International Mobility Program: Unique work situations – Fishing guides

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

Since 1993, Canada and the United States (U.S.) have recognized the legitimate nature of both countries’ labour certification process (confirmation) for fishing guides who want to operate in the other country, as the temporary entry provisions of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) do not apply to fishing or hunting guides. As a result, such guides are facilitated in Canada in the following cases:

  • Border lakes: For fishing guides working on lakes straddling the Canada–U.S. border, officers may issue seasonal work permits that are exempt from labour market impact assessments (LMIAs) pursuant to paragraph 205(b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (exemption code C20 – reciprocal employment). This exemption is based on the principle (and fact) that Canadian fishing guides are accorded a similar privilege to work on the U.S. side of a border lake.
    • Seasonal work permits, specifying day use only, may be issued for guiding U.S. residents or persons staying at a U.S. facility.
  • Canadian employers: U.S. fishing guides working for a Canadian employer (such as a resort) require an LMIA for a work permit.
  • Canadian lakes: U.S. fishing guides who wish to work on a lake that is fully inside the Canadian border require an LMIA for a work permit. For guides who are self-employed (where there is no employer on either side), officers may issue an LMIA-exempt work permit if the guide can demonstrate that the requirements of paragraph R205(a) (exemption code C11 – self-employed) are met. Fishing guides must be able to demonstrate that their activities attract tourism or benefit Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

Consistent with the privilege of free navigation in the Boundary Water Treaty, U.S. guides who cross the Canadian boundary line to get to a U.S. fishing destination are not required to report for examination by Canadian port of entry officials. U.S. fishing guides possessing an Ontario fishing licence and fishing well across the boundary line within Canada are not considered to be incidentally in Canada and do require a work permit. (See the information on border lakes, above.)

Transport Canada regulates all maritime transport operations on Canadian waters, including transit of foreign vessels. U.S. operators are required to have proper certifications to operate their vessels in Canadian waters or any other waters. U.S. vessels are issued certificates by their own administration (United States Coast Guard), and Transport Canada has an agreement to recognize U.S. certification when U.S. vessels operate or transit within the Great Lakes, the Strait of Juan de Fuca or other inland waters of Canada. This means that U.S. vessels under 24 meters are not required to have the same certifications as Canadian registered vessels.

Work permit issuance in the Global Case Management System (GCMS)

  • Employer Name: business name as per the offer of employment (if the foreign national is self-employed, their name can be used)
  • Employment Location: as per the offer of employment
  • LMIA-exemption Code: C-20 (border lakes – reciprocity) or C-11 (Canadian lakes – self-employed)
  • NOC: 64322 or as specified in the offer of employment
  • Intended Occupation: fishing guide or as specified in the offer of employment
  • Case Type: 52
  • Employer Compliance fee: required
  • Duration:
    • For border lakes, the work permit should be valid for the duration of the fishing season (this should be specified in the offer of employment) and must have the following condition: “As per subparagraph R185(b)(iv): Only authorized to work during daylight hours in Canadian waters”.
    • For Canadian lakes, the work permit should be valid for the duration specified in the offer of employment.

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.

For further information, see International Mobility Program: Employer-specific work permits with Labour Market Impact Assessment exemptions.

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