Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Hiring Foreign Workers in Film and Entertainment Occupations

Hiring foreign workers in film and entertainment can be an important part of making a production or holding a cultural or entertainment event in Canada. The entry of foreign workers in film and entertainment can also bring unique international talent to Canada and support cultural exchange.


In most cases, Canadian employers hiring TFWs in film and entertainment must get a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)/Service Canada. The TFW also requires a work permit from Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) in order to work in Canada. These conditions are designed to take into account career development and employment opportunities for Canadians.

Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), there are specific cases where employers in the film and entertainment industries do not need an LMIA, or the foreign workers do not need a work permit.

Positions exempt from an LMIA and work permit include:

  • producers of film, television, video and documentary projects funded entirely from outside of Canada;
  • adjudicators at music and dance festivals;
  • performing artists and their essential crew, but only if they are:
    • entering Canada to perform for time-limited engagements;
    • not being hired for ongoing employment by the Canadian group that has contracted them; and
    • not involved in making a movie, television or radio broadcast.

Examples of performing artists include:

  • musicians in a band performing several tour dates in Canada;
  • guest conductors and artists performing with Canadian productions or groups for a few performances;
  • actors in foreign touring theatrical productions;
  • professional wrestlers and circus performers in foreign touring productions;
  • musicians and buskers coming to Canada to perform in festivals;
  • support crew and other workers who are integral to a live production;
  • disc jockeys coming to Canada to work at private events, festivals, concerts and fairs.

An LMIA and a work permit are still required for foreign performing artists who are:

  • on the production of film, television or radio broadcast;
  • not performing in a time-limited engagement; or
  • in an “employment relationship” with the organization or business in Canada that is contracting for their services (e.g. a permanent piano bar employee).

Entry to Canada

TFWs exempt from an LMIA from ESDC and a work permit from CIC can apply for a visitor visa directly at a CIC visa office or at a Canadian port of entry in the case of citizens of contiguous states including the United States, St. Pierre et Miquelon, and Greenland

Positions that do not require an LMIA but require a work permit include:

  • actors and workers on a film co-production between Canada and a foreign country.

Entry to Canada

These TFWs can apply for a work permit directly at a CIC visa office or at a Canadian port of entry in the case of citizens of contiguous states including the United States, St. Pierre et Miquelon, and Greenland.


Employers who wish to hire a TFW in a film and entertainment related position must ensure that all requirements are met.

Processing Fee

Employers must pay $1,000 for each position requested (e.g. $1,000 x number of positions=total payment) to cover the cost of processing a labour market impact assessment (LMIA) application.

  • The processing fee payment (in Canadian dollars) can be made by:
    • certified cheque (payable to the Receiver General for Canada)
    • money order (postal or bank)
    • Visa
    • MasterCard
    • American Express
  • There will be no refund in the event of a negative LMIA, or if the application is withdrawn or cancelled by the employer since the fee covers the assessment process and not the outcome.
  • Employers requesting to have their LMIA application reconsidered, as a result of a negative LMIA, must submit a new application and processing fee for each position.
  • Refunds will only be available if a fee was collected in error (e.g. an incorrect fee amount was processed).

Employers must be aware that Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), has a policy that prohibits employers and third-party representatives from recovering the LMIA processing fee from TFWs.

Language Restriction

A distinct language assessment factor has been introduced as subsection 203 (1.01) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR). As a result, English and French are the only languages that can be identified as a job requirement both in LMIA applications and in job advertisements by employers, unless they can demonstrate that another language is essential for the job.

Union Consultation

Although it is not a mandatory requirement, if the position being filled by the TFW is unionized, it is recommended that employers:

  • work actively with union representatives to recruit unemployed Canadians and permanent residents;
  • consult the union on its position regarding the hiring of a TFW for the available job;
  • confirm that the conditions of the collective agreement (e.g. wages, working conditions) will apply to the TFW.


  • ESDC/Service Canada may contact the union for more information.
  • The position offered to the TFW cannot affect current or foreseeable labour disputes at the workplace, or the employment of any Canadian or permanent resident workers involved in these disputes.

Third-party Representatives and Recruiters

Employers do not need to use the services of a third-party representative or recruiter to apply for a TFW. However, employers who choose to use the services of one of these individuals or organizations must pay for all of the fees associated with the service and meet all of the applicable requirements.

Representatives assist employers by providing services, such as:

  • explaining and providing advice on the TFWP;
  • completing and submitting the application form and all required documents;
  • communicating with ESDC/Service Canada on the employer’s behalf; and
  • representing the employer during the application process.

Employers who wish to use the services of a representative, paid or unpaid, must complete and submit Schedule A - Appointment of a Third-party Representative. Employers must identify their representative and not simply the firm/organization employing this person.

Paid Representatives

Individuals representing or assisting employers in exchange for compensation (e.g. money, goods or services) must be authorized under section 91 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), which means they have to be a member in good standing with:

  • a Canadian provincial/territorial law society, or a student-at-law under its supervision;
  • the Chambre des notaires du Québec;
  • the Province of Ontario’s law society as a paralegal; or
  • the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC).

Employers should visit Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to verify that a specific representative is authorized to represent them or provide immigration advice.

Unpaid Representatives

Individuals representing employers for free (e.g. do not collect fees or other forms of compensation) are not subject to any restrictions under the IRPA. These individuals are usually family members, non-for-profit or religious organizations that assist employers who may not be able to complete the application process on their own.


Recruiters can assist employers by providing services such as:

  • placing job advertisements for the recruitment of TFWs;
  • screening potential employees;
  • making travel arrangements; and
  • negotiating wages/salaries on behalf of the employer.

Employers, using the services of a paid recruiter to represent them during the LMO application process, must complete the Third-party, Recruiter or Employer Agency Information section of the application form as well as the separate Schedule A - Appointment of a Third-party Representative. The paid recruiter representing the employer must be a member of one of the groups authorized under section 91 of the IRPA.

If a paid representative is not authorized under the IRPA, ESDC/Service Canada will continue to process the application, but will communicate with the employer directly. However, a copy of a signed letter stating that the employer is no longer using the services of the original representative will be required before the employer can:

  • hire another paid authorized representative; or
  • work with an unpaid representative.

Employers who wish to appoint another representative must also submit a new Schedule A - Appointment of a Third-party Representative.


ESDC/Service Canada:

  • reserves the right to contact employers directly when further information or documentation is required.
  • will not mediate a dispute between an employer and a third-party representative nor communicate complaints to a regulatory body on an employer’s behalf. Employers who wish to file a formal complaint against their representative should contact the appropriate regulatory body (e.g. the provincial law society, the Chambre des notaires du Québec or the ICCR). For additional information on how to file a complaint, visit CIC.

Wages, Working Conditions and Occupations

Employers hiring temporary foreign workers (TFW) must:

  • comply with the prevailing wage set by Employment and Skills Development Canada (ESDC)/Service Canada;
  • be prepared to provide documentation that clearly demonstrates the wage being paid to the foreign workers.

Employers must refer to the median wage posted on Job Bank.

Recruitment and Advertisement

Employers in the Film and Entertainment sector are exempt from the recruitment and advertisement requirements. For more information on this exemption, refer to the Variations to Minimum Advertising Requirements.

How to Apply

Employers applying for a labour market impact assessment (LMIA) can use the:

  1. Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Web Service (online); or
  2. paper application form (by mail or fax).

1. Temporary Foreign Worker Web Service

The TFW Web Service reduces the paper burden and speeds the processing of LMIA applications. In addition, employers using the Web Service will have the opportunity to:

  • have an online account where they can update their profile information;
  • complete and submit online LMIA applications;
  • create and assign secondary representatives, as needed, to assist with completing the applications;
  • attach files instead of mailing the required documentation;
  • receive electronic messages from Service Canada regarding their application (e.g. missing documentation);
  • monitor the status of their LMIA applications.

Employers and authorized third-party representatives can consult the Registration Guide and Form to complete the one-time only registration form, to set up their online account. Once the registration is approved, they can proceed to LOGIN to apply for their LMIA.

LOGIN – TFW Web Service.

2. Paper Application Form

Complete, sign (where applicable) and submit the following documents:

  1. LMIA Application Form (EMP5517).
  2. Schedule A - Appointment of a Third Party Representative (EMP5575) (if applicable).
  3. Schedule B - Impact on the Canadian Labour Market (EMP5578) (if applicable).
  4. Proof of recruitment (e.g. copy of advertisement and information to support where, when and for how long the position was advertised).

Send all documentation:

By Mail or Fax:
To the Service Canada Centre responsible for processing the LMIA applications in the region where the TFW will be employed.

For assistance – Phone:
The Service Canada Centre responsible for processing the LMIA applications in the region where the TFW will be employed.


A complete application means that employers have:

  • filled out all of the fields in all of the necessary forms;
  • included all of the required documentation;
  • signed the forms where required; and
  • submitted the fee payment with the application.

If an application is submitted and it is not complete, Service Canada staff will inform the employer that the application will not be processed. Incomplete applications and supporting documents submitted with the application will not be retained or returned to the employer. As a result, employers are advised to submit copies, not original documents.

Labour Market Impact Assessment Processing

ESDC is working to achieve a more consistent approach to service delivery across the country while reducing red tape for some employers. As a result, applications that meet certain criteria will be processed within 10-day business days. However, employers must still meet all Program requirements as the service standard will be met by processing these applications first, not by reducing the thoroughness of the assessments done on these applications.

Applications may be processed within 10 business days, provided employers are hiring TFWs in positions that meet one or more of the established criteria, which include:

Highest-demand occupations

These occupations:

Short-duration work periods

These positions:


These occupations have a prevailing wage that is, at or above the top 10% of wages in the province/territory where the job is located

Employers, who meet the criteria for processing under the 10-day service standard, will not receive this service if:

  • the application is missing information;
  • additional time is required to consult the employer on details contained in the application; or
  • the employer is selected for an Employer Compliance Review or inspection.


In Quebec applications are jointly processed by Service Canada and the ministère de l'Immigration, de la Diversité et de l'Inclusion (MIDI), as a result, the 10-day service standard will not apply.

Next Steps

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)/Service Canada will assess the application submitted by the employer to determine what impact hiring a TFW would have on Canada's job market. Based on the application and the documents received, the Department will issue a positive or negative opinion.

Labour Market Impact Assessment Process

All applications go through a systematic assessment process to:

  1. Verify if the employer is:
    1. eligible to participate in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). The list of ineligible employers appears on Citizenship and Immigration Canada's (CIC) Web site; and
    2. using an authorized third-party representative, if applicable.
  2. Verify the consistency of the job offer with federal-provincial-territorial agreements.
  3. Assess the genuineness of the job offer. The assessment is based on whether the:
    • Employer is actively engaged in the business related to the job offer;
    • job offered to the TFW is consistent with the employment needs of the employer;
    • employer can fulfil the terms and conditions of the job offer;
    • employer or the third-party representative is compliant with the relevant federal-provincial-territorial employment and recruitment legislation;
  4. Assess the language requirement of the job offer, to ensure that English and French are the only languages identified as a job requirement, unless employers can demonstrate that another language is a bona fide requirement for the job.
  5. Assess:
    • the impact of hiring a TFW on the labour market including:
      1. wages and working conditions offered;
      2. occupation in which the TFW will be employed;
      3. employer's recruitment and advertisement efforts;
      4. benefits to the labour market;
      5. consultations, if any, with the appropriate union; and the
      6. effect on the settlement of a labour dispute.
    • previous job offers that the employer has made to a TFW:
      • Did the employer employ a TFW in the last 2 years, prior to December 31, 2013?
        • This is to determine whether the employer provided all TFWs employed by the company with wages, working conditions and employment in an occupation that was substantially the same as those that were described in the previous offer of employment (and confirmed in the LMIA letter and annexes?
      • Did the employer apply for and receive a positive LMIA on or after December 31, 2013 and employ a TFW in that position?
        • This is to determine whether the employer provided all TFWs employed on LMIAs received on or after December 31, 2013, with employment in the same occupation as described in the previous offer of employment (and confirmed in the LMIA letter and annexes) and with substantially the same wages and working conditions - but not less favourable than - those set out in that offer of employment (and confirmed in the LMIA letter and annexes)?

In addition, as part of the assessment process, ESDC/Service Canada will ensure that the employer has met all the Program Requirements. Once the assessment process is complete, ESDC/Service Canada will notify the employer in writing of the final decision.

Positive LMIA

The employer will receive a letter confirming the approval of the LMIA application. This positive LMIA is valid for 6 months from the date of issue. For privacy reasons, the letter will not include the names of the TFWs. However, it provides specific details about the job offer, such as the wages, working conditions and occupations as well as a system file number. The names of the workers will appear in Annex B which is intended for the employer's records only, and is NOT to be shared with the TFW as it is not required for the purposes of applying for a work permit.

Once the positive LMIA letter is received, it is the employer's responsibility to:

  • send a copy of this letter to the TFW;
  • ask the TFW to apply to CIC for a work permit. The TFW must include with the work permit application a copy of the positive LMIA letter signed by both the employer and the worker.

Provincial Variations

If the job is located in Quebec, the employer must:

  • send to the TFW a copy of the:
    • positive LMIA letter issued jointly by ESDC and the ministère de l'Immigration, de la Diversité et de l'Inclusion (MIDI)
    • Quebec Certificate of Acceptance issued by MIDI
  • ask the TFW to submit this documentation along with the work permit application to CIC. Visit CIC's Web site to find a Canadian Visa Office.

Work Permit

CIC will then assess the TFW's work permit application. If the assessment is positive, the TFW will receive a work permit to be able to work for a specific employer, under established working conditions, and for a particular duration in Canada.


Some countries may require that their citizens meet certain conditions if they want to work in Canada. Employers should:

  • ask the TFW to verify if additional conditions apply,
  • contact the consulate of the foreign worker's country in Canada; or
  • visit the consulate's Web site.

Once the TFW arrives in Canada, the employer must:

  • ensure that the worker is authorized to work and check the duration of the work permit;
  • verify that the TFW's work permit indicates that it is for a job under the high-skilled; and
  • keep records of the number of regular and overtime hours the TFW has worked on a weekly/monthly basis.


Employers are not allowed to take away the TFW's identification documents such as passport, work permit or other identification.

Employers must apply for a new LMIA when they anticipate that their need for TFWs will continue beyond the period covered by the work permit. The new LMIA application should be sent at least 4 months prior to the expiry of the work permit, to ensure ESDC/Service Canada has sufficient time to process the application and for CIC to process the work permit extension. However, applications received more than 6 months in advance of the job start date will not be accepted.

Maximum Cumulative Duration of Work in Canada

On April 1, 2011, CIC introduced a regulatory amendment that establishes a 4-year cumulative duration limit a TFW can work in Canada. As a result, employers wishing to make a job offer to a TFW who has previously worked in Canada should be aware that TFWs reaching or close to reaching the 4-year limit may not be granted a new work permit, or an extension to their current work permit or they may have its duration limited. In addition, once the 4-year limit has been reached, the TFW will have to wait 4 years before being eligible to work in Canada again. The 4-year cumulative duration limit will only be counted starting from April 1, 2011 which means that as a result of this regulation, refusals of work permits will potentially begin April 1st, 2015.

Revocation of an LMIA

The revocation of a labour market impact assessment (LMIA) means overturning the decision based on new information, which changes the opinion from positive to negative.

An LMIA may be revoked if it has not yet expired, work permits or permanent residence visas have not been issued by CIC, and if one or more of the following circumstances apply:

  • The employer has provided materially false or misleading information.
  • New facts or information are brought forward after a positive LMIA has been issued, that would have changed the assessment of the application, resulting in a negative LMIA.
  • The opinion was based on an unintentional error as to some material fact.

The revocation of an LMIA is based on reliable and documented evidence that confirms that the new information or altered circumstances would have had an impact on the assessment of the factors listed under section 203 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR).

Negative LMIA

ESDC/Service Canada issues a negative LMIA letter if the employer does not meet all the Program Requirements.

Employer Compliance

ESDC/Service Canada takes the integrity of the TFWP very seriously. Employers hiring TFWs are expected to be compliant with the TFWP, by upholding the terms and conditions of employment as stated in the original job offer and set out in the positive LMIA letter and annexes.

Employers must also follow all federal/provincial/territorial employment regulations and laws, as all workers in Canada, have the same labour and human rights and social protections.

In accordance with amendments to the IRPR (Section 203(1)(e)), employers who have hired a TFW within the past 2 years, prior to December 31, 2013, may be subject to an employer compliance review after submitting a new LMIA application.

This review, often known as an STS assessment, requires employers to demonstrate that the TFWs were provided with substantially the same:

  • wages;
  • working conditions; and
  • occupation, as set out on the positive LMIA letter and annexes.

Employers who applied for and have received a positive LMIA, on or after December 31, 2013, and employed a TFW in that position, must demonstrate they provided the TFW with:

  • employment in the same occupation as described in the previous offer of employment (and confirmed in the LMIA letter and annexes); and
  • substantially the same wages and working conditions - but not less favourable than - those set out in that offer of employment (and confirmed in the LMIA letter and annexes).

More information is available in the Employer Compliance section.