Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada ("IRCC") has recently made it easier for foreign nationals in television and film, performing arts and commercial production to work in Canada on a temporary basis. Since February 17, 2016, certain job positions within these industries have been exempted from the requirement to obtain a Labour Market Impact Assessment ("LMIA").

Background

In general, Canadian employers hiring temporary foreign workers must obtain an LMIA from Employment and Social Development Canada ("Service Canada"). The aim of an LMIA is to gauge the impact of the foreign national's proposed employment on Canada's labour market. A positive LMIA indicates that there is a need for the foreign worker to fill the job being offered and that there is no qualified Canadian worker available to fill the position.

Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, exemptions from the LMIA process are available through the International Mobility Program ("IMP"). The new exemption categories apply to television and film (LMIA exemption code C14), the performing arts (LMIA exemption code C23) and commercial production, the requirements of which are outlined in more detail below. By introducing these exemptions, IRCC has acknowledged that positions essential to these industries create significant economic benefits and opportunities for Canadians.

Exemption For Television And Film

LMIA exemption code C14 exempts foreign nationals from the requirement to obtain a LMIA for positions or occupations which are essential to a television or film production. Generally, these positions are high wage and unionized. This exemption applies to television and film production in Canada, regardless of whether the production is foreign or Canadian and whether it is filmed entirely or partly in Canada. Foreign nationals who obtain a work permit under this exemption are exempt from the four-year cumulative duration limit on the length of time they may work in Canada.

Eligibility Requirements

Employers must submit an Offer of Employment and pay a compliance fee of $230.00 CAD to IRCC through its Employer Portal before the foreign national can apply for a work permit. Among other things, the following documents should be provided in support of a work permit application:

  1. A letter of support from the employer confirming that the individual and position are essential to the television or film production and that the production will result in a significant economic benefit to Canada.
  2. A letter of no objection from the relevant union or guild confirming that the work to be performed is subject to a collective agreement and that the union or guild has no objection to the foreign national working in the specified position for the specified company.

Exemption For The Performing Arts

LMIA exemption code C23 exempts foreign nationals from the requirement to obtain a LMIA for those 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. Foreign nationals who obtain a work permit under this exemption are exempt from the four-year cumulative duration limit on the length of time they may work in Canada.

Eligibility Requirements

Employers must submit an Offer of Employment and pay a compliance fee of $230.00 CAD to IRCC through the new Employer Portal before the foreign national can apply for a work permit. Among other things, the following documents should be provided in support of a work permit application:

  1. A letter from the applicable Canadian performing arts representative or service organization that proves reciprocal international opportunities exist for Canadians in that particular discipline.
  2. If applicable, 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.

Business Visitors Entering Canada For Commercial Production

Film producers employed by foreign companies for commercial shoots and essential personnel (e.g. actors, directors, technicians) entering Canada for a foreign-financed commercial or advertisement will be exempt from the LMIA application process under the Business Visitor category. The duration of the stay is limited to a short period of time (typically no longer than two weeks).

Eligibility Requirements

Unlike the exemptions for television and film production and performing arts, the Business Visitor category does not require an application for a work permit. Nevertheless, business visitors should have relevant documents on hand when seeking entry to Canada including letters of support from the business visitor's parent company and a letter of invitation from the Canadian host business.

Electronic Travel Authorization ("eTA")

A visa-exempt foreign national planning to enter Canada by airplane may also be required to apply for an electronic Travel Authorization ("eTA") in advance of their arrival. Additional information on the new eTA requirement was provided in BLG's Business Immigration Alert dated October 23, 2015.

Please note that the new eTA requirement was to commence on March 15, 2016 but a leniency period has recently been introduced until fall 2016. IRCC still expects visa-exempt foreign nationals to have an eTA to fly to or transit through Canada but its website currently states that individuals can board their flight without an eTA, as long as they have appropriate travel documents such as a valid passport and meet any other requirements to enter Canada.