LMIA Exemption for the Performing Arts Sector

On February 3, 2016, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”, previously “CIC”) introduced new Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA“) exemptions, and expanded the Business Visitors category for certain foreign nationals so that they may work in Canada without a work permit.

The specific changes are:

    • the introduction of a LMIA exemption for prospective foreign workers whose work is essential to a television or film production and would create and maintain significant economic benefits and opportunities to Canadians and permanent residents;

 

    • the introduction of a LMIA exemption to prospective foreign workers working in dance, opera, orchestra and live theatre whose work contributes to competitive advantages and reciprocal benefits for all Canadians, including Canadian performing artists and performing arts organizations; and

 

  • that foreign nationals who are employed as film producers, essential personnel for commercial (i.e,, advertising) shoots, and film and recording studio users may now be considered as Business Visitors.

The LMIA exemptions described above take affect on February 17, 2016.  The expansion to the Business Visitor category is effective immediately.

Significant Benefit Guidelines

As noted above, starting on February 17, 2016, an LMIA exemption will exist for prospective foreign workers whose work is essential to a television or film production and would create and maintain significant economic benefits and opportunities to Canadians and permanent residents.

The IRCC website notes that such positions are typically unionized and pay above the provincial median wage for all occupations.

Applicants are advised to provide both a letter of support from the production as well as a letter from the relevant union or guild.

Work permits will be valid for the duration of the intended employment, or until the expiry of the foreign national’s travel document, whichever is earlier.  If there is no end date to the duration of intended employment, then the work permit will be valid for up to two years, or until the expiry of the foreign national’s travel document.

Reciprocal Employment Guidelines

As noted above, starting on February 17, 2016, an LMIA exemption will exist for prospective foreign workers working in dance, opera, orchestra and live theatre whose work contributes to competitive advantages and reciprocal benefits for all Canadians, including Canadian performing artists and performing arts organizations.

Evidence of reciprocal employment opportunities include:

    • where an offer of employment clearly indicates that the applicant’s job offer is in the dance, opera, orchestra or live theatre disciple of the arts, and that the employer is a current recipient of annual or multi-year operational funding support from the Canada Council for the arts or of financial support via parliamentary appropriation;

 

    • where there is a letter (or other evidence) submitted by the foreign national that has been provided by an applicable Canadian performing arts representative or service organization and that proves reciprocal international opportunities exist for Canadians in that discipline.  A 1:1 ratio is not necessary; rather, proof that similar opportunities exist for Canadians internationally is sufficient; and

 

  • where the applicant can provide a copy of a formal agreement between a Canadian performing arts organization and an international performing arts organization that stipulates the employment of particular workers who possess intellectual property related to the production.

Work permits will be valid for the duration of the intended employment, or until the expiry of the foreign national’s travel document, whichever is earlier.  If there is no end date to the duration of intended employment, then the work permit will be valid for up to two years, or until the expiry of the foreign national’s travel document.

Business Visitors 

As noted above, foreign nationals who are employed as film producers, essential personnel for commercial (i.e,, advertising) shoots, and film and recording studio users may be considered as Business Visitors.

The film producers must be employed by foreign companies.

As well, the essential personnel (e.g., actors, directors, technicians) must be entering Canada for a short duration, which on the IRCC website is stated as being no longer than two weeks.  The commercial must be foreign-financed.

This Business Visitor category is in addition to the existing work permit exemption for performing artists, which includes:

More information about the new LMIA exemption and Business Visitor categories can be found here.

Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about his upcoming change.


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