International Mobility Program: Canadian interests – Reciprocal employment – Performing arts – [R205(b)] (exemption code C23)

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Facilitating the entry of foreign nationals working in dance (e.g., ballet, contemporary), opera, orchestra and live theatre contributes to competitive advantages and reciprocal benefits for all Canadians, including Canadian performing artists and performing arts organizations.

As of February 17, 2016, key creative personnel and talent associated with Canadian, non-profit performing arts companies and organizations in the orchestral music, opera, live theatre and dance disciplines may be eligible for an exemption from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) requirement under paragraph R205(b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR).

Eligibility requirements 

Officers may apply the LMIA exemption code C23 to work permit applications, including renewals, received on or after February 17, 2016, if they are satisfied that reciprocal employment opportunities exist for Canadians and permanent residents. Evidence of reciprocal employment opportunities may include

  • an Offer of Employment submitted by the employer (i.e., performing arts company or organization), as per section R209.11, that clearly indicates
    • the applicant’s job offer (job title and main duties) is in the dance, opera, orchestra or live theatre discipline of the arts,
    • the employer is a current recipient of annual or multi-year operational funding support from the Canada Council for the Arts or of financial support via parliamentary appropriation (e.g., National Arts Centre); and
  • a letter (or other evidence) submitted by the applicant that has been provided by the applicable Canadian performing arts representative or service organization and that proves reciprocal international opportunities exist for Canadians in that particular discipline (e.g., contemporary dancers, ballet choreographers, opera singers, actors in theatrical productions, orchestral musicians).

Note: A 1:1 ratio is not necessary; rather, proof that similar opportunities for Canadians exist internationally is required.

This letter should generally include specifications such as

  • the organization’s mandate, including information on who is eligible for membership;
  • the discipline in question (dance, live theatre, orchestra, opera) and the types of work (e.g., dancer, choreographer) for which the organization can affirm reciprocity;
  • a statement affirming that reciprocity has been known to exist over the past year, including details on how the organization is able to affirm reciprocity;

Note: Many organizations are aware of the specific opportunities abroad that were available to their members in a given year, how many Canadians went abroad to work and how many foreign workers were hired. The reciprocity does not need to be one for one (e.g., ten ballet dancers had opportunities in Europe in one year, while ten foreign worker ballet dancers were hired by Canadian ballet companies); however, officers must be satisfied that there are similar opportunities available to both Canadians and foreign workers. The reciprocity affirmed by the organization may be over a period of one year.

  • the signature of a senior representative of the organization able to affirm reciprocity; and
  • the date of signature.

If applicable, the applicant may, to support their work permit application, also provide a copy of a formal agreement between a Canadian performing arts organization and an international performing arts organization that stipulates the employment of particular workers who possess intellectual property related to the production (e.g., choreography, lighting or set design, or direction).

For applications submitted online, the letter proving reciprocity and any additional documents may be uploaded under Letter of Explanation.

Further information on reciprocity letters

For some disciplines and occupations, there may be multiple representative or service organizations able to affirm reciprocity. It is anticipated that the following organizations may provide letters of reciprocity to work permit applicants:

  • Dance: Canadian Dance Assembly, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), Canadian Actors’ Equity Association, Regroupement québécois de la danse
  • Orchestra: Orchestras Canada, Canadian Federation of Music
  • Theatre: IATSE, Canadian Actors’ Equity Association
  • Opera: Opera.ca, Canadian Actors’ Equity Association

Other LMIA or work permit exemptions for consideration

Depending on the nature of the work to be performed and how the production is funded, applicants may be eligible for other LMIA or work permit exemptions.

Employer compliance fee

Regulations for the International Mobility Program provide that, when hiring LMIA-exempt foreign workers, employers must pay an employer compliance fee and submit an Offer of Employment to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Some employers may be exempt from paying the employer compliance fee under subsections R303.1(5) and R303.2(2). However, despite the fee exemption, these employers must submit an Offer of Employment.

A work permit application will be refused under paragraph R200(3)(f.1) if the employer

  • has not paid the employer compliance fee, as per section R303.1, unless the employer has been exempted from paying the fee under subsection R303.1(5) or R303.2(2); or
  • has not submitted an Offer of Employment, as per section R209.11.

A refund of the employer compliance fee may be initiated if

  • the work permit application is refused; or
  • the employer withdraws their offer of employment in writing prior to the issuance of the work permit and the work permit application is therefore refused.

Applicants destined to Quebec

Foreign nationals destined to work in Quebec under paragraph R205(b) (LMIA exemption code C23) do not require a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ).

Work permit issuance in the Global Case Management System (GCMS) 

Under the Application screen, officers should enter the following:

  • Case Type: 52

Based on fields in the Offer of Employment, officers should enter the following under the Application screen:

  • Province of Destination: address of physical job location
    • If there is more than one location, officers should enter the primary location in the Province of Destination field and the secondary location in the Remarks field.
  • City of Destination: address of physical job location
    • If there is more than one location, officers should enter the primary location in the City of Destination field and the secondary location in the Remarks field.
  • Exemption Code: C23
  • NOC: National Occupational Classification code
  • Intended Occupation: job title
  • Salary: “amount per year” as indicated wage in Canadian dollars and number of work hours
  • Employer: business operating name

Note: The employer is subject to regulatory imposed conditions based on the information provided in the Offer of Employment. Therefore, any corrections to the information in the form must come from the employer.

Specifically, if the employer has made an error in the Offer of Employment, officers should not correct the information in GCMS. Instead, they may

  • refuse the application based on the foreign national not meeting the eligibility requirements, if applicable; or
  • contact the employer and instruct them to submit a new Offer of Employment.

Work permit duration

Officers may issue an LMIA-exempt work permit that is valid for the duration of the intended employment or until the expiry of the travel document, whichever is earlier. If there is no end date to the duration of the intended employment, officers may issue a work permit that is valid for up to two years or until the expiry of the travel document, whichever is earlier.

For more information on duration, consult

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