Work in Canada without a Permit, Legally!

Thomas is an Australian vocalist and actor. He has appeared on many live musicals in Australia, Japan, and Malaysia. He currently performs as the lead actor for a musical that will tour Europe and North America. As part of their tour, they will perform in four Canadian cities of Calgary, Halifax, Thunder Bay, and Winnipeg. Thomas will stay in Canada for about four weeks while they travel from one city to the other.  The Australian company will take care of his salary, accommodation, and transportation. Thomas is wondering if he needs to get a work permit to be able to perform in Canada.

A foreign national who intends to work in Canada usually needs a work permit, but under certain circumstances, foreign workers may be exempt from work permits.

Who Could Work in Canada without a Work Permit?

Section 186 of IRPR lists all potential options for working in Canada without a work permit. The following list loosely shows those options.

  1. Business visitors
  2. Foreign diplomats or employees of foreign governments if approved by Global Affairs Canada
  3. The family members of the group (ii)
  4. Members of visiting armed forces
  5. Officers of foreign countries exchanged with Canadians to work for the federal or provincial governments of Canada
  6. Maritime law enforcement officers of the United States
  7. In-flight security officers
  8. Performing artists as solo performers or members of larger groups
  9. Key members of performing arts groups
  10. Participants of sports activities or events
  11. Journalists
  12. Speakers such as keynote speakers or paid speakers
  13. Organizers of certain conventions or events
  14. Certain spiritual leaders or workers
  15. Judges of sports competitions or artistic events
  16. Evaluators or examiners of research proposals or academic projects, etc.
  17. Expert witnesses for courts or the governments
  18. Certain healthcare students
  19. Aviation inspectors
  20. Aviation incidents investigators
  21. Flight crews
  22. Emergency personnel to deal with disasters
  23. Post-secondary international students, studying at designated learning institutions, if they work 20 hours or less per week
  24. International students who have completed their studies and have applied for a Post-graduate Work Permit (PGWP), but they have not received a decision on their work permit yet

This list does not show the conditions attached to each group. You may consult with an immigration professional for more information. Generally speaking, consider the following:

  • The work must be limited to the nature of exemption. For example, healthcare students will work at a hospital or healthcare centre for the purpose of enhancing their skills.
  • There might be time limitations. For example, the event a speaker attends needs to be five days or less.
  • The source of remuneration in many cases is a foreign entity. For example, performing artists are paid by their foreign employer in most cases (exceptions apply).

What does the Foreign National Need to Enter Canada?

The regular rules of entering Canada applies to these foreign nationals. For example, if they are from a visa exempt country, they usually need to apply for an eTA (the US citizens are exempt from eTA). If they need a visa then they have to apply for a TRV. If they are inadmissible to Canada they need to apply for a TRP, Rehabilitation, or an Authorization to Return to Canada (ARC), depending on the issues surrounding their inadmissibility.

When you are applying for entry, make sure to present enough documentation to show the reason you intend to visit Canada and why you are exempt from a work permit.

If you wish to visit or move to Canada or if you have encountered any issues with the immigration authorities, you may fill out our free assessment form or book a consultation session to assess your potential opportunities or offer you immigration, visa, or citizenship advice.

Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting

This article provides information of a general nature only. It may no longer be current. It does not give legal advice nor should you rely on it as legal advice. If you have specific legal questions, you should consult a lawyer. If you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment. All the characters in the articles are fictional, unless otherwise clearly stated. Any resemblance in names, dates, and places (whether individuals, organizations, regions, or countries) is coincidental.

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Al Parsai

This article has been expertly crafted by Al Parsai, a distinguished Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) hailing from vibrant Toronto, Canada. Al's academic achievements include an esteemed role as an adjunct professor at prestigious Queen's University Law School and Ashton College, as well as a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University. A respected member of CICC and CAPIC organizations, Al's insights are further enriched by his experience as the dynamic CEO of Parsai Immigration Services. Guiding thousands of applicants from over 55 countries through the immigration process since 2011, Al's articles offer a wealth of invaluable knowledge for readers.