Canadian work permits for athletes
There are specific requirements for athletes and staff looking to work in Canada.
Work permit rules depend on whether your team is based in Canada or abroad.
Athletes and staff working for a non-Canadian employer
Although foreign athletes and coaches are technically foreign workers, some of the rules and regulations of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) do not apply to them. It would be overly burdensome to subject these individuals to the rules and procedures usually associated with the TFWP, and would prevent Canada from participating in international sporting events.
Therefore, as long these individuals are a member of a foreign-based team or an athlete representing a foreign country, a work permit is generally not required. The same goes for any of the foreign team or athlete’s essential personal and support staff.
Athletes and staff joining a Canadian employer
If a foreign national wants to join a Canada-based sports team or represent Canada as an individual athlete, they usually do need a work permit.
However, even in this scenario, much of the red tape usually associated with acquiring a work permit is removed from the process. This is because such athletes can be exempt from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) requirement, which is usually the most onerous aspect of getting a work permit.
The LMIA is usually necessary to demonstrate that there is a labour shortage and, as a result, the Canadian employer was unable to find a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to fill the position. As such, LMIA applications are scrutinized very closely—even a trivial error can jeopardize the success of these applications.
LMIA-exempt work permits are exempt from demonstrating this labour shortage. Consequently, it is important to ensure athletes are eligible for this type of work permit and have a well-prepared work permit application.
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