Sports is one of the greatest means of social bonding across Canada. Canada’s sporting culture is represented through both amateur and professional sports, varying in ages from children to adults. Participation in sports promotes both a healthy and active lifestyle while encouraging social interaction. Foreign athletes and coaches have a large involvement in Canadian sports, and in Canada, 1 in every 5 coaching positions is conducted by an immigrant. 

The Canadian Government continues to recognize the economic benefits and opportunities associated with the popularity of the sporting industry across Canada. At both an amateur and professional scale, local economies continue to benefit from the sporting industry. 

Foreign athletes interested in playing sports in Canada fall under two main categories: 1) a foreign athlete represented by a foreign national team that will come to Canada to compete against a Canadian sports team, and 2) an athlete that wants to immigrate to Canada and work for a Canadian sports representative. 

A foreign worker generally will require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to obtain a work permit, as the application process is designed to ensure that a temporary foreign worker is not taking away a job from a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. This is not the case for foreign athletes, coaches and referees looking to work and live in Canada.

In support of the sporting industry across Canada, the government has established an LMIA exempt work permit program for athletes, coaches and referees that fall under the first category. In this case, as their employment is temporary, and the foreign worker is represented under a foreign team and/or country, an LMIA is not required. 

Under the second category, foreign athletes, coaches, and referees wishing to live and work in Canada can apply to immigrate through the Self-Employed Persons Program. Under this program, you can immigrate to Canada as a permanent resident as a self-employed applicant if you can demonstrate you have the required background to pursue activities in sport, you have the financial ability to remain self-employed, and that you can contribute to the athletic culture of sport in Canada.  

Demonstrating these three requirements under the Self-Employed Persons Program is a heavy feat and you will require a minimum of 35 points to be a considered applicant. You will also need to prove a minimum of a two-year relationship as a self-employed individual working in the sporting industry or as a world-class competitor. The more background proof you can provide, the more likely it is to gain additional points when applying. 

Before you set off on the journey to apply for immigration under this program, we recommend you book a consultation with Brace Law and their team of immigration lawyers. Brace Law’s team can work with you to ensure you are applying under the correct program, and that your application is complete with all required documents. When you work with Brace Law, you can Consider It Handled. 

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