International Mobility Program: Unique work situations – Oceans Act

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Canada’s territorial limit extends 12 miles from all Canadian ocean shorelines. Normal immigration requirements apply within this limit. Within Canada’s 12- to 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), work permits are also required for any workers hired aboard a marine installation or structure (and its safety zone) that is anchored or attached to the continental shelf or seabed in connection with the continental shelf or seabed’s exploration or the exploitation of its mineral or non-living resources. This includes any artificial island constructed, erected or placed on the continental shelf. This does not include vessels operating past the 12-mile territorial limit that are not attached to or the property of an artificial island, or anchored to the seabed.

Definitions that pertain to the Oceans Act:

Artificial island
Any man-made extension of the seabed or of a seabed feature, whether or not the extension breaks the surface of the superjacent waters
Continental shelf
The seabed and subsoil of those submarine areas that extend beyond the territorial sea throughout the natural prolongation of the land territory of Canada to the outer edge of the continental margin or to a distance of 200 nautical miles from the inner limits of the territorial sea, whichever is the greater, or that extend to such other limits as are prescribed the Oceans Act
Marine installation or structure
Any ship, offshore drilling unit, production platform, sub-sea installation, pumping station, living accommodation, storage structure, loading or landing platform, floating crane, pipe-laying or other barge or pipeline and any anchor, anchor cable or rig pad in connection therewith, and any other work within a class of works prescribed in the Oceans Act

Foreign workers need an LMIA for a work permit if they are employed in any of the following locations:

  • aboard any marine installation or structure attached or anchored to the continental shelf:
    • in connection with the exploration of that shelf; or
    • in connection with the exploitation of its mineral or other non-living resources;
  • on or under any artificial island constructed, erected or placed on the continental shelf or seabed, including the following examples:
    • foreign workers employed on drill ships or drill platforms anchored to the continental shelf for the purpose of searching for oil;
    • gravity-based structure (GBS) production platforms used to extract crude oil within the 200-mile economic zone limit or the edge of the continental shelf.
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