International Mobility Program (IMP): Canadian interests - Reciprocal employment general guidelines R205(b), C20

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

R205(b) allows foreign workers to take up employment in Canada when Canadians have similar reciprocal opportunities abroad. Entry under reciprocal provisions should result in a neutral labour market impact.

There are formally-recognized reciprocal programs such as International Experience Canada program (See International Experience Canada ). However this provision also allows for admission of workers in other cases where reciprocity is demonstrated by the Canadian employer (or specific program administrator). Academic institutions may initiate exchanges under C20 as long as they are reciprocal, and licensing and medical requirements (if applicable) are met.

The onus is on the institutions and/or applicants to demonstrate that reciprocity exists

This could be indicated in the exchange agreement between the Canadian and foreign parties, a letter from the receiving Canadian institution, the work contract (if it provides evidence of reciprocity) and, if necessary, the officer can request documents and/or data to enable verification of reciprocal employment volumes. Bona fide evidence of reciprocity will allow the officer to issue a work permit.

TIP: A useful starting point can be a company’s HR Plan or its  “Global Mobility Policy “ within their HR directives, which may provide evidence that an exchange program is in place and, depending on the balance of bilateral flow, may indicate that it is reciprocal in practice.

It is not necessary that there be exact reciprocity (i.e. one for one exchange), but the general order of magnitude of exchanges should be reasonably similar on an annual basis. In assessing reciprocity, one would consider the relative number and percentage. For example, for exchanges involving larger numbers of foreign nationals (e.g. greater than 25), officers could require a higher minimum proportion of Canadians employed abroad to foreign nationals employed in Canada (e.g. at least 75%) than for smaller exchanges.

When the entities involved have no history of conducting reciprocal exchanges with Canada, it is reasonable to initially limit work permits to a small number of individuals and that subsequent work permits be issued only when reciprocity has been demonstrated. When organizations have a demonstrated history of reciprocal exchanges, they may be permitted some flexibility in the flow of exchange on an annual basis, as long as they are able to demonstrate that the exchanges are similar over a reasonable period of time (e.g. five years), there is a general neutral impact on the labour market.

In assessing reciprocity, officers can consider not only the number of individuals working in Canada and abroad, but also employment duration and job level.

If evidence of reciprocity is not presented to the satisfaction of the officer, the work permit may be refused, or the applicant may be notified that an LMO must be obtained for further consideration of a work permit.

Other examples of C20

Professional and semi-professional coaches and athletes working for Canadian-based teams

Full or part-time paid coaches and trainers, and professional or semi-professional athletes working for Canadian-based teams require work permits. Given the international mobility in this field, they may be eligible for exemption from an LMO pursuant to R205(b), C20, if they can prove that reciprocity exists for the particular occupation in their home country.

A full-time coach is a worker who earns significant income from coaching - enough to support themselves. A part-time coach earns a significant portion towards supporting themselves in Canada.

Professional Canadian teams, for which foreign athletes would require a work permit, include, but are not limited to, those in:

  • the National and American Hockey Leagues,
  • the Canadian Football League,
  • Major League Baseball and its affiliates at the A, AA and AAA levels,
  • the National Basketball Association,
  • the Canadian Soccer League as well as
  • the Major League Soccer league.

Canada World Youth Program

This is an international exchange involving young people from a number of foreign countries whose brief living and working experience in Canada provides them and their Canadian hosts with a better appreciation of different cultures. Participants normally spend from 89 to 110 days in Canada and “work” full-time for the entire period at a variety of jobs, including farm work and social/community services, e.g., schools institutions, for the aged and handicapped. The “work” performed is strictly voluntary.

Participants will receive open unrestricted work permits (fee exempt). For this reason, they must have a medical examination.

Supporting documentation: a letter from Canada World Youth.

Cultural agreements

Persons entering Canada to take employment under the terms of cultural agreements between Canada and the following countries: Belgium, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Japan and Mexico. Fee exempt.

  • Cultural agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of France
    Allows for temporary employment under the cultural agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of France, or under the terms of any educational, cultural, scientific, technical or artistic agreement made between France and a province of Canada within the framework of that agreement, provided that the applicants present to the officer a letter of acceptance by the appropriate governing body. Fee exempt.
    Supporting documentation: letter from the appropriate governing body.
  • Cultural exchange between the Government of Canada and the People’s Republic of China
    Under the terms of the cultural exchange program relating to the arts, archives, libraries, journalism, radio, television, film, literature, translation, architecture, social sciences and sports. Fee exempt.

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