abuse and an interview is required to assess the application, the officer may need to clarify the situation of abuse during the interview to better address the situation, assess its impact on the application and refer the person to available resources.

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Interview style

While gathering information, officers should do the following to remain sensitive and not re-victimize people who report abuse:

Interpreter considerations

Interpretation services may be required, and may be provided by the Department. If the person needs an interpreter, the person should agree to the choice of interpreter before the person’s identity is revealed to the potential interpreter, to avoid accidentally increasing the danger to them by using family or community members.

For more information on interpretation services, see

Factors for safety risk assessment

In assessing the nature and level of risk to the safety of the person, the officer should consider the following:

Referrals to resources for victims of abuse

Officers should consider the need to refer victims of abuse to available resources in the community.

If referring the victim to online tools to find resources, the victim should be advised to

Resources in Canada

Resources in Canada
Type of service Available resources
Emergency response
  • The police should be called at 9-1-1 for life threatening emergencies.
  • An ambulance should be called at 9-1-1 for life-threatening medical situations, or the parties involved should go to the hospital.
  • In areas where 9-1-1 is not available, an individual should dial “0” to speak to an operator and inform them of an emergency. The operator connects the individual with the nearest police station, ambulance service or both.
Shelter
  • The Victim Services Directory is an online directory of local shelters. Individuals can enter a postal code to find victim service providers across Canada.
  • Women’s Shelters Canada provides a list of provincial and territorial shelters’ and associations’ websites.
  • Shelter Safe is an online resource to help women and their children seeking safety. The clickable map serves as a fast resource to connect women with the nearest shelter.
  • For victims in Ontario, Assaulted Women’s Helpline can provide telephone numbers, addresses and information about local women’s shelter. Individuals can call 1-866-863-0511 or the teletypewriter (TTY) number at 1-866-863-7868. The Assaulted Women’s Helpline also provides information on community counselling and social services.
Safety planning
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada has a safety planning guide for victims of family violence.
  • Individuals should make a safety plan if they plan to leave the abuser. This online safety planning resource outlines important considerations when developing a plan to leave the abuser.
  • This online safety planning resource contains “to do” lists to stay safe at home, at work, in public, in transit and online. It also includes a checklist of things to keep in an emergency bag if individuals need to leave their home quickly.
  • This booklet on safety planning provides strategies to increase safety when living in an abusive relationship, preparing an emergency escape plan and teaching children about the safety plan.
Counselling and healthcare
Protection orders and legal options
  • If an individual fears for their safety or the safety of their children, they may wish to look into getting a protection order against the abuser.
  • The individual may wish to seek legal advice on protection orders (peace bonds and restraining orders). They may also seek legal advice to identify breaches of the criminal code.
  • The Department of Justice’s webpage provides links to provincial and territorial legal aid services.

Resources abroad

The following webpages list resources for victims of abuse who are outside Canada:

Canadian citizens can also reach out to Global Affairs Canada – Consular Services

The officer may also suggest online resources (see the links in the section above), however be mindful that the safety planning kits were developed for victims physically in Canada and some aspects may not be appropriate for victims overseas.

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