Working In Canada As A Temporary Foreign Worker In Film, TV And Music Occupations

CIC News
Published: September 17, 2014

The adjustments made to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) by the Government of Canada in June, 2014 changed the way in which employers make applications to hire international workers. Because of these changes, employers and workers in the film and entertainment industries have had to adjust how they go about hiring temporary foreign workers for projects in Canada.

Canada is an entertainment hub, playing host to a broad range of concerts, shows, sporting events, and more. Behind the scenes, however, lies an often complex legal process for allowing performers and crew the right to work in Canada. Employers and workers therefore ought to be aware of the new system of granting what is known as a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), when a LMIA is required, and when it is not.

The background

Formerly, foreign performing artists hired to perform at a venue whose primary purpose is to sell food and drinks, such as bars and restaurants, required a LMIA before applying for a work permit. Each application for a LMIA cost the employer $275 per person, which was found to deter both employers and international acts from touring or doing work in Canada. Moreover, it was found to create a “black market” whereby international artists would enter Canada as visitors and perform “under the table” (i.e. they would be paid in cash or by cheque and not declare earnings for tax purposes).

LMIA changes that affect workers in film, TV and music occupations

When the Government of Canada made an overhaul to the TFWP in June, 2014, changes specifically designed to improve, simplify and regulate the process for hiring international artists were put in place. One of the central aims of these changes was to provide consistent treatment to foreign artists working in Canada on temporary engagements, regardless of the venue type in which they were performing.

As such, any foreign-based musical and theatrical individuals and groups and their essential crew – including performing artists (i.e. bands and musicians) performing at venues whose primary purpose is to sell food and drinks for time-limited engagements will be eligible for a work permit exemption. This means that a LMIA application, the fee for which has been raised from $275 to $1,000 per worker, is not necessary for the aforementioned cases. Other LMIA-exempt positions include:

  • producers of film, television, video and documentary projects funded entirely from outside Canada;
  • adjudicators at music and dance festivals;
  • performing artists and their essential crew, but only if they are:
    • entering Canada to perform for time-limited engagements;
    • not being hired for ongoing employment by the Canadian group that has contracted them; and
    • not involved in making a movie, television or radio broadcast.

However, a LMIA will still be required for foreign performing artists who are:

  • on the production of film, television or radio broadcast that is funded from inside Canada;
  • not performing in a time-limited engagement; or
  • in an “employment relationship” (for example, a permanent piano bar employee) with the organization or business in Canada that is contracting for their services.

While LMIA applications normally take around three months to process for non-entertainment industries, the Government of Canada allows for expedited processing of LMIA applications made by employers seeking to hire foreign performing artists. The Government aims to have such applications processed within three weeks.

The reaction

The changes in LMIA applications, and their effect on hiring temporary foreign workers in the entertainment industries, have been well received by employers, venues, artists, and immigration professionals alike.

“The Government of Canada has responded to the cries of venue owners, promoters, and artists who had been burdened with red tape and exorbitant costs. All parties are now operating in a much more efficient and cost-effective system,” said Daniel Levy of Campbell Cohen Law Firm. “Canadians love each and every type of popular entertainment, and no government wishes to disappoint them. If a LMIA is required under the new rules, consulting an attorney could be the key for getting the right work permit for the right job.”

To find out if you are eligible to work temporarily in Canada, or to learn more about bringing a foreign worker to Canada, please contact Campbell Cohen today.

© 2014 CICnews All Rights Reserved

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