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VFX Industry News & Information => General Industry Information => Topic started by: Jill Pearson on December 11, 2008, 10:16:59 PM

Title: Working in VFX in Canada - for international artists
Post by: Jill Pearson on December 11, 2008, 10:16:59 PM
Here are some notes from my previous experience in dealing with Work Permits for Canada:

There are many foreign workers in the visual effects industry in Canada. It is known to be an in-demand field, especially for mid-to-senior level artists. We strive to have the artists graduating from Lost Boys hired into at least a mid-level job, making the Work Permit process easier for the company.

In Canada you will usually be issued a Work Visa for 1 year or less. You can renew the Work Visa in one-year increments without leaving Canada as long as you apply in advance. If you end up "in between jobs" you can apply for a Visitor Visa before your Work Visa runs out.

With a Work Permit, the point system is not used (that is for Immigration). It is up to the company to ensure that the employee fits the job qualifications as posted and that they tried to search for a Canadian worker. Most companies write the job description to closely match the worker they want to hire.

Of our five previous students working in Canada on Study Permits, three applied for the Information Technology worker category (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/work/special-tech.asp), which meant they had previous work experience in a related field of at least two years, previous education and certain software requirements. The benefit to this category is that the company hiring does not have to apply for a Labour Market Opinion, a process which can take extra time and resources and they check the ratio of foreign workers vs. Canadians that are on staff - the limit is supposed to be about 10%. Any company with not too many foreign workers shouldn't have a problem with the regular Work Permit process.

A tip, before you leave home to study in either Canada or the US, make sure you get letters of reference showing the time you worked from your employers, then you won't need to search for them a year or two down the road when it comes time to apply for the Work Permit.

I should add that it can be useful to acquire a US Visitor Visa, if you need one from your country, before you arrive in Canada, in case you decide to go from Canada to the US.

Title: Re: Working in VFX in Canada - for international artists
Post by: thunderstorm on January 04, 2009, 08:51:57 AM
this is nice to know
but i have a question.
what about if i was working as a freelance artist for last few years.
i'm planning to migrate to Canada. any suggestion.


Title: Re: Working in VFX in Canada - for international artists
Post by: Jill Pearson on January 05, 2009, 07:29:50 PM
Hi thunderstorm,

If you want to immigrate to Canada as a freelancer (in other words, continue working freelance here, rather than finding a position) there is a self-employed immigration class, specifically for "cultural or athletic" categories.  The minimum is 2 years of experience.  


But as long as you have experience and a portfolio, you can still apply for jobs in Canada that require a work permit, then work out the immigration details once you get here.  Some provinces in Canada have a fast-track immigration application called "Provincial Nominee" but you have to apply through a company.  Here's the info for the BC program.   We sponsored an animation director when we were operating our studio in Vancouver some years ago.


Otherwise, you just apply for the Canadian Experience Class (if you've been here for a year) or the Skilled Workers class, if applicable.

Hope it works out, let me know if you have any more questions.  


Title: Re: Working in VFX in Canada - for international artists
Post by: Kernowkid on August 25, 2010, 06:50:35 AM

I'm just starting to take the first steps to moving to Vancouver from the UK. The self-employed visa seems to be the one that fits due to vfx work seems to be self employed in Vancouver but when looking through the qualifying list of jobs, there's nothing that alludes to vfx let alone a film compositor (me). I do, however, find jobs like 'paste-up artists' that kind of went out with the introduction computers in publishing 25 years ago. Leads me to think that the qualifying jobs list has not been updated for a long time and best to ignore.

My questions:
Is the self employed visa the best route?
Has anyone who has done this any pearls of wisdom to offer?
Is it more common to go through the Provincial Nominee route?

An expansion on Gillian's comment '...then work out the immigration details once you get here' would be good. Does this mean it's easier to obtain a visa if already in the country with a job offer?

Does anyone have any thoughts about the withdrawal of the Information Technology temporary visa and how this will the industry in Vancouver?

Thanks in advance for any advise + comments.


Title: Re: Working in VFX in Canada - for international artists
Post by: Jill Pearson on September 07, 2010, 02:56:26 AM
Hey K, sorry for the late reply - we've been on break the last few weeks. 

There was an article about the end of the Information Tech. permit awhile ago, you probably saw it already:

We spoke with a few studios in Vancouver, and they all claimed they would just keep trying with the regular permit (getting the LMO or labour market opinion) and whatever other options.  The IT permit ends in a few weeks so it will be interesting to see what happens... and a bit scary.  I think a group of digital media and film-related stakeholders will get together and work with the provincial government to work out a new arrangement -- at least that is what was hinted at in the Vancouver Sun article quoted in my article linked above. 

The freelance category could work - the NOC code that is applicable to what we're doing is typically 5241 Graphic Designers, which does qualify. 

If you come from a country where residents are required to acquire a Visitor Visa prior to coming to Canada, and you then get a job offer when you're here, you've completed half the battle to getting the work visa as you then apply for a "Change to Terms and Conditions" rather than a whole new visa, with any medical or fingerprint requirements.  But the company still has to get the LMO. 

I wish it were easier!  As soon as I hear anything I will post in this forum.



Title: Re: Working in VFX in Canada - for international artists
Post by: Kernowkid on September 16, 2010, 06:57:27 PM
Hi Gillian,
Just got back from my hols myself.
Thanks for your reply. I think I'll put a visa application in and keep an eye on the situation.

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