ARCHIVED – Operational Bulletin 133 – July 17, 2009 (expired)

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Foreign Media Crews

This Operational Bulletin has expired. Please refer to manual FW 1 – Foreign Worker Manual for current information.


This operational bulletin (OB) will clarify a number of issues that have been raised concerning foreign media crews (including writers, print, video, film and broadcast journalists, as well as technicians such as camera operators) who are on tourism promotional tours or are filming documentaries in Canada. In some cases the work of foreign media crews may not be entering the Canadian labour market. This OB outlines the factors for consideration when determining whether a foreign media crew requires a work permit (WP) or a labour market opinion (LMO). There are three possible options: (1) WP exempt; (2) LMO exempt and WP required; and (3) LMO and WP required.

This OB is also to advise officers that there is an upcoming change to the Foreign Worker Manual (FW 1), section 5.10, “Media Crews on Tourism Promotional Tours”, which is outlined in the “LMO exempt under R205(a) – Significant benefit” section of this bulletin.

Factors for consideration

1. Work permit exempt under R186(a) – Business visitor

When dealing with applications from foreign media crews coming to Canada to produce travelogues, documentaries or tourism promotional material, officers are reminded to begin their assessment by reviewing the definition of work. In some cases, foreign media crews on tourism promotional tours may not be entering the Canadian labour market; then the criteria of section 186(a) of the Immigrant and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) might apply.

Foreign media crews should be treated as business visitors if they meet the business visitor guidelines as follows:

  • there must be no intent to enter the Canadian labour market, that is, no gainful employment in Canada;
  • the activity of the foreign worker must be international in scope, that is, there is the presumption of an underlying cross-border commercial activity, e.g. after sales service;
  • there is the presumption of a foreign employer;
  • the primary source of the worker’s remuneration remains outside Canada;
  • the principal place of the worker’s employer is located outside Canada; and
  • the accrual of profits of the worker’s employer is located outside Canada.

When foreign media crew members meet the business visitor criteria, the visa office should put a note in CAIPS/FOSS to advise border service officers that the crew members are eligible under the business visitor criteria.

2. LMO exempt under R205(a) – Significant benefit

Foreign media crews that do not meet the business visitor criteria outlined above will require work permits. As was previously the case, they should be assessed against R205(a)LMO exemption for Canadian interests: Significant benefit (exemption code C10). The requirements listed in FW 1, section 5.10 must also be met.

The requirements for media crews on tourism promotional tours are as follows:

  • for North American media crews: the crews must be taking part in a promotional tour at the invitation of Canada’s federal, provincial or territorial governments, or at the invitation of a municipality or region. The invitation must be presented at the time of application for the WP (in many instances, the letter of invitation will originate from a Canadian mission in the U.S.);
  • for non-North American media crews: the final product must be for distribution in and viewing by non-North American markets and audiences.

Please note that the above information is an amendment to section 5.10 of FW 1. The former restrictions on crew size (3) and the duration of stay (3 weeks for North American and 6 weeks for non-North American media crews) are no longer applicable. There are no longer restrictions on crew size or the duration of stay.

3. LMO and work permit required

Media crews not meeting the above conditions must continue to obtain Human Resources and Skills Development Canada/Service Canada (HRSDC/SC) LMOs and apply for work permits. It is the responsibility of the appropriate sponsoring organization representing the employer (airlines, hoteliers, tourism associations, operators, etc.) to obtain the necessary approval from the local HRSDC/SC office for any job offers.

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