The Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) Liaison Unit of the Office of Protocol: Clarification of Immigration Procedures and Suggested Contacts

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Office of Protocol) presents its compliments to Their Excellencies the Heads of Diplomatic Missions and notified Chargés d’Affaires, a.i. accredited to Canada, Heads of International Organizations and other Offices established in Canada and has the honour to clarify the general rules and procedures of immigration and suggest possible avenues to seek assistance relating to citizenship and immigration matters.

1. The Office of Protocol Citizenship and Immigration Liaison Unit

The Department must emphasize that all matters relating to immigration in Canada are the jurisdiction of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). Neither the Department, nor the CIC Liaison Unit at the Office of Protocol, have the ability to compel a decision of CIC, accelerate the processing of a file, or provide redress for unfavourable decisions.

The Office of Protocol’s CIC Liaison Unit is happy to provide the following services:

  • visas - processing information requests from diplomatic missions and international organizations accredited to Canada regarding foreign representatives who intend to come to Canada or accompanying family members who are eligible for accreditation
  • domestic workers - processing requests from diplomatic missions and international organizations accredited to Canada regarding Household Domestic Worker Employment agreements
  • births in Canada - processing information requests from diplomatic missions and international organizations accredited to Canada regarding the birth in Canada of children of foreign representatives
  • studies following the departure of foreign representatives - processing requests from diplomatic missions and international organizations accredited to Canada to allow accredited family members to remain in Canada to pursue studies following the departure of the foreign representative
  • locally engaged staff - processing requests from diplomatic missions and international organizations accredited to Canada regarding the hiring of locally engaged staff

Fax or Telephone Number

Fax: 343-203-3011
Tel: 613-992-0889

Hours open to the public

The CIC Liaison Unit is normally open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, except on statutory holidays. Please note that foreign representatives require an appointment to meet with a CIC liaison officer at the Office of Protocol.

Important notice concerning requests for information submitted for friends, relatives, or others who do not have foreign representative status

In order that it may focus completely on processing the above-mentioned requests and comply with Canada’s privacy legislation, the Office of Protocol’s CIC Liaison Unit is not authorized to respond to telephone calls, emails or correspondence from diplomatic missions or international organizations concerning the following issues:

  • processing of visa applications for persons who intend to come to Canada as tourists, students or temporary workers who do not have special status as foreign representatives or accompanying family members
  • any information pertaining to the status of individual immigration files for persons in Canada or abroad who are not considered foreign representatives or accompanying family members

For requests of this nature, more information is available below along with suggested resources to find additional information.

2. Visas and Status

Visas

As a general rule, in order for an individual to enter Canada, they must possess an entry document giving them the right to enter Canada. Some examples include a Canadian Passport, a Permanent Resident Card, or a Canadian Temporary Resident Visa. Foreign nationals are individuals who are not Canadian Citizens, Registered Indians, or Permanent Residents of Canada. Foreign nationals usually require a Temporary Resident Visa in order to board a means of transportation bound for Canada or enter Canada. Exemptions do, however, exist to this requirement. Citizens of some countries, for example, are visa exempt.

Foreign nationals may apply for visas at any time before entering Canada. For more information on the process of applying for a visa, individuals should consult CIC’s website or, if after consulting the website they have specific questions, the visa office serving their country of nationality or legal residence. A list of visa offices and the countries they serve is available on the website.

For more information on the requirement to hold temporary resident visas for all passengers during technical/refuelling stops as well as during transit stops at all Canadian airports, please consult circular note number XDV-0094 of June 14, 2012.

Status

All persons in Canada require some form of status in order to legally remain in Canada. Canadian Citizenship, Registered Indian status, and Permanent Resident status grant this legal authorization.

While some foreign nationals do not require a visa in order to come to Canada, all foreign nationals must have valid status in order to remain in Canada. Most commonly, foreign nationals are granted some form of temporary resident status. Some common examples of temporary resident status include visitor, student, and temporary foreign worker status. Status can be granted on entry to Canada (by an entry stamp, for example) or renewed once inside Canada.

Foreign nationals are not permitted to work or study in Canada without specific authorization to do so. A work or study permit is the most common means to this end.

For more information on the kinds of status available to foreign nationals, individuals should consult CIC’s website. If after consulting the website they have specific questions, the visa office serving their country of nationality or legal residence may be of assistance.

Locally engaged staff members at consulates or embassies require a work permit if they are foreign nationals. Further information can be found by consulting circular note number XDC-0024 of January 16, 2007.

Renewal of visa/status

With the exception of visitors receiving only an entry stamp, all foreign nationals will receive a document outlining the period for which they are authorized to remain in Canada as well as the conditions of their stay in Canada. The right to remain in Canada granted by an entry stamp expires six months after entry, unless otherwise indicated. Unless they renew their status, a foreign national must leave Canada prior to the expiration of that status. All renewals receive a document outlining their status.

Renewing status does not automatically grant a person a visa. A foreign national requiring a visa to enter Canada will not be able to enter Canada without that visa, even if they possess a valid status document. To better understand the distinction, it is helpful to note that some foreign nationals may enter Canada without a visa but must receive status on entry in order to remain in Canada; conversely, a foreign national may have status to remain in Canada without having a visa to enter Canada. It is therefore vitally important for a foreign national who needs a visa to have, or successfully apply for, a valid temporary resident visa before attempting to re-enter Canada.

A person does not have status in virtue of their Temporary Resident Visa. A person may, for example, have a multiple entry visa that is valid for considerably longer than the six months of status they would normally have in virtue of their entry stamp; they do not have status for the duration of their visa. Even if their visa is valid, it is important for all foreign nationals to renew their status before it expires. This is normally done by applying for and receiving a visitor record, study permit, or work permit.

Implied status

CIC sometimes issues documents to individuals after the expiry of their most recent status document. If a person applies for an extension prior to the expiry of their status document, they have implied status until they receive a decision from CIC (a new document, or a refusal). Under implied status, the person must abide by the same conditions they were under prior to the expiry of their status document. They may continue to work or study, for example, for the same employer or at the same school.

Restoration

If a foreign national fails to apply to renew their status prior to the expiry of their most recent status document, they are now without status. If they apply for status in the 90 days following the expiry of this most recent status document (called the restoration period), they may be eligible to receive a new status document if they abided by the conditions of their stay up to the expiry of the document. The foreign national cannot work or study during the restoration period or until they receive a new status document.

If a foreign national fails to apply for restoration during the restoration period, they must leave Canada and apply for a visa prior to returning. They may not remain in Canada without status.

Further information on renewing status, implied status, and restoration can be obtained from CIC’s website. If after consulting the website, an individual has specific questions and are inside Canada, they may contact the CIC Call Centre at 1-888-242-2100. Outside Canada, they may contact the visa office serving their country of nationality or legal residence.

3. Accredited Persons

Different procedures apply to individuals with accreditation.

A foreign national seeking to act as a foreign representative must apply for a visa if they require one and is strongly encouraged to do so even if they do not; this will grant them the right to enter Canada. It will also indicate to Canada Border Services Agency officials the status they intend to receive once they arrive.

Accreditation grants foreign representatives the right to enter as well as remain in Canada; the diplomatic ID card and passport counterfoil together demonstrate their status. The counterfoil is the entry document. Further information can be found in circular note number XDC-0625 of April 3, 2009.

Foreign representatives may work in Canada if accredited by the Department; they do not require work permits or other documents from CIC. For further information on the employment of foreign representatives and their family members, please see the Eligibility Requirements and General Guidelines.

Family members of foreign representatives may study if accredited without additional documents from CIC. For further information on continuing studies after accreditation, please see the Administrative Requirements and General Guidelines.

All efforts should be made to determine the status needed by a former foreign representative and apply for the corresponding status well in advance of the end of posting. If, however, a former foreign representative would like to remain in Canada to conclude their personal affairs they are accorded a 90 day grace period to do so. This corresponds with the restoration period. During the grace period, foreign representatives no longer enjoy any immunities or privileges. If, because of unforeseen circumstances, they wish to remain after the grace/restoration period, they should apply for restoration before the restoration period ends; they must meet all regular requirements as temporary residents and pay the applicable fees. No letters of non-objection or other facilitation is provided for restoration of temporary resident status for foreign representatives.

If, after accreditation, a foreign representative does not apply for an extension, is refused an extension, or is refused restoration, then they should leave Canada.

4. Canadian Citizenship and Permanent Residence

Certain foreign representatives may choose to apply for permanent resident status. There is no special category for foreign representatives; they must meet the requirements of permanent residence on their own merits. Further information on the facilities offered to foreign representatives and their accompanying family members wishing to acquire permanent resident status can be found at circular note number XDC-0081 of January 27, 2012.

It is not possible for an individual to be enjoy diplomatic, consular, or official accreditation while a citizen or permanent resident of Canada. For more information on the appointment of Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents as Foreign Representatives, please consult circular note number XDC-1407 of June 30, 2005.

Further information on Canadian Citizenship or Permanent Resident status can be obtained from CIC’s website. If after consulting the website, an individual has specific questions and are inside Canada, they may contact the CIC Call Centre at 1-888-242-2100. Outside Canada, they may contact the visa office serving their country of nationality or legal residence.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Office of Protocol) avails itself of this opportunity to renew to Their Excellencies the Heads of Diplomatic Missions and notified Chargés d’affaires, a.i. accredited to Canada, and to the Heads of International Organizations and other Offices established in Canada, the assurances of its highest consideration.

OTTAWA, April 3, 2013