Canadian work permits for events hosted by foreign organizations
If you are planning on hosting an event in Canada this year, Canada offers facilitated work permit options to foreign event organizers. A lawyer can help you enter as a business visitor. They can also help you obtain an LMIA-exempt work permit.
If you are a conference delegate, or administrative support staff, you are considered to be a business visitor. You do not require a work permit because you are not entering the Canadian labour market.
Work permits are generally required for people who are coming to Canada to work. Canada has two streams of work permits: Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and the International Mobility Program (IMP). The main difference is the requirement for what is called a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
The LMIA basically signals to the Canadian government that there is no Canadian resident who is available or qualified to do the job. It is meant to demonstrate that there will be no negative consequences to the Canadian labour market if the foreign national comes to do their job. IMP work permits do not require an LMIA, because they have been determined to offer a “significant benefit” to Canada’s economic, social, or cultural objectives.
Here we focus on when you need a work permit and when you do not.
No work permit required
Organizers and administrative support staff
Organizers and administrative support staff of the organizing committee are considered business visitors and do not need a work permit, provided the event is being put on by a foreign organization.
Event planners for foreign organizations
You do not require a work permit if you are working under contract for a foreign organization, if your job description matches one of the following:
- event planner;
- exhibit manager;
- professional conference organizer;
- destination marketing company personnel; or
- event accommodation consultant.
Work permits required, no LMIA
Setting up display
Company employees will require work permits to install and dismantle a booth or display if it is larger than a portable pop-up. These work permits do not require an LMIA.
Contract Service Providers
Contract foreign service providers need a work permit if they are involved in activities such as:
- the installation and dismantling of a show or exhibit;
- audio video, staging, or show decorating services; and
- lighting, carpet laying, carpentry, or electrical work..
Foreign service providers who are supervisory personnel working under contract for foreign events also require work permits. Work permits for this purpose do not require an LMIA, as long as the supervisors will be directing local hires.
The government expects exhibitors to hire Canadians to do all the labour on the convention floor.
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