What is Canada’s Self-Employed Program


Are you self-employed? This does not always mean you have to own and operate a company or own shares in a business. Self-employed individuals can also use their talents to earn a living just like an author or an athlete. If you’re self-employed and enjoy the flexibility and freedom of your craft but looking for a change in the scenery, then Canada may just be the right place for you.    

Canada’s Self-Employed Program is specially designed for self-employed persons in athletics, arts, and culture to immigrate to Canada and continue to work for themselves in one of the largest and most stable economies worldwide. Learn more about this exciting business immigration program in Canada below. 

What is Canada’s Self-Employed Program?

The Self-Employed Program is a business immigration pathway that aims to attract self-employed foreign nationals such as artists, musicians, and athletes who have the intention and ability to continue working for themselves in Canada. The cultural and sports industries are a significant contributor to Canada’s economic growth and contributed $53 billion and $4.5 billion to Canada’s GDP in 2010.

Who Can Apply for Canada’s Self-Employed Program?

There are a wide variety of jobs that qualify under cultural and sporting activities. From freelance journalists and painters to those working behind the scenes like set designers, boom operators, and choreographers. Take a look at more examples below. 

  • authors and writers;
  • creative and performing artists;
  • musicians;
  • painters;
  • sculptors and other visual artists;
  • technical support and other jobs in motion pictures;
  • creative designers;
  • craftspeople;
  • athletes;
  • coaches;
  • sports officials and referees; and
  • program leaders and instructors in recreation, sport, and fitness.

How Do I Qualify for the Self-Employed Program?

Candidates interested in Canada’s Self-Employed Program must have taken part in cultural activities or athletics at a world-class level or been self-employed for at least two years. The program has five selection criteria used to score and rate your eligibility. The selection criteria take the following into consideration: your age, level of education, years of work experience, of which the minimum is two years of self-employment, language ability, and adaptability. You must score a minimum of at least 35 points to be considered for this business immigration program. 

Candidates must also be able to contribute to what the Canadian government calls the “enrichment of Canadian culture and sport” and make “a significant contribution to specific economic activities” in the country. The significance of a candidate’s contribution is relative, and the definition of “significant contribution” is left to the discretion of the Canadian visa officer who will process your application. Don’t let this stop you from applying though, as it is not intended to scare off qualified self-employed persons who are applying in good faith but rather to “bar frivolous applications”.      

For example, a music teacher can make a significant contribution in a small town at the local level, and a freelance journalist writing for a Canadian newspaper will also meet the requirements. 

For more information about Canada’s Self-Employed Program and how to apply, click here.  

How Long Does Business Immigration to Canada Take? 

The good news is that the Self-Employed Program has the most lenient requirements of all business immigration programs in Canada, but the bad news is that it has the longest application processing times.

It now takes approximately 23 months to process Self-Employed Program applications, but this is a major improvement over the seven years it took a few years ago! The application processing fee is $2,075 and includes your right of permanent residence fee of $500.

Working in Canada as a Self-Employed Person  

According to StatsCan, there were 2.9 million self-employed workers in Canada in 2018. The majority of them listed independence, more money, work-family balance, job satisfaction, and flexible hours as their top reasons for choosing to be their own boss. Canada was rated as the best country in 2021 for qualities such as a high standard of living and economic opportunities.      

While Canada plans on welcoming 410,000 newcomers in 2021, only 1,250 of these spots are allocated for business immigration candidates. Ensure your application is fully optimized for success with the professional help of certified immigration consultants. Visit CanadianVisa.org for more information about the visa application process.  



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