How to get a Canadian work permit as a Television or Film worker

Canada’s immigration department has recognised the importance of allowing TV and Film workers into the country, due to economic benefit that such workers can provide, in creating jobs and attracting significant investment.

Canada has often been renowned for its friendliness to North America’s (and the global) entertainment industry—often for favourable filming and production costs, as well as government grants. This extends to the ability of professionals in this industry to enter and work in Canada—with Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) instituting a TV and Film Production Work Permit category specifically for these workers.

This category permits international and Canadian production companies filming in Canada to employ foreign workers, provided the roles they fulfil are crucial to a film or TV project’s production.

Work permits under this category are not subject to Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) evaluations. The LMIA assessment’s main aim is to confirm that employing a foreign worker will bring either a neutral or positive impact on the Canadian labour market. By exempting this category from the LMIA, the work permit procedure is streamlined, and processing times are usually more efficient. If the foreign worker’s job falls under Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities (TEER)* category 0 or 1, they may be eligible for work permit processing within one to two weeks.

*TEER categories are the Canadian government’s system for categorising jobs based on the required training, education, experience, and responsibilities of the position. These categories range from 0 (the highest level, reserved for management occupations) to 5 (reserved for short-term work without the need for formal education).

Who is eligible for a TV and Film Production Work Permit?

Individuals may be eligible for this type of work permit if:

  • Their work is essential to a live-action TV or film project in the production (filming) stage (being filmed in Canada);
  • The production of this film or TV project will create and maintain significant economic benefit for Canadians and permanent residents;
  • Their job falls under the high-wage category of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), and is unionised in Canada; and
  • They meet the general eligibility requirements for a Canadian work permit.

What do I need when applying for this work permit?

Despite being exempted from an LMIA, foreign workers still need to fulfil all the conditions for temporary work in Canada, including obtaining a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV)—facilitating the entry and exit into and out of Canada, with possibility or returning for the validity of the visa.

Applicants for the TV and Film Production Work Permit are required to submit documents proving that they meet job requirements. The documentation should include a support letter from the production company. This letter should contain the following information:

  • Contact details and name of the production entity;
  • Title of the production, its location in Canada, and planned production dates
  • Name of the applicant for the work permit;
  • Assurance that the specified position and the individual are critically important for the particular TV or film production; and
  • Potential economic advantage to Canada due to this production, which may include supporting details like: Signature of a top executive of the production, signature date, anticipated number of job openings for Canadian citizens as a result of the production, estimated expenditure at the federal, provincial, or territorial level in Canada; and or verification that the TV or film production meets the requirements for federal, provincial, or territorial TV or film production tax credit or it has received federal, provincial, or territorial funding.

Further, because the position of the foreign worker must be unionised in Canada (for this kind of work permit), they will need to include a letter from their relevant union or guild, including other details such as:

  • The description of the union or guild;
  • The working title and the relevant location(s) 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 organisation; and
  • The date of signature.

Additionally, there are certain personnel in the film and TV industries that do not need a work permit to visit and work in Canada, including film producers, essential workers for a foreign financed shoot staying in Canada for less than two weeks, and preforming artists. Find more information at our dedicated webpage here.

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