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Guest Speakers in Canada

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International guest speakers at a Canadian event may be required to obtain a work permit, depending on the nature of the event.

The length of the speaking engagement can help determine if the person has to apply for a work visa. For periods of less than five days, the speaker is usually not required to obtain a work permit. Although there are exceptions, the concept is that these persons will not have a detrimental impact on the Canadian labor market and hence do not require legal authorization to work in Canada for a short period of time.

Foreign nationals who are teaching a course over several weeks or giving lectures for a lengthy period of time, on the other hand, must normally apply for a work visa before starting their work in Canada.

It’s vital to remember that the five-day limit only applies to days spent speaking at the event; if the speaking days aren’t consecutive, the individual may be able to complete his or her tasks without a work permit if the stay in Canada is longer than five days.

Another issue to consider when considering if a work visa is required is the nature and subject matter of the speaking engagement.

Academic guest lecturers at a university or college function, as well as celebrity speakers or speakers with a specific skill relevant to the event at which they are speaking, are normally free from the obligation to get a work permit.
The same can be true for commercial speakers who are advocating for a certain product or service, as long as they are not also selling the product or service during the event.

If the individual was going to give training to Canadians or conduct instructional courses in a specific sport, a work permit would be required.
These activities are deemed to constitute delivering a service to Canadians, and so their participation in them would be recognized as an entry into the labor market, necessitating the need for a work visa.

In the case of a guest speaker, determining whether or not a work permit is required is not always straightforward. There are several grey areas when it comes to the nature of the event, the topic to be discussed, and the speaker’s qualifications.
There are certain exceptions to the five-day time limit, thus the length of the speaking engagement isn’t usually the deciding issue. Even if a work permit is unmistakably required, the path forward may be obscure. A streamlined work permit application process may be offered depending on the conditions.

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