Facilitating the temporary entry/work of foreign artists in Canada
First, supporting the international mobility of artists offers Canadians greater and more diversified access to foreign talent. This exposure allows for learning opportunities, and a deeper understanding and appreciation of global art and cultures. Second, attracting elite talent infuses domestic industries with unique and world-class cultural knowledge, skills, and creativity. This, in turn, stimulates and builds capacity to develop home-grown talent. Third, by reducing barriers to cultural exchanges and forging relationships with other countries and artists, Canada creates reciprocal opportunities for Canadians abroad and enhances its reputation among international artistic communities. Lastly, facilitating foreign artists supports existing public investments in arts and culture, and has the potential to attract high-value work to Canada. An open door policy encourages the creation and maintenance of vibrant and sustainable arts and cultural industries in Canada.
In Canada, foreign artists may be authorized to work without a work permit. Typically, they perform in Canada for a limited period of time, are not being hired for ongoing employment, and are not involved in making a film, television or radio show. They include:
- Musical and theatrical individuals/group and their essential crew;
- Street performers and DJs;
- Guest artists performing with a Canadian performance group for a time-limited engagement;
- Performers at a private event for a time-limited engagement;
- Artists working at or attending a showcase/workshop;
- Visual artists creating or displaying their work;
- Film producers;
- Small groups of film and recording studio renters (not entering the labour market);
- Short-term, essential personnel for a foreign-financed commercial shoot.
The International Mobility Program, whose primary objective is to advance Canada’s broad economic and national interests, is an avenue for facilitation of foreign artists' entry into Canada. The program supports key international agreements and partnerships, such as reciprocal cultural treaties between Canada and countries like Belgium, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Japan and Mexico. Foreign artists entering Canada to take employment under the terms of such treaties require a work permit, but are exempted from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).
Television and film:
Foreign nationals in the television and film industry whose position is essential to a production may be eligible for an LMIA exemption where: the positions are high-wage and unionized; the television or film production meets the criteria to be eligible for government tax credits; and the relevant union/guild has no objections.
Work that is essential to television and film production creates significant economic benefits and opportunities for Canada. This exemption applies to television and film production in Canada, regardless of whether the production is foreign or Canadian and whether it is filmed entirely or partially in Canada.
Creative personnel employed by non-profit dance, opera, orchestra and live theatre organizations may also be eligible for an LMIA exemption where: the organization receives funding from the Canada Council for the Arts or via parliamentary appropriation; and the relevant Canadian performing arts representative or organization demonstrates reciprocity for the discipline.
Facilitating the entry of foreign nationals working in these fields contributes to competitive advantages and reciprocal benefits for all Canadians, including performing artists and performing arts organizations.
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The exemptions under the International Mobility Program are expected to support and enhance public access and investments in arts and culture and/or provide Canadians with similar opportunities abroad. By facilitating the international mobility of artists, both domestic and overseas industries benefit from an exchange of skills, experiences, and perspectives, and Canada continues to attract valuable work and talent. Overall, the measures contribute to Canada’s ability to be an internationally-recognized hub of artistic excellence and cultural innovation.