Self-employed persons have the possibility of acquiring Canadian permanent residents, based on their work experience, and their intention to continue working for themselves.
Canada’s Federal Self-Employed Persons Program allows qualified persons who have relevant experience and skills in arts and culture, athletics to apply for Canadian permanent residence.
The program is targetted at a wide range of foreign nationals working in the arts and sports such as painters, music teachers, illustrators, freelance journalists, filmmakers, or athletes. It also includes those working behind the scenes like set designers, choreographers, coaches and trainers.
Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) assess candidates for the program based on their intent, experience, and ability to create their own job in Canada.
Candidates must show that they have at least two years of relevant work experience, either (a) by taking part in “sporting or cultural activities at an international level”, which means that they are internationally recognized or perform at the top level in their discipline; or (b) by being self-employed in the field of sporting or cultural activities.
Applicants must also be able to contribute to what the government calls the “enrichment of Canadian culture and sport” and make “a notable contribution to specific economic activities” in the country.
A music teacher or instructor destined for a small town may be considered to be of local importance, as may a freelance journalist or web content writer writing for a Canadian publication, both of which are cited by the federal government as examples of what a significant contribution can be.
The extent of the contribution may be, however, determined and left to the discretion of the visa officer processing the person’s file.
To stand a chance for immigration as a self-employed person, interested persons must also meet or surpass a minimum score under the program’s selection criteria.
Canada’s Federal Self-Employed Program is an excellent choice for many people who may not be eligible for some economic immigration programs and whose type of occupation or employment status may be limiting their Canadian immigration options.
There are some immigration programs in Canada that do not take into consideration self-employment as part of the minimum work experience requirements. Such is the case, for example, of the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). CEC is one of three main federal programs managed via the Express Entry application system and one that ranks individuals for immigration to Canada against each other on a point scale.
Candidates are allotted points for various factors, such as age, skilled work experience, education, and proficiency in English or French.
Acquiring points for Canadian work experience in specific occupations can be a major factor in determining whether a candidate’s score is good enough to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Canadian permanent residence.
While longer processing times under Canada’s federal self-employed program could have been a discouraging factor in the past, this has now stopped.
Last year, Canada’s immigration department provided an update on the situation, and the federal government now reports processing times of twenty-three (23) months— a major improvement over the seven (7) years it took a few years ago.
People interested in immigrating to Quebec province should be aware that the province has a separate selection system for self-employed persons.