Family members of Military personnel – [R205(b) – C20 or R205(c) – C41, C47]: International Mobility Program

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

In these instructions, “officer” refers to employees of both Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency.

In these instructions, “designated civilian” describes personnel of the designated states under the Visiting Forces Act (VFA) who have been designated as a civilian component of a visiting force.

The instructions on this page should be reviewed in conjunction with the following:

The family members of military personnel and designated civilians coming to Canada for the purposes of the Visiting Forces Act (VFA) may be eligible for an open work permit for the same duration as their military family member’s tour of duty in Canada.

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Reciprocal agreements eligibility [paragraph R205(b)]

To be eligible as a family member of a foreign national entering Canada under paragraph R205(b) of the VFA, administrative code C20, the family member must

  • be the genuine spouse, common-law partner or dependent child of the military member or designated civilian component
  • have received approval in principle from the Department of National Defence (DND)

Documentary evidence

With the application for a work permit, officers should be satisfied that they have the following documentary evidence to make an assessment under a reciprocal arrangement for a family member:

  • proof of identity (for example, passport or acceptable travel document)
  • proof of a genuine relationship (for example, marriage certificate, birth certificate, Declaration of common-law union [PDF, 1.43 MB])
  • letter of approval for a dependent work permit from the DND
  • proof of the military member or designated civilian component’s tour of duty in Canada

DND approval process

Family members of military personnel or designated civilians covered by reciprocal arrangements should request that their military exchange program coordinator or representative in Canada (for example, Embassy or High Commission) submit a request for approval to work to:

VCDS Outside-of-Canada Coordination & Support Unit

Work permit issuance in the GCMS – Reciprocal agreement

On the Application screen, officers should confirm or enter the following information in the specified fields:

Field Selection or input
Case type 22 Official status
Province of destination Should match the military family member’s destination
Exemption code C20
National Occupation Classification (NOC) 99999
Intended occupation Open

As specified in the approval letter to match their military family member or for the validity of their travel document, whichever comes first
Refer to Validity period for work permits.

Medical examination

If the family member has not completed a medical examination, the occupation must be restricted as per the following instructions: Medical conditions to be imposed for occupation-restricted work permits.
If the family member has passed an immigration medical examination, no occupational restrictions should be added.


There is no specific exemption for a foreign national entering Canada as a family member of a military member or designated civilian component.


Work permit fee exempt: E03 [R299(2)(g)(ii)]
Open work permit holder fee exempt: P01 [R303.2(2)(a)]
Biometric fee exempt: B18 [R315.1(2)(d)(iv)]

No reciprocal agreement eligibility [R205(c)]

Family members of military members or designated civilian components not covered by a reciprocal agreement may apply for an open work permit as the family member of a foreign national authorized to work.

Note: Any family member without an approval in principle letter from DND can apply under this category.

The administrative code to be used would depend on the National Occupational Classification training, education, experience and requirements (TEER) category of the principal military family member.

Military occupations are as follows:

  • 40042 – Commissioned officers of the Canadian Armed Forces (TEER 0)
  • 42102 – Specialized members of the Canadian Armed Forces (TEER 2)
  • 43204 – Operations Members of the Canadian Armed Forces (TEER 3)
  • 44200 – Primary combat members of the Canadian Armed Forces (TEER 4)

For eligibility and processing see the applicable instruction:

Fees: If the military member is from a designated country and their family member is issued a work permit under paragraph R205(c), the same fee exemptions from the processing fee apply.

There are no fee exemptions for spouses from non-designated VFA countries.

Biometrics: There are no specific exemptions from the biometric requirement.

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