Last Updated on September 13, 2021 by Steven Meurrens

On February 17, 2016, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) introduced a Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA”) exemption for foreign nationals in the television and film industry whose position or occupation is essential to a TV or film production.  On September 13, 2021 IRCC narrowed the LMIA exemption.

The exemption previously read:

(exemption code C14) –”]

The current requirements are that the work that a foreign national is performing must be:

  • essential to a live-action TV or film project in the production stage (filming): Essential positions are those where the physical presence of foreign workers on location in Canada is required to generate the expected benefit;
  • be high wage: Evidence of high-wage work is meant to establish that Canada will reap a significant economic benefit (for example, tax revenue) from hiring a foreign national and to protect the Canadian labour market from wage suppression;
  • unionized: Proof of unionized work demonstrates that the employment of the foreign national is critical to the production occurring in Canada while protecting the direct employment of Canadians.

Occupations that may meet these criteria include, but are not limited to, actors and actresses, directors, stunt persons, lighting specialists and choreographers.

Consideration under this exemption is to be given for the production (filming) stage of live-action television and film projects in Canada, regardless of whether

  • the production is foreign or Canadian;
  • it is filmed entirely or in part in Canada.

IRCC has also clarified that the following situations would not qualify:

  • Pre- or post-production work, for example, storyboarding, visual effects, sound editing or film editing. This work is not considered essential to the on location production stage (filming), likely does not have to be performed in Canada, and is beyond the scope of the policy. Pre- or post-production work would normally require an LMIA.
  • Work that is not specific to a production. Administrative LMIA exemption code C14 is intended for work on specific, named productions, so that there can be a valid assessment of the potential significant benefit (for example, job creation, local spending) of the productions to Canada. Long-term positions with a company, where the work is not tied to a specified, named production, may require an LMIA.
  • Work that is paid below the median wage. Salaries that tend to skew towards the lower end of the compensation spectrum may not, broadly speaking, support the argument that the work is of significant benefit. In addition, they could have a negative effect by suppressing overall salaries in the positions.
  • Non-unionized work. Officers should be assessing this specific situation based not on whether the employer is a unionized work place but on whether the occupation itself is unionized in Canada. Unions or guilds in this industry provide valuable information, through the letter of support, on whether sufficient efforts have been made to ensure that Canadians or permanent residents are hired whenever possible. Examples of positions that would not qualify under exemption code C14 are digital media or visual effects positions, as they are generally non-unionized.

Graphic Designers

IRCC has also introduced a Temporary Public Policy for Graphic Designers Working on Live-Action Television or Film in Canada. The Temporary public policy to exempt foreign graphic designers from certain work permit requirements comes into effect on September 10, 2021. This public policy is in effect until March 9, 2022. The purpose of it is to recognize the hardship that the narrowing of the C-14 work permit has caused.

To be eligible under this public policy, a foreign national must:

  1. have submitted a work permit application under section R200 or R201 after the public policy came into effect;
  2. be intending to work in an occupation that is included in unit group 5241 – Graphic designers and illustrators of the 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) system;
  3. be intending to perform work for one or more named live-action television or film productions being filmed in whole or in part in Canada, whether at the pre-production, production or post-production stage
  4. provide a letter from the employer, or an authorized representative of the employer, to support the work permit application in (1). The letter must attest
    • to the details of the named live-action television or film productions (for example, working titles, production locations)
    • that the foreign national’s presence and work are essential to the television or film productions described in (i)
    • to the wage that the foreign national will be paid, which must be both
      • the same as that set out in the copy of the offer of employment that was provided under paragraph R209.11(1)(d) and
      • at or above the median wage for NOC 5241 in the specific community or area of work, as specified on the Government of Canada’s Job Bank site
    • that the television or film productions described in (i) satisfy the criteria for a federal, provincial or territorial tax credit for television or film production, or are recipients of federal, provincial or territorial funding for television or film production