Thursday, September 5, 2013

Temporary Foreign Workers Fee Clarification: It Pays To Be In The Union

Date: September 4, 2013

To: All Local Officers and Members


From: Alan Willaert, Vice President from Canada, AFM

While the entire Canadian music industry is, by now, very aware of the processing fee implemented by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) for the Labour Market Opinion (LMO), this communication is intended to clarify some misunderstandings based on the write-ups we've seen on the matter.

Here are the facts:

If you did not require an LMO before, you do not require an LMO now and the processing fee does not affect you.

The Labour Market Opinion (LMO) application form has changed and been revised to include a processing fee of $275 per foreign worker. This is the ONLY change in the process for a temporary foreign worker/performer.

This change in the LMO process in NO WAY affects U.S. AFM members. Therefore, it is status quo for U.S. AFM members who are performing in bars or restaurants, which are not work permit exempt. These members still require a work permit BUT are LMO exempt. The work permit fee is still $150 for a single musician or $450 for groups of 3-14. AFM members must present a cultural exchange letter from the Canadian office, along with their Canadian contracts, upon entry into Canada. See this link for the application forms and a checklist: http://tiny.cc/5how2w

Also, this change in the LMO processing fee in NO WAY affects recognized entertainment venues such as festivals and music conferences/award shows (which are considered exempt), as well as travelling entourages of 15+ workers [musicians, crew, tour manager and all supplemental positions] which are work permit exempt.

There is a difference between the following: Labour Market Opinion, Temporary Work Permit and visas.

Temporary Work Permit: This is required whenever a musician is working in a bar,restaurant or nightclub (NON-EXEMPT venues). This is paid for at the border. The fee for a work permit is $150 per person or $450 per band of 3 members or more who enter at the same port and at the same time. If a musician/band is playing at a theatre, community hall, church, or festival, then they do not require a work permit as these venues are EXEMPT. A Temporary Work Permit is valid for 90 days at a time [so up to a 3 month tour], except in some cases where there is only one engager (such as a symphony orchestra) and the work engagement is for the whole season. In this type of situation, an LMO is required.

Labour Market Opinion Application form (LMO): This is an HRSDC form that is completed by the Canadian employer/purchaser/promoter who is bringing the foreign act into Canada to work temporarily at a non-exempt venue (bar/restaurant/nightclub). The fee for the processing of the LMO is $275 per foreign artist. If the band is touring Canada and has many non-exempt venues, this LMO and processing fee must be submitted to the HRSDC office nearest the first performance site. The LMO fee cannot be passed through to the foreign worker. The requirement for such engagers to file an LMO is not new; the only change is that a fee is now being charged.

To see if you require a work permit or an LMO for your performances, click link below for the Citizenship and Immigration Canada Foreign Worker Manual and see the chart in Section 5:8 (page 33 and 34): http://tiny.cc/9jow2w

Visa: See if you require a visa to enter Canada. Even if you are working at an exempt venue, you still may be required to obtain a visa to enter Canada. If a foreign entertainer comes from a country that is on Canada's list of countries whose citizens require a visa to enter Canada, he or she will be required to procure one. See this link to determine if you will require a visa to enter Canada: http://tiny.cc/5kow2w

There was consultation by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) with recognized stakeholders, the Canadian Labour Congress and its members being a group of those stakeholders. The small business [venue] owner was most definitely not a target of CIC. It was poor hiring practices of those in major business who were the primary cause for these changes [1.4 million Canadians are unemployed, with a trend of 75% of new jobs being given to temporary foreign workers]. In the entertainment world in 2012, 6000 Canadian actors lost jobs to foreign workers who were not accredited actors.

It is true that these changes were implemented to ensure more jobs for Canadians [labour and entertainment] and better scrutiny in clearing temporary foreign workers by at least a couple of the provincial HRSDC offices across Canada who seemed to rubber stamp LMO applications without much scrutiny.

The other reason for the new fee is so that Canadian taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the processing of foreign worker applications for workers who are potentially taking jobs away from them. The same reasoning in regard to temporary foreign workers has been provided by U.S. immigration departments, as well as those of other countries.

We do not anticipate an impact on foreign entertainers. As outlined above, there are still exempt venues that would be able to offer performance opportunities to overseas musicians.

We hope this clears up the errors in understanding that are out there, and we are more than happy to address any concerns anyone may still have.

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