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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

US executive action promises important new immigration benefits for some


President Obama Speaks On Homeland Security's Announcement About Deportations

US President Obama announced on November 20, 2014 a series of executive actions to crack down on illegal immigration at the border, prioritize deporting felons not families, and require certain undocumented immigrants to pass a criminal background check and pay taxes in order to temporarily stay in the US without fear of deportation.  The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services agency (USCIS) announced that it is not yet accepting any applications for benefits under this program, stating that “[s]ome initiatives will be implemented over the next several months and some will take longer.”

Among the President’s initiatives is a plan to modernize, improve and clarify immigrant and nonimmigrant programs to grow our economy and create jobs.  This is intended to primarily benefit US businesses, foreign investors, researchers, inventors and skilled foreign workers.

The USCIS states that it will implement this initiative as follows:

  • Work with the Department of State to develop a method to allocate immigrant visas to ensure that all immigrant visas authorized by Congress are issued to eligible individuals when there is sufficient demand for such visas.
  • Work with the Department of State to modify the Visa Bulletin system to more simply and reliably make determinations of visa availability.
  • Provide clarity on adjustment portability to remove unnecessary restrictions on natural career progression and general job mobility to provide relief to workers facing lengthy adjustment delays.
  • Clarify the standard by which a national interest waiver may be granted to foreign inventors, researchers and founders of start-up enterprises to benefit the US economy.
  • Authorize parole, on a case-by-case basis, to eligible inventors, researchers and founders of start-up enterprises who may not yet qualify for a national interest waiver, but who:
    • Have been awarded substantial US investor financing; or
    • Otherwise hold the promise of innovation and job creation through the development of new technologies or the pursuit of cutting-edge research.
    • Finalize a rule to provide work authorization to the spouses of certain H-1B visa holders who are on the path to lawful permanent resident status.
    • Work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to develop regulations for notice and comment to expand and extend the use of optional practical training (OPT) for foreign students, consistent with existing law.
    • Provide clear, consolidated guidance on the meaning of “specialized knowledge” to bring greater clarity and integrity to the L-1B program, improve consistency in adjudications, and enhance companies’ confidence in the program.

There is an additional, well publicized initiative to provide temporary legal status to certain individuals who have been in the US unlawfully for a continuous period of more than 5 years, if they are the parent of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident.  More details on all of the initiatives can be found at the USCIS web site.

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US executive action promises important new immigration benefits for some

UK Electronic Visa Waiver Introduced for Oman, Qatar and the UAE

Welcome to Britain

The application process for nationals of Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to visit the UK for up to six months has been simplified.

From 1 January 2014 these nationals will simply need an electronic visa waiver (EVW) completed at least 48 hours before the intended time of travel to the UK.

An EVW form can be completed free online up to three months before the intended travel date.  There is no need for individuals to provide biometric information, attend a visa application centre, or submit passports before travel.  Individuals need only complete details online of their departure to the UK and their departure from the UK. They must then print their EVW form and present it at their departure port and on arrival in the UK, with their passport.  The EVW document will replace the need to complete a landing card on arrival.

For frequent visitors to the UK or those with concerns over their immigration history, it may be more appropriate to apply for a visit visa before travelling.  Visit visas are available for durations of up to 10 years.

As far as we are aware there is no plan to roll out the EVW to other visa nationals.

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UK Electronic Visa Waiver Introduced for Oman, Qatar and the UAE

Canada Immigration

Service Canada

On the eve to the New Year, regulatory amendments and ministerial instructions were announced regarding changes affecting the temporary foreign worker program. In particular, new conditions are being placed on employers who apply to Service Canada for Labour Market Opinions (LMOs) in support of work permits for their foreign workers. In addition to the revised application form published and effective December 31, 2013, employers will be subject to a condition that they keep all records in relation to each LMO application submitted, and all information in the context of each LMO application, for a period of 6 years (increased from 2 years).

Service Canada will have the authority to conduct inspections to verify the employer’s compliance with conditions set out in LMO approval letters and may order employers to provide documents, conduct on-site inspections without a warrant, and interview foreign workers or Canadian employers to ensure compliance with terms of employment. Employers will also be subject to employer compliance reviews in relation to a new LMO assessment for a period going back 6 years, as opposed to 2 years.

The new ministerial instructions will provide Service Canada with the power to suspend or revoke LMOs as well as the ability to refuse to process further LMO applications. Employers found to be non-compliant will be ineligible to hire foreign workers for 2 years and their ineligibility will be published on a public ban list. Such employers will also be issued refusal letters on any pending LMO applications and may have previous LMO approvals revoked.

Employer compliance with the terms of LMOs has become more important than ever, as well as the requirement for employers to keep organized and accurate documentation with respect to each foreign worker. If you have any questions regarding the changes to the LMO process or foreign worker applications in general, please contact us.

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Canada Immigration

Global Mobility Effectiveness Survey

Ernst & Young released their 2013 report on the increasingly critical role of global mobility functions at multinational firms.  The report discusses the importance of compliance control to manage risks related to payroll tax and social security compliance, with 64% of companies reporting they incurred avoidable penalties for noncompliance and only 30% reporting they have a system in place to track business travelers.

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Global Mobility Effectiveness Survey