Foreign Nationals Require a Work Permit to Film in Canada
From March 2016, foreign nationals entering Canada to film a movie, commercial, television or radio broadcast require a work permit. This rule applies regardless of whether a production is foreign or Canadian, is funded entirely or partly from abroad and whether it is filmed entirely or in part in Canada.
Before a Canadian work permit can be filed with Citizenship & Immigration Canada, an application must be submitted to the applicable Canadian labour board to obtain an advisory opinion.
The labour board typically take ten business days to issue their opinion. If the production crew are from visa exempt countries such as the United Kingdom they may then prepare work permit applications and submit them upon arrival at a Canadian port of entry.
Timing a Canadian Work Permit Application
The most important consideration when it comes to planning Canadian work permit applications for individuals in the film and TV industries is timing. There is rarely enough time. Productions often identify key members late in their planning and contracts may not be signed until the very last minute.
Given the multiple steps that need to be completed before a Canadian work permit can be issued, including the drafting of the application to the labour board, preparation and submission of visa applications, scheduling visa appointments and arranging for the necessary endorsement of passports, lawyers often require more time than is available to them. This is often the most challenging aspect of getting visas to film in Canada.
For this reason it is important to plan ahead as much as possible and preferably contact Sterling Immigration 30 days in advance of travelling to film in Canada.