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Changes to Canadian Work Permit Categories for Television/Film and Performing Arts

The Canadian Department of Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) has announced two new Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exempt work permit categories for foreign nationals working in television and film or the performing arts.

Starting on February 17, 2016, the two new LMIA exemption categories will allow for certain foreign nationals to apply for a work permit without first having to apply to the Temporary Foreign Worker program for an LMIA. These work permit categories will now be governed under the International Mobility Program.

Television and Film (C14 Exemption – Significant Benefit)

Foreign nationals working in the TV and Film industry who hold positions that are essential to a TV or film production may be eligible to apply for a work permit directly at the port of entry (for TRV exempt nationals) or to a Canadian visa office abroad without first obtaining an LMIA. This new exemption will allow Canada to continue to attract high value TV and film productions to Canada, creating significant economic benefits and opportunities for Canadians. This exemption will apply to both Canadian productions and foreign productions.

To qualify, the positions must be considered to be “high wage” and are often unionized. In British Columbia a high wage position is considered to be an amount above $22.00 /hour and in Ontario, high wage is an amount over $21.15. See all provincial wage thresholds at: http://www.esdc.gc.ca/en/foreign_workers/hire/median_wage/index.page

Employers will be required to file an “Offer of Employment for LMIA Exempt Work Permits” with IRCC and pay a compliance fee of $230 before the work permit application is made. The Offer of Employment must be filed in advance and proof of filing will be required for the foreign national to make their work permit application.

To support the work permit application, the production must provide a support letter outlining some general information in relation to the production, a statement that the foreign worker and the position to be held by the foreign worker is essential to the production, and details on the economic benefit of the production to Canada (including the number of Canadians created by the production, the estimate budget to be spent in Canada and a statement confirming that the production satisfies the criteria for federal or provincial tax credits or is the recipient of federal or provincial funding). The production must also provide a letter of support from the applicable union.

For further details, please see: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/tools/temp/work/opinion/imp-c14.asp

Performing Arts (C23 – Reciprocal Employment)

Foreign nationals working as key creative personnel and talent associated with non-profit performing arts organizations involved in theater, opera, orchestras, and dance may be eligible for this LMIA exempt work permit. This new exemption will allow for foreign nationals to apply for work permits in the performing arts if they can demonstrate reciprocal opportunities for Canadians outside of Canada in the same discipline. A one to one ratio of reciprocity does not have to be proven, rather a general statement affirming that reciprocity has been known to exist with an explanation of how the organization plans to allow for opportunities for Canadians outside of Canada.

Employers will be required to file an “Offer of Employment for LMIA Exempt Work Permits” with IRCC and pay a compliance fee of $230 before the work permit application is made. The Offer of Employment must be filed in advance and proof of filing will be required for the foreign national to make their work permit application.

To support the work permit application, the performing arts organization will be required to provide a support letter outlining the reciprocity for Canadians abroad in the specific discipline, a copy of the job offer to the foreign national, and confirmation of the organization’s funding support from the Canadian government or applicable parliamentary council for the arts.

For further details on the performing arts LMIA exemption and reciprocity letters, please see: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/tools/temp/work/opinion/imp-c23.asp

Foreign Funded Commercials Filmed in Canada – Business Visitor

Another change that IRCC announced this week applies to essential personnel (including producers, directors, actors, technicians, etc.) entering Canada to shoot a foreign funded commercial or advertisement in Canada. This exemption falls under the Business Visitor category and therefore does not require an application for a work permit. The entry as a Business Visitor for filming commercials (or print advertising) is limited for entry to Canada for a very short duration (under 2 weeks).

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Changes to Canadian Work Permit Categories for Television/Film and Performing Arts

LMIA Exempt Work Permit Applications – New Procedure

Effective February 21, 2015, there will be changes to the work permit application process for categories that are currently exempt from obtaining a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and employer specific. The changes follow amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations focused on employer compliance in the employment of foreign workers.

As a result of the regulatory amendments, most work permit applications will now require a 2 step process:

Step 1. Either an LMIA application to Service Canada OR a new procedure involving an application form to be submitted to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) for LMIA exempt categories (Form IMM 5802 – Offer of Employment to a Labour Market Impact Assessment Exempt Foreign National) with an additional $230 employer compliance fee.

Step 2. Work permit application.

This new procedure is applicable to all LMIA exempt work permits that are employer specific including work permit extension applications, visa office applications, port of entry applications. The new procedure will apply to most LMIA exempt work permit applications including work permits under NAFTA, intra-company transfers, PNPs, signficant benefit, etc. (Note: step 1 is not required for open work permit applicants, however, open work permits will be subject to an additional $100 privilege fee).

The new IMM 5802 Form and online fee payment (through their current CIC online fee payment site) will be available on Wednesday, February 18, 2015. The new form will require general corporate information about the employer (including contact information), the terms of the offer, information supporting the LMIA exemption and an attestation by the employer on the terms of the offer of employment.

Third party representatives will be able to submit the IMM 5802 Form for employers as long as the employer contact has signed a Use of Rep form (IMM 5476). The process requires that the IMM 5802 be completed by employers and submitted with the $230 payment to CIC.

Once the IMM 5802 Form is submitted to CIC, a confirmation will be generated by CIC. This confirmation along with a copy of the IMM 5802 Form and the $230 fee payment must be provided to the foreign worker to make an application for a work permit (i.e. at the visa office, online or at POE etc.)

There is not an advance “adjudication process” for the IMM 5802 Form before the work permit application is processed. For example, although proof that the IMM 5802 Form was submitted is required for an applicant to apply for a work permit at the POE, it was indicated that this could be done 5 minutes prior to arriving at the port of entry, as long as the applicant had a copy of the submitted IMM 5802 Form and payment confirmation with their work permit application.

There will also be a process for receiving a refund of the $230 employer compliance fee (and $100 privilege fee) if a work permit application is refused

More information will be posted by CIC this week and the link to the CIC site can be found at: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/tools/temp/work/admissibility/specific.asp

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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LMIA Exempt Work Permit Applications – New Procedure

Canadian Government Revamps the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

With the government’s focus on “Canadians First” for Canadian jobs, the requirements to hire temporary foreign workers were revamped to make the hiring of foreign workers, and in particular low skilled / low wage foreign workers, more difficult for employers.

For employers that utitlize labour market opinions (now known as labour market impact assessmentsLMIA), one of the biggest changes is the increased application fee that is now $1000 per position (up from $275) with the potential of an additional $100 “privilege fee” to be added. For those employers wishing to employ “high skilled / high wage” foreign workers, a Transition Plan will need to be submitted with LMIA applications. For those employers wishing to hire “low skilled/ low wage” foreign workers, the ability to hire foreign workers will be tied to the unemployment rate in the region they wish to hire the foreign workers and there will be caps placed on the number of such applications an employer can request. The duration of LMIAs issued for such workers in Canada will also decrease to one year increments.

For employers that utilize the LMIA exempt work permit categories (now known as International Mobility Program) including work permits under international agreements such as NAFTA or GATS, there will be additional application fees that will take effect in the summer of 2015. These include the Employer Compliance fee of $230 for employer specific work permits and $100 privilege fee for open work permits. There will also be a requirement for employers to submit these job offers directly to Citizienship and Immigration Canada (CIC), however, the logistics of this requirement are still not known for those foreign workers eligible to apply at the port of entry. The provincial agreements with the Canadian government which have allowed for specific positions in certain provinces to be LMIA exempt will also be phased out and/or reassessed early next year.

The government will ensure employer compliance to the foreign worker programs with frequent audits and investigations by Service Canada (ESDC), CIC and Canada Border Services Agency and the government will heavily sanction employers found to be abusing the system.

Although more specific details will be provided in the coming weeks on the practical implications of the programs, a detailed summary of the changes can be found on the Government of Canada’s website at: http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=859859&_ga=1.156784699.1455899918.1369168661

Stay tuned for more details to come…

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Canadian Government Revamps the Temporary Foreign Worker Program