Tips for Entertainers: Foreign Performers and Work Permits

by Beth Rifkin

2 min read

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act authorizes foreigners to work in Canada. Most foreigners need to obtain a work permit, but there are exceptions for certain groups of foreign performers. If you are an performer who wishes to work in Canada as an independent contractor, you must meet certain eligibility requirements, such as not having a criminal record and being able to support yourself, and obtaining a work permit if it’s required. Employers who wish to hire foreign workers must apply for and obtain a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment stating that there is a need for the foreign worker and that no Canadian can fill this need.

Performers Exempt from LMIA and Work Permit Requirements

To encourage cultural exchange and honour agreements with nations that waive work permit requirements for Canadian performers working abroad, the International Mobility Program waives the work permit requirement for certain groups of foreign performers. You don’t need an LMIA or work permit if you’re performing in an air show, as a rodeo contestant, or as a street performer. The Citizenship and Immigration Canada website has a detailed list of the types of performers who are exempt from work permit requirements.

Performers Subject to LMIA and Work Permit Requirements

Certain groups of performers must obtain work permits. If you’re an actor, musician, dancer, other performer, or member of a production crew associated with a Canadian-based theatrical, television, film, radio or internet production, circus, or show, you need a work permit. You also need one to work as a rodeo performer, announcer, or sideshow act, such as a rodeo clown or trick rider, or if you enter into an employment relationship with a Canadian-based business or organization. The government considers you to have an employment relationship when you sign a work contract that calls for you to perform on a regular basis.

Obtaining a Work Permit

To obtain a work permit, you may apply online or submit a paper application to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. You must obtain a copy of the positive LMIA and a detailed job offer from your prospective employer, and submit this documentation with your application and applicable fee. If you’re from certain countries and are under the age of 35, you may apply for a holiday work visa that allows you to live and work in Canada for 12 to 24 months through International Experience Canada.Under the International Mobility Program, certain groups of foreign performers may work in Canada without a work permit. These generally include performers associated with foreign-based theatrical productions and shows such as circuses and those performing in Canada for a limited engagement, usually interpreted as five days or less. The government requires several other groups of performers to obtain work permits. These include actors, musicians and performers associated with Canadian-based theatrical, film, radio, and television productions or those entering into employment relationships with Canadian-based organizations and corporations.

References & Resources

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