International Mobility Program: Authorization to work without a work permit – Performing artists

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 content below outlines which types of activities according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada meet the requirements of R186(g), and which types of activities will require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and work permits.

NOTE: R186(g)(ii) was amended on June 19, 2014, to remove the work permit requirement for certain foreign artists entering Canada to perform in bars and restaurants.

Entry without a work permit

  • Foreign-based musical and theatrical individuals and groups and their essential crew;
  • street performers (buskers), DJs;
  • a foreign or traveling circus;
  • guest artists (not employed) within a Canadian performance group for a time-limited engagement;
  • wrestlers from the World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE) (and similar groups);
  • persons performing at a private event for a time-limited engagement, such as a wedding;
  • air show performers;
  • artists working at or attending a showcase or workshop; which may include competing, judging competitors, demonstrating their skill, and holding a class related to the showcase or workshop, as well as visual artists creating or displaying their own work (normally no more than five days, although some flexibility in duration may be permitted);
  • rodeo contestants (e.g., bronco-riders, steer-ropers, barrel racers).

Note: The following persons will be granted entry as visitors pursuant to regulations other than R186(g):

  • business visitors:
    • film producers,
    • film and recording studio users (limited to small groups renting studios not entering the labour market);
  • guest speakers:
    • persons making guest appearances on Canadian TV and radio broadcasts.

Work permit and LMIA required

  • Actors, singers, crew, etc., in Canadian theatrical productions, shows, or circuses;
  • individuals involved in making films, television, internet and radio broadcasts (with the exception of co-production agreements where actors, etc., will be issued work permits exempt from an LMIA under R204, exemption T11);
  • individuals who will be in an employment relationship with the organization or business contracting for their services in Canada;
  • performers in Canadian-based productions or shows.
  • rodeo performers or side show workers (e.g., rodeo clowns and announcers, horsemanship or trick riding displays, ‘half-time acts’ and other specialty act entertainers).

"Time-limited engagement" referred to in R186(g)(i)

For a guest artist performing with a Canadian group, a "time-limited engagement" allows for flexibility, but as a general guideline, an unlimited number of rehearsals and performances over a two-week period are reasonable. A longer duration is also possible, as long as the expectation of a “time-limited engagement” is apparent. However, a foreign national who rehearses and performs with a Canadian orchestra for an entire season, for example, would need a work permit and an LMIA.

"Employment relationship" referred to in R186(g)(ii)

A foreign performing artist would not be in an employment relationship if they were merely hired to perform a single concert or short series of concerts. For example, if a couple hired a band to perform at their wedding, or a festival hired a singer to perform twice in a weekend, there is no employment relationship created even where contracts are signed. However, if a dinner theatre hired a foreign singer or dancer to perform five nights a week on a weekly basis (four weeks or longer), an employer-employee relationship would be created and a work permit and an LMIA would be required. Or, if a city contracted a foreign puppeteer to do three shows a day in a park for a whole summer, this would also be considered an employment relationship. Essentially, contracts for short-term 'gigs' would not create an 'employment relationship' between an artist and the organization contracting for their services and R186(g)(ii) would be met. A longer-term contract, where the performer is expected to perform on a regular basis and usually in the same venue, would be considered an employment relationship, and a work permit and an LMIA would be required.

Documentation and fees

Fees for individual work permits apply. In cases where members of a performing group of greater than three persons require work permits, the ($465) group fee and the ($255) group biometric fee, will apply when the group applies at the same time in the same place.

To learn more about the different types of artistic occupations and guidelines, consult Types of artistic and performing arts occupations.

Page details

Date modified: