The Government of Canada announced that entry for foreign nationals in the performing arts industry will now be made easier as a new list of occupations in that industry may now be issued Labour Market Impact Assessment exempt work permits.
Canadian employers who wish to hire a foreign worker in most cases need to prove that there is a need for a foreign worker to fill a job vacancy and that no Canadian citizen or permanent resident is available to perform the duties of the job. This process is documented with a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
However, Canada recognizes the importance of hiring of foreign workers to create and maintain significant economic benefits and opportunities for Canadians and permanent residents.
In this case, the hiring of foreign workers in the performing arts industry is considered to be an advantageous opportunity for Canada and results in reciprocal benefits for all Canadians, including performing artists and organizations in that industry.
The occupations in the performing arts industry, which may eligible for an LMIA-exempt work permit, include:
- Dance (such as ballet or contemporary)
- Live theatre
In order to initiate the process, the employer must submit an Offer of Employment through the Employer Portal before a work permit application is submitted.
The Employer Portal is an online application management system that helps facilitate the hiring process of LMIA-exempt foreign workers by Canadian employers.
A key feature of LMIA exemption in the case of foreign workers in the performing arts industry is proven evidence of reciprocal employment.
A reciprocal agreement enables foreign workers to work in Canada when Canadians or permanent residents have similar work opportunities abroad.
Eligibility requirements for LMIA exemption of performing artists
For immigration officers to apply the LMIA exemption to a work permit, they need to be convinced that reciprocal employment opportunities exist for Canadian and permanent residence in the performing arts industry.
The following documents will be required to prove the possibility of reciprocal work opportunities:
- a. an offer of employment submitted by the employer (that is, the performing arts company or organization), per section R209.11, that clearly indicates
- the applicant’s job offer (job title and main duties) is in the dance, opera, orchestra or live theatre discipline of the arts
- the employer is a current recipient of core or composite funding from the Canada Council for the Arts or of financial support via parliamentary appropriation, such as the National Arts Centre
- b. a letter or other evidence submitted by the applicant that has been provided by the applicable Canadian performing arts representative or service organization and that proves reciprocal international opportunities exist for Canadians in that particular discipline, such as the following:
- contemporary dancers
- ballet choreographers
- opera singers
- actors in theatrical productions
- orchestral musicians
The reciprocity letter needs to include the following details:
- the organization’s mandate, including information on who is eligible for membership
- the discipline in question (dance, live theatre, orchestra or opera) and the types of work (for example, dancer or choreographer) for which the organization can affirm reciprocity
- a statement affirming that reciprocity has been known to exist over the past year, including details on how the organization is able to affirm reciprocity
- the signature of a senior representative of the organization able to affirm reciprocity
- the date of signature
An interesting feature worth noting is that reciprocity does not need to be one for one. For example, 10 Canadian ballet dancers had opportunities in Europe in one year, while 10 foreign worker ballet dancers were hired by Canadian ballet companies.
Additionally, multiple representatives may affirm reciprocity. The following organizations may provide letters of reciprocity:
- Dance: Canadian Dance Assembly, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), Canadian Actors’ Equity Association, Regroupement québécois de la danse
- Orchestral music: Orchestras Canada, Canadian Federation of Musicians
- Theatre: IATSE, Canadian Actors’ Equity Association, The Professional Association of Canadian Theatres
- Opera: Opera.ca, Canadian Actors’ Equity Association
For more information on LMIA exemptions, please visit our dedicated page.
Benefits of LMIA exemptions
Traveling abroad benefits Canada’s economy by helping Canadian workers gain experience aboard and expand on the local industry.
In its Budget 2018 plan, the Government of Canada pledges to provide $194.1 million between 2018 and 2019 to the advancement of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the International Mobility Program, two of Canada’s temporary foreign worker programs.