Within the Temporary Resident Visas of Canada, there is a specific visa that was created for diplomats and officials of foreign countries. This article will go through the relevant details on what this visa is, its requirements, and application process.
What is a Canada Diplomatic and Official Visa?
The Canada Diplomatic and Official Visa was created by the Canadian Government for these diplomats and officials to go to Canada on official duties and responsibilities. These diplomats and officials must be from a country that requires visas to go to Canada and who have a diplomatic or official passport.
Diplomats or officials from foreign countries do not require this visa to enter Canada if they are in one of these following situations:
- They have an old passport which has a diplomatic, consular, or official Acceptance issued by the Canadian Chief of Protocol for Global Affairs on behalf of the Canadian Government;
- They are accredited diplomats, representatives, officers, or officials of a country of the United Nations or similar international agencies or organizations where Canada is a member.
If you are a diplomat or official that is not in these situations, you will need a Diplomatic or Official Canada Visa even if you are from any of the countries that needs an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to enter Canada for other purposes.
With this visa, you will be able to enter Canada without going through a customs or immigration check at the Canadian port of entry. You will only have to go through a security check.
After you enter Canada, you may only stay for the time that you have an itinerary of official duties or responsibilities. You are not allowed to overstay your visa or try to take up employment or studies in Canada. You cannot apply for a citizenship of Canada, apply to get Canadian issued documents, or seek Canadian benefits such as health coverage.
You are only allowed to go through your official duties itinerary. If you want to visit Canada for purposes of tourism or other reasons, you must apply for a Canada Visitor Visa or another visa which fits your reason. Having a diplomatic or official passport does not immediately qualify you to enter Canada with the Diplomatic Visa, but you must have official duties in the country.
What are the requirements of the Canada Diplomatic and Official Visa?
There are multiple requirements to qualify for the Canada Diplomatic and Official Visa. The initial requirements must be your position within your foreign government. Different positions qualify for the Diplomatic Visa and for the Official Visa.
Diplomatic Visa Qualified Positions
You must belong to one of these categories to qualify for a Diplomatic Visa:
- You are a Head of State or a member of an organization with duties of Heads of State. If you are a Head of State, then your family members qualify to accompany you to Canada with the Diplomatic Visa;
- You are a Head of Government or a minister of a Government Cabinet from a foreign country. If you are a Head of Government, your family members also qualify to accompany you to Canada;
- You are a diplomatic agent travelling to or from your diplomatic mission or you are starting a temporary diplomatic mission in Canada;
- You are a career consular officer travelling to or from your consular post or you are starting a temporary mission in Canada;
- You are a delegate of an international organization listed in the Temporary Foreign Worker Guidelines which includes delegates attending conferences of these international organization, not including clerical staff;
- You are a senior official such as a Secretary General, Assistant Secretary General, or similar positions of an international organization listed in the Temporary Foreign Worker Guidelines;
- You are a senior officer at a P-4 level and above of the Secretariat of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO);
- You are a foreign diplomatic courier;
- You are a special case authorized from the Headquarters of the Diplomatic Corps Services (XDC)
- You are a member of the family or household of a diplomatic agent or a senior officer of the Secretariat of ICAO.
Official Visa Qualified Positions
Official Visas are given to persons who fall under one of these categories:
- You are a member of an administrative and technical staff of a diplomatic mission or international organization; a consular staff of consular posts; or a service staff of a diplomatic mission or consular post in Canada;
- You hold a diplomatic or official passport and you have been invited by the Government of Canada or a provincial/territorial government to attend a meeting in Canada;
- You are an official or expert on a mission who is acting on behalf of an international organization listed on the Temporary Foreign Worker Guidelines or you are a contractual employee such as a translator hired by the United Nations or the International Civil Aviation Organization for one of their organized assemblies;
- You are a private servant of a member of a diplomatic mission or consular post with a valid Household Domestic Worker Employment Agreement form which has been submitted by your employer who is a member of a diplomatic mission, consular post, or GAC Protocol.
- You are a person who is a member of the family of any of the officials.
If you do not fulfill these requirements, then you will have to apply for either a Courtesy Visa or a different type of Temporary Canada Visa. If you are a U.S government official, then there are other rules which apply.
Usually, U.S government employees get work permits under the R204 rule. However, there are some categories of U.S government employees who do not qualify at all for a Canada Diplomatic and Official Visa, such as:
- Officers of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS);
- Officers of U.S Customs;
- Employees of the International Joint Commission;
- Inspectors of the Federal Grain Inspection Service of the U.S Department of Agriculture or other U.S government officials who have a U.S official passport and have an assigned temporary posting in Canada.
How to apply for the Canada Diplomatic and Official Visa?
The application process for a Canadian Diplomatic and Official Visa is different from other Temporary Resident Visa applications. If you fulfill one of the requirements above, then you may submit a direct visa application to the Canadian Consulate or Embassy in your home country.
You must submit the following forms:
- Form IMM 5257, Application for Temporary Resident;
- Form IMM 5707, Family Information Form;
Other forms that you might have to fill out if they are applicable for you are:
- Form IMM 5409, Statutory Declaration of Common-law Union;
- Form IMM 5476, Use of a Representative;
- Form IMM 5475, Authority to release personal information to a designated individual;
In addition to these forms, you must also submit the following supporting documents:
- Your valid governmental or official passport;
- Your bank or other financial statements to prove you have enough funds for the trip to Canada;
- One of the following statements:
- A written requires from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the state to which the head of mission or post is accredited, or for which the diplomatic mission or consular post has jurisdiction in visa matters;
- A written request from a diplomatic mission or consular post of your government;
- A written request from an international organization listed in the Temporary Worker Guidelines;
- A letter from the Secretariat of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for which the diplomat or official will work with, signed by or on behalf of the Secretary General;
- A Declaration Letter from you to the Government of Canada where you explain why they should give you a visa;
- Two (2) photos that meet the Canada Photo Requirements;
- Your employment or education status through a resume or diplomas, as well as a letter from your employer stating that you have contractual obligations to fulfill and you must return to your home country.
With these documents, you must also pay the application fees. When you submit these documents, the official at the Canadian Embassy might ask you a few questions about the purpose of your visit to Canada and your official duties. However, you will not be asked to go through a medical examination or submit your biometric information.
The Consulate might take a few days or weeks to process the application depending on their workload or they will immediately respond to your visa application. They will either grant you the visa and stamp it on your passport, or they will deny it and let you know about the reasons for the denial.
What are the Canada Diplomatic and Official Visa fees?
To apply for the Canada Diplomatic and Official Visa you will only have to pay for the application. The application fee is CAD$100. Since you are exempt from biometrics, you will not have to pay the fee and you are also exempt from the passport processing fee.
How long is the Canada Diplomatic and Official Visa valid?
This visa is usually given for the time period that the person has official duties in Canada. However, in general, the Diplomatic and Official Visa is valid for 3 months once you enter Canada.
Can I bring my dependents to Canada with a Diplomatic and Official Visa?
If you have a Canada Diplomatic and Official Visa, you are allowed to bring your dependents with you to the country to accompany you for the trip.
You are allowed to bring your spouse or common law partner and your children who are under 22 years old. If your children are over 22 years old, then they may accompany you only if they are full-time students. However, if your child is over 25 years old, they cannot accompany you with your status, but must apply for a Canada Visitor Visa.
In addition to your family members, some service staff are also allowed to accompany you, if they belong in any of these categories:
- Private Servants of diplomats or officials;
- Live-in Caregivers of the diplomats or officials or their family members;