Business Visitors in the Entertainment Industry

Last updated: 28 August 2020

In certain cases, individuals seeking entry to Canada to work in the entertainment industry can qualify as business visitors.

This refers to a category of foreign nationals intending to work in Canada who, due to the nature and/or duration of the work to be performed in Canada, do not require a work permit. Because a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is only necessary as a prerequisite for a work permit application — and because a work permit may not be needed — eligible individuals are therefore exempt also from the LMIA requirement, typically the most burdensome aspect of obtaining the right to work in Canada.

Canada Business Visitors Visa for the Entertainment Industry

There are typically three categories of individuals working in the entertainment industry who can receive consideration as business visitors:

  • Film producers who are entering Canada to work on a movie, TV show, or documentary which must be a foreign-financed production. Collaborations between foreign production companies and Canadian entities do not constitute such a production as the project must be entirely funded from abroad. In order to avoid issues upon entry, it is essential for foreign film crews entering Canada to be intimately familiar with the details of who is providing financial support for the production.
  • Essential personnel who are entering Canada to work on a foreign-financed commercial shoot. These workers must be entering Canada for short durations, usually no longer than two weeks. Consideration as to what constitutes “essential personnel” is made on a case-by-case basis and depends largely upon what evidence is provided by the production company.
  • Performing artists who are performing at a show, concert or festival, or may even be appearing in a guest spot on a television series or a film that is being filmed in Canada. Whatever the venue, as long as their reason for entering Canada constitutes a time-limited engagement, they can most likely receive consideration as business visitors. It is only in cases of recurring, regular performances that the need to procure work authorization arises.

The problem with these categories of business visitors, and other facilitated working options with respect to Canada, rests with the discretion of the individual deciding whether or not to grant entry. If an Immigration officer is not familiar with exceptional working situations and the criteria to qualify as a business visitor, they may deny an individual entry into Canada. In order to avoid a refusal, it is prudent to check with an experienced immigration attorney before attempting to enter Canada as a business visitor.

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