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Cross-Border Canadian Visa Options for Filmmakers and Other Artists


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Presented at Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) 2017: BORDER PATROL by Immigration Lawyer Evelyn Ackah, Ackah Business Immigration Law and Canadian Counsel for D’Alessio Law Group; with co-presenters Lorraine D’Alessio of D’Alessio Law Group and Elliott Anderson of Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) :

With NAFTA under negotiation, US and Canadian producers face new challenges. How do politics impact our industry, productions, and sustainability? This in–depth philosophical and practical session focuses on immigration law, freedom of movement, and the legal implications for co–ventures for US/Canada productions under the new US Administration. Border Patrol informs filmmakers how best to prepare their productions and team amidst political uncertainty.

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Cross-Border Canadian Visa Options for Filmmakers and Other Artists

  1. 1. GDL A W How to Navigate a Successful 
 Cross Border Co-VENTURE: Visas & Beyond
  2. 2. Presented by: Attorneys Lorraine D’Alessio and Evelyn Ackah
 Toronto - Los Angeles - San Francisco - Miami - London - Sydney GDL A W
  3. 3. ● An international law firm practicing in the areas of global immigration and entertainment law ● DLG offers expertise to artists and entertainment industry professionals who seek temporary and permanent immigration to the United States, Canada, Australia and the U.K., as well as production and talent agreements ● Our founder, Lorraine D’Alessio, and many of our key staff members have been through the U.S. immigration process, and have worked in entertainment ● Tailor-made representation with a focus on excellent client service and individualized strategy and attention GDL A W introduction
  4. 4. GDL A W ● Do your due diligence on the partners you will be working with abroad ● Take a strategic approach to international partnerships ● Citizens from different countries have different negotiating styles, know who you’re talking to ● Find the right partners to take advantages of tax incentives (it can be complicated) ● Understand Work Authorization requirements What do I need to know about cross-border productions?
  5. 5. GDL A W Canadian Visa Options for Filmmakers and Other Artists
  6. 6. GDL A W Most Canadian employment visas require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (“LMIA”), which requires several months to process. Labour Market Impact Assessment
  7. 7. GDL A W However, there are many EXEMPTIONS that exempt certain artists, professionals, and other workers from this requirement. All categories on the LMIA exemption list still require the individual to obtain a work permit to legally work in Canada. Labour Market Impact Assessment
  8. 8. GDL A W EXEMPTIONS FOR FILM/TV INDUSTRY WORKERS - C14 International Mobility Program: Canadian interests - Significant benefit - Television and Film Production Workers [R205(a)] (exemption code C14) 
 ● Foreign nationals in the television (TV) and film industry whose position or occupation is essential to a TV or film production are eligible for an exemption from the (LMIA) requirement ● Generally, these positions are high wage and unionized LMIA Exemptions
  9. 9. GDL A W EXEMPTIONS FOR FILM/TV INDUSTRY WORKERS - C14 International Mobility Program: Canadian interests - Significant benefit - Television and Film Production Workers [R205(a)] (exemption code C14) 
 ● Requirements: ○ Letter of support from production outlining specific terms and benefit to Canada ○ Union letter LMIA Exemptions
  10. 10. GDL A W EXEMPTIONS FOR FILM/TV INDUSTRY WORKERS - T11 Foreign workers entering Canada to take up employment under the terms of an audiovisual coproduction treaty between Canada and any foreign country do not require an LMIA when applying for their work permit. LMIA Exemptions
  11. 11. GDL A W LMIA Required ● Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) ● Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) allows employers to hire temporary foreign workers (TFWs) to fill temporary labour and skill shortages. The permit process is subject to approval through a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). LMIA verifies that there is a need for a temporary worker and that qualified Canadians are available. The program is operated by the Ministry of Employment and Social Development Canada When is a LMIA required?
 PERFORMING ARTS ● Actors, artists, technicians, and film/tv/theatre and radio workers, adjudicators in a artistic field, buskers, circus performers, conductors, film co-producers, film producers employed by foreign companies, film and recording studio users, guest artists coming to perform on Canadian TV or radio, permanent positions in performing arts venues and WWE athletes. Working without a Permit
 BUSINESS VISITORS ● A business visitor is someone who comes to Canada to take part in international business activities without being part of the Canadian labour market. ● Business visitors usually stay in Canada for a few days or a few weeks but are able to stay for up to six months. Working without a Permit
  14. 14. GDL A W OTHER OPTIONS: ● C-20 Reciprocity for Co- Productions ● C-10 Significant Benefits
  15. 15. GDL A W US Visa Options for Filmmakers and Other Artists
  16. 16. GDL A W U.S. Immigration does not make it easy for Filmmakers and other Artists to work in the United States. As a general rule . . .
  17. 17. GDL A W ● O-1 - Extraordinary ability in Film/TV & Arts ● TN - Specialty Occupation for Canadian and Mexican Citizens (not many creative professions) ● E-1 & E-2 - Treaty Traders & Treaty Investors ● L-1 - Intracompany Transferees ● I - Journalists & Documentary Filmmakers ● B-1/B-2 Business Visitors & Tourists What U.S. Visa options should I consider?
  18. 18. GDL A W The O-1 is for various entertainers including Actors, Directors, Writers, Musicians, Voice Over Actors, Producers, and Creative and Technical Directors of all categories in Film and Television, and more. The O-1 is the most commonly used visa for artists & film/TV professionals. The O-1 Visa
  19. 19. GDL A W 1. Agent or Employer Petitioner
 2. United States Employment Offer
 3. Evidence that Artist is Extraordinary O-Visa: The 3 Necessities
  20. 20. GDL A W ● Commonly used to bring in Cast & Crew if someone on the production is an O-1 visa holder ● Must file a separate petition, but multiple people can be on a single O-2 visa application O2-Visas: Essential Support Personnel for O-1
  21. 21. GDL A W ● Only available to citizens of Canada and Mexico ● Profession must be listed on designated List of Professions ○ Creative professionals may qualify under Graphic Designer, Technical Writer, or Management Consultant ● May be impacted by changes to NAFTA TN Visas: NAFTA Treaty Visa
  22. 22. GDL A W • U.S. has a treaty with government of applicant • Applicant has invested, or is investing a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the U.S. OR is conducting trade with U.S. entity • Planning to come to the U.S. to work for the E1/E2 company E1 & E2 Visas: Treaty Traders & Investors
  23. 23. GDL A W ● Applicant has been working for foreign company for 1 year out of past 3 years ● Applicant has invested, or is investing a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the U.S. or is conducting trade with U.S. entity ● Majority ownership of foreign company & US company is the same ● Planning to come to the U.S. to work for the US branch/subsidiary L1: Intracompany Transferees
  24. 24. GDL A W ● Allows journalists working for foreign (non-US) news media to report/document events in the U.S. ● Requires press credential from foreign country + letter of employment from foreign employer ● Also allows documentary filmmakers who are working on productions which will be distributed abroad (outside US) to work in the U.S I Visa: Journalists & Documentarians
  25. 25. GDL A W ● Allowed to attend business meetings and seminars, and conduct research for projects ● NOT allowed to be paid by US company ● Most activities related to film/TV production require an employment visa, EVEN IF you are being paid outside the US B-1, B-2 Business Visitors and Tourists
  26. 26. GDL A W ● Applicants who apply from within the U.S. can start working in the U.S. upon approval ● Applicants who apply from abroad must first visit a U.S. Embassy and undergo an interview ● ONLY CANADIANS can just take the approval to the port of entry - Lucky!! After Your Approval
  27. 27. GDL A W ● Know what you’ll need to start a company in the U.S. (Don’t rely on the internet for legal advice) ● Understand how your immigration status may affect your ability to own & work for a company ● Due diligence and contracting parties Now that you’ve made it across the border - you must protect yourself
  28. 28. GDL A W (Continued) ● Is your company’s intellectual property protected in the United States? ● Who do you want to own it when all's said and done? ● Be cautious of giving all your rights aways! Now that you’ve made it across the border - you must protect yourself
  29. 29. GDL A W ● Extreme Vetting ○ Increased scrutiny at the border and U.S. Embassies and airports ○ Must report all travel to US for past 15 years - increased from 5 years ○ US Embassies and CBP officers at airports are checking social media for unauthorized employment or intent to work in the U.S ● US Immigration policy is changing VERY RAPIDLY and it is extremely important to consult with an attorney to create and execute a strategy Trends Under Trump
  30. 30. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation and allow us to create a personalized strategy that works for you. CAD +1 (647) 994-3934 US +1 (310) 909-3934 email: Thank You