Operational Bulletin 147 – Original Release August 17, 2009 Update to Sections E, G & H – December 22 and 24, 2009, and January 4, 2010 Update to Section E, F and I – January 21, 2010

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

Work Permit Policies Relating to the 2010 Winter Olympic/Paralympic Games


The 2010 Winter Olympic/Paralympic Games are being hosted by Canada and will take place in Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia (B.C.) from February 12 to 28 and March 12 to 21 respectively.

Given the large volumes of foreign nationals who may be entering Canada to work at the games, selected policy enhancements and clarifications are outlined below to ensure the efficient and consistent processing of applications.

Although these policy changes are being enhanced or clarified to support the processing of applications for the 2010 Games, some guidelines will remain in effect afterwards and are not restricted to 2010 Games applications.


A) Work permit exemption – News reporters

Current policy

Section 186(i) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) provides a work permit (WP) exemption for news reporters coming to Canada for the purpose of reporting on events in Canada. Section 5.10 of the Foreign Worker Manual (FW 1) further stipulates that this exemption does not apply to managerial or clerical staff.

Amended policy

This exemption has been expanded to include managerial and clerical personnel provided that the event is short term (6 months or less).

B) Work permit exemption – Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) secondments

Current policy

R186(a) provides a WP exemption for business visitors to Canada. Section 5.2 of the FW 1 further stipulates that entry is facilitated for those classified as “business visitors” who intend to engage in business or trade activities provided that the following general criteria are met:

  • there is no intent to enter the Canadian labour market;
  • the activity must be international in scope; and
  • the presumption of a foreign employer exists.

Application of the policy for VANOC secondments

Foreign nationals who are under secondment with VANOC are eligible for a WP exemption as “international business visitors” provided that the following conditions are met: 

  • the purpose of the work is not to fulfill a job function for VANOC but to obtain experience so they can apply their knowledge during their own country’s games in the future; and
  • the person is entering Canada on behalf of their foreign employer and will continue being paid by their foreign employer, i.e. no wages or benefits will be paid by VANOC. The only exception is VANOC’s payment of Worker’s Compensation fees as mandated by Work Safe B.C.

C) Work permit policy – Major event unpaid workers


  • According to R2, “work” means an activity for which wages or commission is earned or that is in direct competition with the activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian labour market.
  • A “volunteer” function is one that does not usually receive payment and an “unpaid” function is one that would normally receive payment. Therefore, an unpaid function may require a labour market opinion (LMO) and/or a WP.
  • According to FW 1 section 5.38, a “volunteer” who is not entering the labour market, nor doing an activity which meets the definition of “work”, does not require a WP.

Amended policy

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will be conducting a pilot to evaluate the use of an amended LMO and WP policy for unpaid workers. If eligible, foreign nationals in unpaid occupations at events will be exempt from requiring LMO and WPs. The pilot will run from the present through to March 31, 2010. All eligible foreign nationals must enter Canada before the end of the pilot, March 31, 2010; however the duration of the unpaid work may continue beyond that date.

The policy states that:

  • if Canadians or permanent residents have been engaged by an organizing committee as unpaid workers for a specific occupation, then a foreign national engaged as an unpaid worker for the same occupation will be exempt from an LMO and a WP;
  • if any Canadians, permanent residents or temporary foreign workers (TFWs) have been hired by the organizing committee as paid workers for a specific occupation, then a foreign national engaged as an unpaid worker for the same occupation will require both an LMO and a WP (unless a standard WP exemption under R186 or LMO exemption applies); and
  • if there are no persons hired for a specific occupation and the organizers have proven that the required expertise, skill and/or employment experience is not available in Canada, then a foreign national engaged as an unpaid worker in that occupation will be exempt from an LMO and a WP.

Event eligibility

As part of their submission of a notice of an international event or meeting, event organizers will have an opportunity to request that this policy apply to the unpaid workers they are engaging for their event. If the request is approved, the form will be signed and returned to the organizer and a note will be included in the event notice.

For an event to be eligible for this policy, organizers must satisfy the following criteria:

  • demonstrate that the event relies on a high number of volunteers;
  • demonstrate proof of an effort to recruit Canadians and permanent residents OR that the particular expertise, skill and/or employment experience required is not available in Canada;
  • list all unpaid occupations for which they will have NO paid workers;
  • agree that the organizing committee is responsible for all required licensing/certifications and any resulting liability;
  • confirm that no foreign nationals applying under this policy will impact labour disputes; and
  • confirm that foreign nationals applying under this policy will be filling the occupation for the event period only (as per OB 127, this period is December 12, 2009 to April 21, 2010 for the 2010 Games).

Organizers must provide each applicant with a personalized letter that confirms their status and work function as a volunteer/unpaid worker for the event and that advises the applicant of the immigration process. The letter should bear the letterhead of the organization and the name and signature of the responsible person in the organizing committee. The letter, or a report with the required data on volunteer/unpaid workers, must be copied to CIC.

CIC will confirm that the position being filled is included in the approved certification and will create a non-computer based entry in Field Operations Support System for each applicant. For the duration of this pilot, the Operational Management and Coordination Branch (OMC) will manage this process.

Evaluation of pilot

An evaluation scheme will be developed and implemented to monitor the progress of each major event participating in the pilot.

D) LMO exemption – Sponsor incentive programs

If an event sponsor wishes to employ foreign nationals at an event under a corporate incentive program AND they can prove that Canadians have benefited from the same program in another country, the foreign nationals being employed in Canada may be eligible for a C20 exemption under reciprocal agreements. The employment period is to be no longer than the event.

E) Work permit policy – Crews on cruise ships utilized as accommodation vessels

Due to accommodation shortages, various entities are engaging cruise ships to act as “floating hotels” in and around Vancouver during the Games. This includes the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Canadian Forces (CF) who require accommodations for 5000 personnel and who will ensure national security is maintained.

R186(s) exempts crew members of a cruise ship from requiring an LMO or WP if the vessel is engaged primarily in moving passengers internationally. Generally, this exemption does not apply to vessels acting exclusively as hotels in port meaning that LMOs/WPs are required.

However, TFWs working aboard all vessels required for the success of the 2010 Games, which includes those providing services to VANOC as well as to members of the public coming to view the Games, are exempt from LMO requirements under exemption code C10 as per R205(a) of IRPR. This is separate from the exemptions described below for national security.

Also note: R190(3.1) exempts crew members from requiring a temporary resident visa (TRV). This applies to crews on vessels contracted by the RCMP and other companies providing accommodations but only for those who are entering Canada on the vessel. That is, if the crew member is TRV-required and is entering Canada on another form of transportation, the person must apply for a TRV at an overseas mission.

To date, CIC is aware of the following accommodation vessels and the provisions that apply are as follows:

  • For RCMP/CF: MV Statendam, MS Oosteram, MV Elation (WP Exempt; TRV-exempt if entering on vessel);
  • For VANOC Staff: MV Mona Lisa (LMO-exempt; WP required; TRV-exempt if entering on vessel);
  • Commercial Hotel for the Public: MV Norwegian Star (LMO-exempt; WP required; TRV-exempt if entering on vessel).

F) Work permit exemption – National security accommodations

The RCMP has contracted with two cruise line companies for three vessels to house RCMP and CF personnel before and during the Games. The crew members aboard these vessels are exempt from LMO and WP requirements as per the public policy approved by the Minister of CIC to ensure national security is maintained at the Games.

The 2010 Olympic project teams within CIC and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will ensure that these cruise lines are aware of the CBSA reporting requirements for foreign nationals working on these vessels. Specifically, these foreign nationals must report to the CBSA office in Vancouver upon their first shore leave or ground side duty by presenting their crew card identification as well as a letter of introduction which will be issued by OMC. At this point, the border services officer may seek to confirm that the foreign crew member meets the public policy consideration listed below.

Officers are advised to consider authorizing foreign crew members aboard these accommodation vessels to enter Canada if:

  • the cruise line vessel upon which the foreign national will work is essential in supporting Canadian national security and the public interest because it provides suitable accommodation to RCMP officers and/or CF personnel for the events of the 2010 Games;
  • the foreign national employed aboard the accommodation vessel is either essential to the operation or maintenance of the vessel or essential to the provision of services aboard the vessel; and
  • the foreign national who meets the above criteria also meets conditions (other than those regarding WPs) for entry to Canada as outlined by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and its regulations.

G) Work permit process – Primary workforce fee payment and accommodations

To facilitate processing for the 2010 Games Primary Workforce, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and Service Canada (HRSDC/SC) have developed a Primary Workforce Opinion (PWO) process. The PWO has the same force as an LMO but will only be issued to the Games workforce.

As part of this process, employers will be required to pay for accommodations for low-skilled workers and to assist other temporary foreign workers in finding reasonable and affordable accommodations if they are under the 0, A or B categories of the National Occupational Classification.

The foreign national will present their PWO when applying for their WP.

CIC and CBSA officers are to use regular coding in the system of record to indicate the fee has already been paid when processing the WP.

H) Work permit policy – Hospitality houses

Hospitality houses are set-up by countries, sports teams and sponsors during the games to serve as a social venue for foreign delegations and to educate visitors on the culture, history and general background of their country. These facilities are venues that have been available during all past Olympic and Paralympic games.

Hospitality houses that are affiliated with the governments of their respective countries will be LMO exempt under C10 due to significant cultural, social and economic benefit to Canada or C20 due to reciprocal employment at Canadian hospitality houses in future games hosted by other countries, whichever is deemed most appropriate. This instruction assumes that all applicable exemptions under R186 will still be utilized (for example R186(a) for business visitors), and only speaks to situations where an LMO would previously have been required.

Work permits and fees will still apply where applicable. Normal processing at missions and ports of entry (POE) applies; however, organizers are to be encouraged to apply before arrival at the POE to ensure expedited processing once in Canada.

I) Cultural Olympiad and visual artists

Cultural Olympiad is an event that will take place during the games-time period to showcase visual and performing artists around the globe. Performances will take place from January 22 to March 21, 2010. Generally speaking, artists and their essential technical production staff will be eligible for a work permit exemption for performing artists under R186(g). Those that are applying for a visa at an overseas mission or at a Canadian POE are expected to present a performance contract and letter of invitation from VANOC.

In addition, outside of the Cultural Olympiad, the same exemption can be considered for other visual artists who will be developing exhibitions for a showcase.

IMPORTANT: Officers are reminded of the importance of entering the Special Event Code in the system of record. This code is used to track cases related to events. This is especially important for the 2010 Games as virtual WPs will be issued. Without the code, TFWs will not be included in the facilitated process which has been developed for obtaining Social Insurance Numbers.

As a reminder, the codes are 10VOLY for the Olympics and 10VPAR for the Paralympics.

Additional Information

If you have any further questions, please contact 2010Games-Jeux@cic.gc.ca.

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