(Source: Protocol Office, Global Affairs Canada, www.international.gc.ca)

Spouses and children of foreign missions’ personnel with an Identification card D or J may work in Canada without a work permit, if they have received a note or letter from Global Affairs Canada stating that it authorizes the foreign national to work. This note or letter is normally referred to as a “work authorization.” The Office of Protocol will issue a work authorization if an official request is made from the foreign mission, provided that:

  • The applicant is accredited
  • A Reciprocal Employment Agreement (REA) exists between Canada and the sending state (See the table below.)
  • The applicant provides a copy of a valid offer of employment (in the case of countries that impose such a condition on Canadians)
  • The applicant does not intend to operate a business as its sole proprietor, nor operate one as an equal partner
  • The applicant understands that their civil and administrative immunities are waived by the sending state, the international organization or the office with regards to this employment

The Office of Protocol will usually process initial requests within ten to fifteen working days. The work authorization note, or “no objection” letter, is only valid for the duration of the accreditation period. If the applicant’s passport expires before the end of the tour, then accreditation is only valid up to the date of expiry on the passport. On receipt of a new passport, the applicant will need to renew his or her Identity Card and request a new “no objection” letter or authorization note to continue employment. If Administrative and Technical staff status is granted, then the work permit will need to be renewed, which could take an additional three to six months to receive, depending on when it is submitted. Updated processing times can be tracked at www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/times/temp.asp. Applicants may ask Protocol to send a letter to their employer stating that they have permission to work until their new visa is received.


List of Countries with which Canada has Concluded a Reciprocal Employment Agreement or Arrangement (REA)

Albania

Argentina *

Armenia

Australia

Austria

Azerbaijan

Bangladesh

Barbados

Belgium

Benin

Bolivia

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Brazil *

Britain

Brunei Darussalam

Burkina Faso

Burundi

Cameroon

Chile

Democratic Republic of Congo *

Colombia*

Costa Rica

Croatia

Czech Republic*

Denmark

Dominican Republic

Ecuador

El Salvador

Ethiopia

Finland

France *

Gabon

Georgia

Germany

Ghana

Greece

Grenada

Guinea

Guyana *

Haiti

Honduras

Hungary

Iceland

India*

Ireland

Israel

Jamaica *

Kenya *

Korea

Latvia

Lebanon *

Macedonia

Madagascar

Malawi

Mali

Mexico

Moldova

Mongolia

Morocco

Netherlands

New Zealand

Niger

Nigeria

Norway

Pakistan

Panama

Paraguay

Peru

Philippines

Poland*

Portugal *

Romania

Rwanda

Senegal

Serbia

Slovak Republic

Spain *

Sri Lanka

St. Lucia

St. Vincent & the Grenadines

Sweden

Switzerland *

Tanzania

Togo

Trinidad & Tobago

Uganda

United States of America

Uruguay

Venezuela

Yemen

Zambia

Zimbabwe

* Reciprocal Employment Agreement under specific terms
Other countries may have bilateral agreements in place to improve employment eligibility. The latter may be obtained by visiting “Foreign Representatives in Canada” at the official Protocol Office website: www.international.gc.ca/protocol-protocole/

The home missions of foreign representatives may assist in the process of applying for a work visa for their staff’s spouses and children. Spouses and dependent children under 25, who wish to work, will need to go to the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website to complete an application:
www.cic.gc.ca/english/information/applications/work.asp

Once the application is complete, it is processed the same way as it would be for any other person applying for a work visa in Canada. There is no preferential treatment for foreign representatives. Processing can take from eight weeks to six months to complete. When the work visa is received, an application can then be made for a Social Insurance Number (SIN). To do this, applicants need to find their nearest Service Canada Centre (www.servicecanada.gc.ca). Everyone who is employed in Canada must have a SIN. This number is needed to file the income tax return. Until spouses and children of foreign representatives have completed the above process, they are not allowed to work in Canada. Those who pursue work in Canada without the required permission, permits or licences, and their employers, could face a fine of up to $25,000.

More information can be found at http://www.international.gc.ca/protocol-protocole/policies-politiques/employment-emploi.aspx?lang=eng