International Mobility Program: Criteria for applicants seeking accreditation of immediate members of the family of foreign representatives

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

The following is from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) Office of Protocol’s Circular Note #XDC-0643 of April 25, 2005, which outlines the criteria that must be met by applicants seeking accreditation of immediate members of the family of foreign representatives:

Children under the age of 19

The DFATD will continue to accept that children under the age of 19 qualify as “members of the family forming part of the household”, provided that all of the following conditions are met, namely that the applicant:

  1. is the unmarried son or daughter of the employee and/or of their spouse or common-law partner;
  2. is physically living in the household of the employee, unless pursuing studies elsewhere in Canada or abroad;
  3. is attending a local and recognized education institution on a full-time basis, or, if studying outside Canada, intends to join the family during school breaks and vacation.

Children between the ages of 19 and 25

A child having attained the age of 19 will qualify as a “member of the family forming part of the household” up until the 25th birthday if the applicant meets all of the following requirements, namely that they:

  1. are the unmarried son or daughter of the employee and/or of their spouse or common-law partner;
  2. are physically living in the household of the employee, unless pursuing studies elsewhere in Canada or abroad;
  3. are wholly or substantially financially dependent on their parents;
  4. have not established their own household or family; and
  5. provide proof of enrolment in full-time studies in a recognized educational establishment and maintain this full-time status, whether studying locally or outside Canada.

The DFATD will consider extending accreditation beyond the age of 25 in the case of an unmarried son or daughter who is physically or mentally challenged or terminally ill and who is financially or emotionally supported by the accredited parent. The DFATD may however require that a certified medical certificate be submitted by the diplomatic mission during the accreditation process.

Adopted children

A person under 25 years of age whom the employee has legally adopted and who otherwise meets the policy requirements set forth in sections 1 and 2 of this circular note will be eligible for accreditation only if proof of adoption is submitted and there is no suggestion that the adoption was obtained primarily with the objective of acquiring special status under the Vienna Convention. Children to whom the relation to the principal or spouse is based on “custody” or “guardianship” are not eligible for accreditation.

Parents and in-laws of the principal

Mothers and fathers as well as mothers-in-law and fathers-in-law will not normally be accepted as “member of the family forming part of the household”. As a preliminary step, the DFATD expects that consideration for their accreditation be officially sought via the Office of Protocol prior to their effective entry into Canada and before they submit an application for a temporary resident visa. In this regard, applicants will be eligible for special consideration if the diplomatic mission provides detailed justification, including but not limited to:

  1. proof of financial dependency on the employee;
  2. proof that they were physically and principally living with the employee as a dependant prior to entry into Canada;
  3. proof of recognition as a dependant by the sending state (i.e., on the employee’s travel orders); and
  4. a written statement that they will not seek remunerated employment in Canada during the accreditation period.

With respect to the above, it would not be appropriate for diplomatic missions to seek accreditation in favour of parents and in-laws who are simply intent on travelling to Canada for the purpose of visiting the employee.

Peripheral family members and persons not covered under Canada’s policy

The DFATD must emphasize that accreditation of dependants is restricted to those covered under the above categories. As a result, the DFATD will not extend special status to nephews or nieces, grand-children and other extended members of the family, including those whose legal custody or guardianship was obtained prior or during the accreditation period of the employee.

While the DFATD does not in principle object to their presence in Canada, these individuals shall be required to apply for the appropriate temporary resident visa or study permit through a Canadian mission abroad, subject to all applicable immigration requirements.

Employment

As stated in paragraph 186(c) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, a foreign national may work in Canada without a work permit if the foreign national is a family member of a foreign representative in Canada who is accredited with diplomatic status by the DFATD and that the DFATD has stated in writing that it does not object to the foreign national working in Canada.

Note: The DFATD Office of Protocol’s definition of family member encompasses only spouses, common-law partners and children (including adopted children).

Requirements and procedures

Requirements for approval by the DFATD

The DFATD requires bilateral and multilateral missions and international organizations in Canada to seek approval through diplomatic note or official letter for the employment of any member of the family forming part of the foreign representative’s household.

The DFATD grants permission to work to those family members only in the following cases:

  • The country has signed a reciprocal employment arrangement or a reciprocal employment agreement (REA) with Canada. These (non-binding) arrangements or (binding) agreements allow for family members of Canadian foreign representatives abroad to be employed in the other country.
  • The headquarters agreement of an international organization or a United Nations organization includes an article stating that family members can work.
  • Where the DFATD Office of Protocol is satisfied that circumstances warrant special processing, it has the discretion to approve such applications notwithstanding the absence of clearly established reciprocity or international instrument.

Immunities and work permit requirements

  • All family members of foreign representatives are subject to administrative or civil jurisdiction for acts or omissions related to their employment.
  • Family members of diplomats are exempt under R186(c) and are eligible to work from the moment they receive a no-objection letter from the DFATD so long as they meet the following three criteria:
    1. They must be accredited by the DFATD (i.e., have a counterfoil in their passport). This shows the person meets the definition of family member of a foreign representative.
    2. They must have diplomatic status (i.e., the Acceptance counterfoil will be a “D” or “I” category).
    3. They must have a no-objection letter from the DFATD (normally only issued if there is reciprocal employment arrangement with that country). This shows that the DFATD has granted the person permission to work.
  • Persons exempt from a work permit under R186(c) may request a work permit to facilitate their movement in the labour market (i.e., to assure prospective employers that they have the authority to work in Canada). Such a request should be facilitated. The work permit may be issued pursuant to R205(b) (exemption code C20).
  • Family members of foreign representatives who have only official status (i.e., the Acceptance counterfoil will be a “J” or “C”) are not exempt from the work permit requirement under R186(c). However, they may be included under an REA and be given permission to work by the DFATD, who will issue a no-objection letter indicating this. A work permit may be issued pursuant to R205(b) (exemption code C20) so long as they meet the following three criteria:
    1. They must be accredited by the DFATD (i.e., have a counterfoil in their passport). This shows the person meets the definition of family member of a foreign representative.
    2. They must have official status (i.e., the Acceptance counterfoil will be a “C” or “J” category).
    3. They must have a no-objection letter from the DFATD (normally only issued if there is reciprocal employment arrangement with that country). This shows that the DFATD has granted the person permission to work.

For more information, see Employment of Family Members of Foreign Representatives.

Procedures for issuance of a work permit (when requested or required)

  • Persons must present a copy of the no-objection letter issued by the DFATD (it normally indicates that reciprocity exists).
  • Persons must present photocopies of the required pages of the passport, including a copy of the counterfoil. (Verification can be obtained by contacting the DFATD Office of Protocol at 343-203-3011.)
  • No restriction on the type of employment or on the employer should be imposed, except if indicated in the note. An open work permit or, if a medical examination has not been passed, an open or occupation restricted work permit should be issued.
  • The case type should indicate “Official status”.
  • Printed remarks on the document should indicate “Accredited by the DFATD at time of work permit issuance”.
  • Fees should not be requested for the application.

Non-accredited family members

The DFATD will only issue a no-objection letter to persons who are accredited. Should a person not be accredited, the DFATD will refer that person to immigration officials.

Family members who are not accredited may qualify for a study permit or a work permit under regular immigration requirements.

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: