Residential summer camp counsellors [R205(b) – C20] – Canadian interests - International Mobility Program
This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.
In these instructions “officer” refers to employees of both Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and the Canada Border Service Agency.
The instructions on this page should be reviewed in conjunction with
- Employer-specific work permits with Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemptions
- Conditions and validity period on work permits
- Public list of employers who have been non-compliant
Foreign camp counsellors working at seasonal residential camps during the summer (June to September) may be exempt from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) requirement pursuant to paragraph 205(b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR).
Given the existence of global opportunities for Canadians to work as camp counsellors in various countries around the world, proof of reciprocity is not required for individual applications meeting these eligibility requirements.
Note: The eligibility of camp counsellors under the reciprocity LMIA exemption (exemption code C20) is specific to seasonal (summer) residential camps, as there is a demonstrable and established international reciprocity for this type of time-limited situation. If the seasonal (summer) residential camp counsellor opportunity turns into a year-round one, or if the camp counsellor opportunity is for a day camp (non-residential), then a LMIA is required, unless the foreign national or employer provides documentary evidence that satisfies an officer that there is a reciprocal opportunity for a Canadian camp counsellor.
For applicant instructions, consult Overnight camp counsellors: How to apply for a work permit.
On this page
- Documentary evidence
- Immigration medical examination
- Authorized period of stay versus work permit period
- Port of entry application process
- Work permit issuance in GCMS
- Camp counsellor in training
To be eligible for the reciprocity exemption, the foreign national must have an offer of employment that is for
- seasonal (summer) employment, normally June through September
- the occupation Camp Counsellor or a similar job title (National Occupational Classification [NOC] 5254) and
- a residential camp
The following situations are not eligible under the reciprocity exemption given the lack of reciprocal employment opportunities for Canadian citizens or permanent residents in other countries:
- day camps
- camps running only after school, weekend programs or school break programs
- employment where the majority of the employment period is outside of the summer months
The reciprocity with other countries is for short-term seasonal work. The majority of overnight camps typically only run through the summer months (June through September), given that their clientele and employees are students who return to school in early fall. Offers of employment outside of the summer months for residential camps or for day-only camps may not meet the reciprocity requirements for this LMIA exemption.
Since this LMIA exemption only applies to residential summer camps, officers should distinguish between residential and day camps:
- A residential camp is one where the campers and the camp counsellors stay overnight at the camp for more than a weekend.
- A day camp is one where the campers return home every day or only stay a weekend. Counsellors at day camps generally require a LMIA for a work permit, because the element of international reciprocity demonstrated for residential camp counsellors has not been shown to exist with day camps. All applicable fees must be paid.
If camps are running as after-school, weekend or as school break programs (for example, they only run when school is on break during the school year), then the reciprocity LMIA exemption does not apply, unless the foreign national provides documentary evidence that satisfies an officer that Canadian camp counsellors have reciprocal opportunities.
In situations where residential summer camp programs extend past the beginning of fall (meaning after September 21, the first day of fall), officers should consider when the camp is open and when the majority of the camp counsellor’s work will take place. If the majority of work will take place in the fall, the work does not meet the known reciprocity requirements.
For example, if a residential camp is set to operate from August to the start of October, then the majority of the camp counsellor’s work could be considered to take place in the summer, making it within the scope of the exemption. Conversely, if a camp operates from August until the end of November, it would be out of the scope of the exemption as the camp counsellor would primarily be working during the fall.
The onus is on the applicant to provide evidence that they meet the eligibility requirements of the exemption and will be able to perform the work being sought as stated in the LMIA-exempt offer of employment.
Offer of employment submitted through the Employer Portal
The following are specific fields officers should review in the Global Case Management System (GCMS):
|Requirements Exemptions Met||This field should reflect the organization’s purpose and mission and the type of camp (residential versus day camp), to help officers determine if a LMIA exemption and potentially a fee exemption apply. This should not be a cut and paste from IRCC’s website.|
|Duties||These are the activities that the foreign national will be performing. Do they align with the reciprocity exemption and the occupation?|
|Job Requirements||Are there specific requirements that align with the benefit? For example, to have experience with children or to live at camp.|
|Minimum Education Requirements||
Although completion of secondary school is usually required for NOC 5254, there may be certain circumstances (for example, if the foreign national is a secondary school student) where this consideration would not apply.
The client’s education may have some bearing on whether the client meets the job requirements; however, its relative weight may be less if their work experience is sufficient.
|Other Training Required||The employer may indicate specialty training as a requirement, for example, first aid training.|
|Alternate Compensation Scheme||To determine if a fee exemption applies, officers can check this section for proof that room and board are included.|
Supporting documents for proof of experience or education
Documentary evidence may include, but is not limited to, evidence demonstrating that the foreign national has knowledge and skills that will support their ability to perform the duties of a camp counsellor (for example, a school transcript, letter from a previous employer, certificates).
Some documents can be used in different slots (in the online application system) if they fill more than one purpose. For example, an employment reference and a letter from the current employer could be the same letter but used for two different purposes.
Note: Some camp counsellors may be travelling internationally for the first time and may not have as much life experience as other work permit applicants. Depending on the circumstances of the case, officers may consider, on a case-by-case basis, the use of section 23 (deferral of examination) should the officer deem it prudent to allow the applicant more time to address gaps in the documentary evidence on file.
Work permit processing fee, employer compliance fee and biometric fees are applicable unless otherwise exempt.
A work permit fee exemption applies [R299(2)(f)] if the foreign national is able to satisfy an officer that they meet both of the following conditions:
- they are not remunerated
- they work for a charity or religious organization
For further information on this fee exemption, see
The employer is not exempt from paying the employer compliance fee unless the foreign national is fee exempt [R303.1(5)].
Note: The LMIA-exempt offer of employment (A-number offer) is mandatory regardless of any fee exemptions.
Processing fee exemption requirements
To be fee exempt under paragraph R299(2)(f) (work permit fee exemption code E02), the foreign national cannot receive remuneration other than a stipend for living expenses, which should be, if monetary, below the minimum wage under the applicable federal, provincial or territorial law. Otherwise, the foreign national should receive only non-monetary benefits (for example, accommodation and health care).
Note: Foreign nationals who are provided with free room and board and receive a stipend may still qualify for a work permit processing fee exemption, provided that the room and board are both:
- integral to the foreign national’s ability to perform the work according to the terms set out in their employment arrangement (meaning on-site residency is a requirement of the job)
- non-monetized (for example, it has little or no market value, it is not provided in a monetary form, like an allowance, it does not constitute a taxable benefit, or it cannot be converted into an economic payout). For example, a room in a residential summer camp is considered to be of no market value, because it generally is not an option available to the public, and even if the employer were to advertise it, it is not a bona fide rental option, and it’s highly unlikely that someone genuinely looking for housing would be interested.
This assessment of remuneration should be used to determine fee exemptions for each application. Camp counsellors who have a history with the camp may advance in rank over time (for example, becoming a camp leader), with a corresponding increase in their level of remuneration, which may change their eligibility for the fee exemption.
A camp counsellor or camp leader working at a residential camp is often “working” 24 hours a day as they are in charge of and responsible for the campers beyond a normal 7.5-hour work day. Officers should take this into account when considering hourly wage, minimum wage and fee exemptions.
Determining charitable and religious organization status for the purpose of fee exemption
Determination of the charitable or religious status of an organization is only required when considering the fee exemption. The organization being religious or charitable is not a requirement for the LMIA exemption, where it is the reciprocity of opportunities that is an important factor.
Organizations registered as a charity with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) should have a registration number. Consult the List of charities and other qualified donees for more information.
For organizations not registered as a charity with the CRA, officers will need to determine if the organization falls within the CRA definition of a charitable organization. In general, for an organization to be considered charitable, its primary purposes must fall into one or more of the following 4 categories:
- the relief of poverty
- for example, summer camps for low-income participants
- the advancement of education
- for example, sports as part of an educational program, such as a school curriculum, or youth groups such as Guides and Scouts
- the advancement of religion
- for example, sports activities offered in addition to the main activity of religious instruction
- other purposes that benefit the community
- for example, sports activities as part of a youth program that are designed to build self-esteem, prevent addictions, or provide therapy or rehabilitation, such as wheelchair sports programs for people with spinal cord injuries, therapeutic riding programs for persons with disabilities, and martial arts programs for people with attention deficit disorders
For more information, see Canadian interests – Charitable work [R205(d)].
Note: Both residential and day camp counsellors may be eligible for a fee exemption under R299(2)(f) if the camp counsellor will work for a Canadian religious or charitable organization, without remuneration.
Allocating fees in the Global Case Management System (GCMS)
The employer compliance fee should allocate automatically when the case type is 52 and the LMIA-exempt number has been properly matched.
Immigration medical examination
Camp counsellor is not a designated occupation that requires a mandatory immigration medical examination.
Potential camp counsellors must undergo an immigration medical examination if they are seeking to enter or remain in Canada for an accumulated period of more than 6 months and have resided in a designated country for 6 consecutive months during the 1-year period immediately preceding the date they seek entry to Canada, if they are submitting an application for extension, or on request by an officer.
Note: This also applies to day camp counsellors.
Authorized period of stay versus work permit period
Some camp counsellors may want the opportunity to travel in Canada after they have completed their work. Since the period of authorized stay can be longer than the period of authorized work, as stated in the program delivery instructions Conditions and validity period on work permits (temporary workers), border services officers may specify a longer date than the work permit validity in the condition imposed under R185 Must leave Canada by [date] on the work permit. This would allow the foreign national to remain as a temporary resident, but without authorization to work.
Port of entry application process
Individuals who are otherwise eligible to make an application at a port of entry may apply for a work permit when seeking entry to Canada. All regular processes and required documentation outlined above also apply to applications made at ports of entry.
Biometric enrollment is required, as applicable.
For more information, see Temporary workers: Eligibility and admissibility.
Work permit issuance in GCMS
Under the Application screen, officers should enter the following information in the specified fields:
|Field||Selection or input|
|Province of destination||The province of destination entered by the applicant should match the address of employment in the LMIA-exempt offer of employment. This information is under the Employment Details – LMIA-exempt tab.|
|City of destination:||The city of destination entered by the applicant should match the address of employment in the LMIA-exempt offer of employment. This information is under the Employment Details – LMIA-exempt tab.|
This code is auto-populated from the LMIA-exempt offer of employment.
5254 [see Note]
The NOC code is auto-populated from the LMIA-exempt offer of employment.
This is auto-populated from the LMIA-exempt offer of employment.
“A” number from the work permit application.
This number is auto-populated from the work permit application, and it is what is used to “match” in the Portal. If the work permit application was submitted on paper, the officer must manually enter the number.
|Employer||Business operating name|
Officers may issue a LMIA-exempt work permit that is valid for the duration of the offer of employment or until the expiry of the travel document, whichever is earlier. If the foreign national is exempt from the travel document requirement (for example, they are a United States citizen), the work permit should be issued for the full duration of the offer of employment.
Refer to Validity period for work permits
Note: Officers are reminded to check the job titles that fall under NOC 5254. The “camp counsellor” title has some flexibility, and other similar titles should be considered if they meet the same qualifications as a camp counsellor.
All residential camp counsellor applications should be processed under LMIA exemption code C20, even for applicants going to faith-based camps. The normal work of a camp counsellor (whose primary duties consist of supervising and guiding children in summer camp activities and leading sports, crafts, games and other recreational activities) is not typically considered religious in nature. Therefore, the LMIA exemption under paragraph R205(d) (Religious work—exemption code C50) should not be used.
Important: When the applicant selects the work permit type “Exemption from Labour Market Impact Assessment” on the application, the Case Type field in GCMS is set automatically to 52. This case type should not be changed to anything else for employer-specific, LMIA-exempt work permit applications that require an offer of employment. No other case type will allow the correct linking in GCMS. Changing the case type to anything other than 52 will negatively impact the integrity of financial and program data in GCMS and may result in blocking the department’s ability to inspect employers. In cases where the A number is not linking properly, officers should ensure that the primary travel document selected in GCMS matches the travel document provided in the LMIA-exempt offer of employment.
Note: If the employer is authorized to use an IMM 5802 form instead of completing the offer of employment through the Employer Portal, see Employer-specific work permits with Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemptions (International Mobility Program).
Camp counsellor in training
Camp counsellors in training who pay the same fee to attend the camp as other campers do not require work permits.
Although camp counsellors in training occasionally assist camp counsellors in their duties, they do not have any of the responsibilities of a camp counsellor and are under constant supervision by a camp counsellor. They do not meet the definition of “work” in the IRPR as they are not entering the labour market or receiving remuneration.
Important: Counsellors in training who pay less than the standard camp fee because they will be working part-time as counsellors to get hands-on experience would meet the definition of work and would therefore require a work permit.
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