International Mobility Program: Canadian interests – Reciprocal employment – Performing arts – [R205(b)] (exemption code C23)

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

The entry of foreign nationals working in dance (such as ballet or contemporary), opera, orchestra or live theatre contributes to competitive advantages and reciprocal benefits for all Canadians, including Canadian performing artists and performing arts organizations.

Key creative personnel and talent associated with Canadian, non-profit performing arts companies and organizations in the orchestral music, opera, live theatre and dance disciplines may be eligible for an exemption from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) requirement, under paragraph 205(b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR).

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Eligibility requirements

Officers may apply the LMIA exemption code C23 to work permit applications, including renewals, if they are satisfied that reciprocal employment opportunities exist for Canadians and permanent residents. Evidence of reciprocal employment opportunities may include either of the following:

  • an offer of employment submitted by the employer (that is, the performing arts company or organization), per section R209.11, that clearly indicates
    • the applicant’s job offer (job title and main duties) is in the dance, opera, orchestra or live theatre discipline of the arts
    • the employer is a current recipient of core or composite funding from the Canada Council for the Arts or of financial support via parliamentary appropriation, such as the National Arts Centre
  • a letter or other evidence submitted by the applicant that has been provided by the applicable Canadian performing arts representative or service organization and that proves reciprocal international opportunities exist for Canadians in that particular discipline, such as the following:
    • contemporary dancers
    • ballet choreographers
    • opera singers
    • actors in theatrical productions
    • orchestral musicians

This letter should generally include the following specifications:

  • the organization’s mandate, including information on who is eligible for membership
  • the discipline in question (dance, live theatre, orchestra or opera) and the types of work (for example, dancer or choreographer) for which the organization can affirm reciprocity
  • a statement affirming that reciprocity has been known to exist over the past year, including details on how the organization is able to affirm reciprocity
  • the signature of a senior representative of the organization able to affirm reciprocity
  • the date of signature

Note: Since April 1, 2017, the Canada Council for the Arts uses the terms “core” and “composite” funding. Prior to that date, the term “annual or multi-year operational funding support” was used. A letter or other proof from the performing arts organization that references any of these terms may be accepted.

If applicable, the applicant may, to support their work permit application, also provide a copy of a formal agreement between a Canadian performing arts organization and an international performing arts organization that stipulates the employment of particular workers who possess intellectual property related to the production (such as choreography, lighting or set design, or direction).

For applications submitted online, the letter proving reciprocity and any additional documents may be uploaded under “Letter of Explanation”.

Further information on reciprocity letters

Many organizations are aware of the specific opportunities abroad that were available to their members in a given year, as well as how many Canadians went abroad to work and how many foreign workers were hired. The reciprocity does not need to be one for one (for example, 10 Canadian ballet dancers had opportunities in Europe in 1 year, while 10 foreign worker ballet dancers were hired by Canadian ballet companies).

However, officers must be satisfied that there are similar opportunities available to both Canadians and foreign workers. The reciprocity affirmed by the organization may be over a period of 1 year.

For some disciplines and occupations, there may be multiple representative or service organizations able to affirm reciprocity. It is anticipated that the following organizations may provide letters of reciprocity to work permit applicants:

  • Dance: Canadian Dance Assembly, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), Canadian Actors’ Equity Association, Regroupement québécois de la danse
  • Orchestral music: Orchestras Canada, Canadian Federation of Musicians
  • Theatre: IATSE, Canadian Actors’ Equity Association, The Professional Association of Canadian Theatres
  • Opera:, Canadian Actors’ Equity Association

Other LMIA or work permit exemptions for consideration

Depending on the nature of the work to be performed and how the production is funded, applicants may be eligible for other LMIA or work permit exemptions. The following is a list of examples:

Work permit issuance in the Global Case Management System

When the applicant selects the work permit type “Exemption from Labour Market Impact Assessment” on the application, the “Case Type” field is set automatically in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) as “52”.

When the offer is correctly matched with the work permit application, GCMS will automatically both allocate the compliance fee and populate the following fields:

  • “LMIA exemption code”
  • “Employer name”
  • “Occupation title”
  • “NOC code”

Officers can review the information in the “Employment Details – LMIA Exempt” tab on the “Case” screen and confirm that it is fully and accurately complete [R209.11]. Officers can also review the “Fees” tab to confirm that the employer compliance fee (if applicable) has been paid.

Based on fields in the offer of employment, officers should enter the following under the “Application” screen:

  • “Province of Destination”: address of physical job location (if there is more than one location, officers should enter the primary location in the “Province of Destination” field and the secondary location in the “Remarks” field)
  • “City of Destination”: address of physical job location (if there is more than one location, officers should enter the primary location in the “City of Destination” field and the secondary location in the “Remarks” field)
  • “Salary”: amount per year as indicated wage in Canadian dollars and number of work hours
  • “Employer”: business operating name
  • “Duration”: the duration of the intended employment, per the offer of employment, or until the expiry of the travel document, whichever comes first (if there is no end date to the duration of the intended employment, officers may issue a work permit that is valid for up to 2 years or until the expiry of the travel document, whichever comes first)

Note: The employer is subject to regulatory imposed conditions, based on the information provided in the offer of employment. Therefore, any corrections to the information in the form must come from the employer.

Specifically, if the employer has made an error in the offer of employment, officers should not correct the information in GCMS. Instead, they may do either of the following:

  • Refuse the application, based on the foreign national not meeting the eligibility requirements, if applicable
  • Contact the employer and instruct them to submit a new offer of employment

An LMIA exemption code or passport number may be changed by processing officers.

Learn more

For more information on work permit issuance, see the following Web pages:

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