Dance Instructors, Guest Speakers, and Working in Canada Without a Work Permit

Does a professional ballet teacher require a work permit and a Labour Market Impact Assessment to give a 4 day seminar in Vancouver?  The answer is.. it depends.

Section 186(j) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (“IRPR“) provides that:

Work Without a Work Permit

186. A foreign national may work in Canada without a work permit

(j) as a guest speaker for the sole purpose of making a speech or delivering a paper at a dinner, graduation, convention or similar function, or as a commercial speaker or seminar leader delivering a seminar that lasts no longer than five days;

No Work Permit Required

In accordance with IRPR 186(j), the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC“) website explicitly states that guest speakers for specific events, including as an academic speaker at a university or college function, and commercial speakers or seminar leaders, can enter Canada to work without a work permit provided the seminar to be given by the foreign speaker does not last longer than five days.

CIC defines a seminar as “a small class at a university, etc. for discussion and research, or a short intensive course of study, or a conference of specialists.”

CIC defines commercial speakers as “people who sell tickets or registrations to people who come to hear them speak on a particular topic.” CIC further states that commercial speakers have a vested interest in the event at which they are speaking. Typically, they rent commercial space in a hotel, advertise, charge admission, deliver the event and then leave Canada.

Where the speaker is speaking to multiple groups, then as long as the duration of the speaking events is in total no more than five days, then they can enter Canada to work without a work permit.  The five days does not include travel time in the case of multiple engagements.

However, commercial speakers who are hired by a Canadian entity to provide training services, or guest instructors of a particular sport coming to teach weekend seminars, do require a work permit and possibly a Labour Market Impact Assessment.

So what about the professional ballet teacher?  The answer would depend on a very careful examination of what duties the professional ballet teacher was performing.  Did her duties constitute leading a seminar? Or did it involve teaching or training?  When did the seminar occur? On a weekday or on a weekend? There is a very fine line between the two, and in light of the CIC website these are all questions that need to be very carefully considered.  Ultimately, here, CIC did admit the individual under IRPR 186(j).  However, that does not mean that all dance instructors should assume the same, and they should consider the above questions in detail.

We recently through an Access to Information Act found a case where a Yoga Master Instructor was approved under IRPR 186(j). The reasons are below.


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