Information received from Employment and Social Development (ESD) Canada:

  • Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and Regulations, there are specific cases where employers in the film and entertainment industries do not need a work permit from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), and therefore do not require a Labour Market Opinion (LMO) from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).
  • A full list of work permit-exempt performing artist situations can be found here: Appendix 1) 
  • However, the Regulations are clear that performing artists are not exempt from either work permit or LMO requirements if they are performing in a bar, restaurant or similar establishment (see excerpt below from the Regulations, S.186) as in those situations there are potential labour market impacts for Canadian performing artists.  In this respect, the LMO rules have not changed – it has long been the case that booking agents, promoters, and venue owners are required to obtain an LMO to hire international artists to perform in bars and restaurants in Canada.
  • Employers are now required to pay a $275 fee for each temporary foreign worker (TFW) position they request through an LMO. This ensures that the administrative costs of the program are paid by employers and are no longer subsidized by taxpayers.
  • However, when international artists are being booked by a promoter or booking agent to play at several bar and/or restaurant venues across Canada, they are only required to pay the LMO fee once.

List of work permit-exempt performing artist situations
If your job category is listed below, you do NOT need a work permit. However, you may need to meet other requirements. Read the information carefully.
Performing Artists:
Foreign artists and their essential support staff, the people that are integral to the performance, can work in Canada without a permit only under these conditions:

  • They are only performing in Canada for a limited period of time.
  • They will not be performing in a bar or restaurant. If they will do so, performers and their staff each need a work permit.
  • They are not entering into an employment relationship with the Canadian group that has contracted for their services.
  • They are not performing in the production of a movie, television or radio broadcast.

Examples of performing artists who can come to Canada without a work permit:

  • foreign-based band or theatre group and their essential crew not performing in a bar or restaurant
  • street performers (buskers), disc jockeys
  • foreign or traveling circus
  • guest artists within a Canadian performance group for a time-limited engagement
  • World Wrestling Entertainment wrestlers (and similar groups)
  • persons performing at a private event, such as a wedding
  • air show performers,
  • rodeo contestants
  • artists attending or working at a showcase
  • film producers (business visitors)
  • film and recording studio users (limited to small groups renting studios who are not entering the labour market and business visitors)
  • persons doing guest spots on Canadian television and radio broadcasts (guest speakers)



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