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Employment possibilities for television and film projects in Canada

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August 10, 2023

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Naju Gadhavi

Film and TV Production in Canada

Navigating Work permit options for TV and Film Production

In acknowledgement of the significant role that TV and film personnel play, the Canadian government has prioritized the swift and efficient entry of these individuals into the country. This approach is driven by the understanding that their presence not only generates employment opportunities within Canada but also serves as a catalyst for attracting substantial investments.

Through the TV and Film Production Work Permit Category, both foreign and Canadian production companies engaged in filming within Canada can bring essential personnel into the country. This category enables them to do so if they can prove that the foreign worker’s role is vital to the production.

A noteworthy aspect of this category is that work permits granted within it are exempt from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) requirement. LMIA ensures that hiring foreign workers doesn’t negatively impact the Canadian labor market. This exemption streamlines the work permit process, resulting in quicker processing times.

Despite the LMIA exemption, foreign workers must still fulfill all the prerequisites for temporary work in Canada, including obtaining a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV).

Applicants in this category are mandated to furnish documentation showcasing their eligibility. This entails submitting a letter of support from the production, typically encompassing the following information:

  • The name and contact information for the production,
  • The title of the production, the provinces, or territories in Canada in which the production will take place and the proposed dates of production,
  • The name of the work permit applicant for the production,
  • A statement confirming that the individual and position are essential to that specific TV or film production,
  • Details of the significant economic benefit to Canada of the TV or film production, which may include:
  • The signature of a senior representative of the production,
  • The date of signature; and
  • The estimated number of jobs for Canadians created by the production,
  • The estimated budgetary spend in Canada at the federal, provincial, or territorial level, and
  • A statement confirming that the TV or film production satisfies the criteria for federal, provincial, or territorial tax credit for TV or film production, or is the recipient of federal, provincial or territorial funding for TV or film production.

If the foreign worker’s position is unionized, a letter from the union of guild is required, which would generally contain the following:

  • The description of the union or guild,
  • The working title and the relevant locations of the TV or film production,
  • The name of the work permit applicant,
  • A statement for the officer’s consideration indicating that the union or guild is of the view that the work to be performed is subject to a collective agreement and that it has no objection to the foreign national working in the specified position for the specified company,
  • The signature of a senior representative of the organization, and
  • The date of signature.

Exploring Business Visitor Opportunities in the Entertainment Industry

In certain instances, foreign professionals aiming to work in Canada’s entertainment sector can leverage the Business visitor route. This pathway offers an  entry without the need for a traditional work permit, provided the individual meets the designated criteria.

There are three primary categories within the entertainment industry that qualify for consideration as business visitors:

  1. Film Producers: Those involved in producing movies, TV shows, or documentaries, with funding entirely sourced from foreign origins, may qualify. This category accommodates individuals engaged in projects that are independently financed abroad.
  2. Essential Personnel: This category encompasses foreign workers participating in foreign-financed projects within Canada. These individuals are typically required for a brief period, usually spanning no more than two weeks, to fulfill crucial roles in the production.
  3. Performing Artists: Individuals who are slated to perform at shows, concerts, or festivals fall within this category. As business visitors, performing artists are permitted entry for the specific duration of their performance engagement.

It’s important to note that the discretion to grant business visitor status ultimately rests with immigration officers. Therefore, adhering to the specific requirements is essential to ensure a smooth entry process.

While foreign workers in the entertainment industry have various things to explore in Canada, the business visitor option provides a streamlined pathway for short-term engagements that contribute to the vibrancy of the nation’s cultural and creative landscape.


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