News > Goodbye TFWP; Welcome International Mobility Program

Goodbye TFWP; Welcome International Mobility Program

February 22, 2016 – In December 2015, the Government of Canada announced a new Labour Market Impact Assessment exemption for the performing arts under the International Mobility Program. As of February 17th, this exemption is now available.

Performing Arts Alliance of CanadaThe Government of Canada created a new Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemption category for “key creative personnel and talent associated with the performing arts sector in the disciplines of dance, live theatre, orchestra, and opera.” This exemption is open to foreign nationals hired by performing arts organizations in receipt of Canada Council funding or financial support via parliamentary appropriation. Under these particular conditions, work permit applications will be considered under the International Mobility Program rather than under the Temporary Foreign Workers Program.

This will mean more affordable and faster entrance foreign artists coming to work with a performing arts company. Applicants will no longer have to submit the cumbersome LMIA nor pay the required $1,000 fee. Work permit fees and compliance fees will continue to apply. Applicants will also be required to submit a letter of reciprocity (see full requirements below).

Important note: Presentation engagements are entirely exempt from work permit and LMIA requirements and are consequently not subject to this new exemption. Performing arts companies who would like more information about this exemption or who need a letter of reciprocity should contact their national arts service organization.

This significant policy shift is the result of collective advocacy on the part of the Performing Arts Alliance, the Canadian Federation of Musicians and the Canadian Actors Equity Association, since the overhaul of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program in June 2014. This change also follows a work permit exemption extended to foreign artists performing in bars, at the request of CAPACOA and music industry associations. As a result of these two changes, Canada’s labour regulations are now much more closely aligned with the objectives of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

Summary of foreign workers (and related) regulations

Employment within a production or a company (for example, a guest stage director or choreographer hired in a Canadian production):

  • LMIA exemption [R205(b)] (exemption code C23).
  • Applicant must obtain a work permit.
  • Employer must pay a compliance fee of $230 per work permit.
  • Applicant must submit a letter (or other evidence) that proves reciprocal international opportunities exist for Canadians in that particular discipline. The letter should be provided by the applicable Canadian performing arts representative or service organization (for example, Orchestras Canada or Canadian Dance Assembly).
  • Temporary resident (visitor) visa may be required, depending on the country of origin.
  • Biometrics may be required, depending on the country of origin.
  • Electronic Travel Authorization may be required, depending on the country of origin.
  • Withholding tax requirements apply on fees or salaries paid to non-resident artists.

Time-limited presenting engagements (for example, a foreign music act presented in a Canadian performing arts centre):

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