Canadian immigration law provides circuses with several ways to access foreign talent.

First, many circus employees will qualify for work permit exemptions under r. 186(g) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.  As the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website states:

Foreign, travelling circus performers should, in most cases, meet the requirements of paragraph R186(g), as they are usually coming for a time-limited engagement and are not in an employment relationship with a Canadian organization.

The IRCC website goes on to state the following for Canadian circuses:

In cases where the employer is Canadian, there is entry into the Canadian labour market, so [a Labour Market Impact Assessment] is usually required.

Some exceptions may apply to Canadian-based circuses, such as Cirque du Soleil, that can demonstrate the significant social, cultural or economic benefit they provide to Canada. In these cases, foreign circus performers, choreographers, artistic directors and others (that is, staff who are essential to the creative and artistic processes) who are working for a Canadian-based circus may be authorized to enter Canada, under the significant benefit exemption.

Circuses wishing to benefit from this exemption should be able to demonstrate that their shows are international in nature (for example, in presentation or because they tour outside Canada) and contribute to the ongoing, positive, international reputation of Canadian circuses. These circuses should also be able to demonstrate that their reputation as a circus depends on their recruitment of foreign circus performers, choreographers artistic directors and others (that is, staff who are essential to the creative and artistic processes) to maintain a high level of artistic and international prestige.

Artistic Staff

As noted above, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada guidelines state that a circus employee qualifies for a C10 work permit if:

  • the circus is Canadian-based;
  • that their shows are international in nature either in presentation or because they tour outside Canada;
  • that their shows contribute to the ongoing, positive, international reputation of Canadian circuses;
  • that the circus’s reputation as a circus depends on their recruitment of foreign circus performers, choreographers, etc.; and
  • that the foreign worker is essential to the creative and artistic process of the circus.

As with all Labour Market Impact Assessment exempt employees, the circus will need to create an employer portal and input information about their employment of the foreign worker into the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website.