Seasonal residential camp counsellors [R205(b)] (LMIA exemption code C20) – 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.

Camp counsellors working at seasonal residential camps during the summer season are exempt from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) requirement pursuant to paragraph 205(b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) (Reciprocity: LMIA exemption code C20). 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.

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, leading sports, crafts, games and other recreational activities) is not typically considered religious in nature. Therefore, LMIA exemption code C50 (Canadian interests – Charitable work) should not be used. Guidance about the applicable fees can be found below.

Note: The eligibility of camp counsellors under exemption code C20 is specific to seasonal camps, as there is a demonstrable and established international reciprocity for this type of time-limited situation. If the seasonal camp counsellor opportunity turns into a year-round one, an LMIA would generally be needed. However, if the foreign national can demonstrate that there is a year-round opportunity for a Canadian camp counsellor to go abroad, they may be eligible for C20.

The onus is on the employer to establish proof of reciprocity in the offer of employment to the satisfaction of the officer. If the officer is not satisfied, then they may refuse the work permit for not meeting the requirements of R200. For more information regarding reciprocity, refer to the following guidance International Mobility Program (IMP): Canadian interests – Reciprocal employment general guidelines R205(b), C20.

Since this LMIA exemption only applies to residential 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.
  • A day camp is one where the campers return home every day. Counsellors at day camps require an LMIA for a work permit, because the same element of international reciprocity demonstrated by residential camp counsellors has not been shown to exist with day camps. All applicable fees must be paid.

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Documentary evidence

The onus is on the applicant to provide evidence that they meet the requirements of the exemption and the work being sought as stated in the LMIA-exempt offer of employment. Documentary evidence may include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • a letter from the employer in Canada outlining the following:
    • the organization’s purpose and mission and the type of camp (residential versus day camp), to help officers determine if a fee exemption applies (this information can also be specified in the offer of employment and should be more than a simple cut and paste from the department’s website)
  • evidence demonstrating that they have knowledge and skills that will support their intended position as a camp counsellor (for example, a school transcript, letter from a previous employer, certificates)

Note: 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.


Work permit processing fee, employer compliance fee and biometric fees are applicable unless otherwise exempt.

The employer is not exempt from paying the employer compliance fee unless the foreign national applying to become a camp counsellor is fee exempt [R303.1(5)].

Note: The LMIA-exempt offer of employment (A# offer) is mandatory regardless of any fee exemption.

A work permit fee exemption applies [R299(2)(f)] if the camp counsellor 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

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 both initial work permit applications and any subsequent work permit applications. 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. Note that 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.

Note: Officers can review the “Alternate Compensation Scheme” field in the LMIA-exempt offer for proof that room and board are included.

Charitable and religious organizations

Determination of the charitable status of an organization is only required when considering the fee exemption. The organization being charitable is not a requirement for the LMIA exemptions where it is the nature of the work that is an important factor.

Organizations registered as a charity with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) should have a registration number. Consult the CRA registration number webpage 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 purposes must fall into one or more of the following 4 categories:

  • the relief of poverty
    • summer camps for low-income participants
  • the advancement of education
    • sports as part of an educational program, such as a school curriculum or even youth groups (for example, Guides and Scouts)
  • the advancement of religion
    • sports activities offered in addition to the main activity of religious instruction
  • other purposes that benefit the community
    • sports activities as part of a youth program that are designed to build self-esteem, prevent addictions, provide therapy or rehabilitation (for example, wheelchair sports programs for people with spinal cord injuries, therapeutic riding programs for persons with disabilities, 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.

Immigration medical examination

Camp counsellors do not fall within the designated occupation group for a mandatory immigration medical examination. Potential camp counsellors must undergo an immigration medical examination only if they have resided in a designated country for 6 consecutive months at any time during the 1-year period immediately preceding the date they seek entry to Canada, or submit their application, or on request by an officer.

Note: This also applies to day camp counsellors.

Work permit duration

Officers may issue an 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.

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 the Global Case Management System (GCMS)

Under the Application screen, officers should confirm the following:

Case Type: 52.

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.

Location: The city and 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.

LMIA Exemption Code: C20 – This code is auto-populated from the LMIA-exempt offer of employment.

NOC: The National Occupation Classification (NOC) code is auto-populated from the LMIA-exempt offer of employment. It should be code 5254.

Intended Occupation: Job title – This is auto-populated from the LMIA-exempt offer of employment.

Employer: Business operating name – This information will be auto-populated from 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).

Allocating fees in GCMS

The employer compliance fee should allocate automatically when the case type is 52 and the LMIA-exempt number has been properly matched.

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