Welcome Talents to Canada: The Self-employed Person
The Self-employed Person program is designed for immigrants who have relevant self-employed experience in cultural or athletic activities.
The program allows people to apply for Permanent Residence outside of the province of Quebec, as Quebec has their own program, the Self-Employed Worker Program. Several occupations are eligible for this program including translators, journalists, authors and writers, public relations professionals, graphic designers, artists, designers, technical support and other jobs in motion pictures, craftspeople, photographers, painters, musicians, actors, sports coaches, athletes and more.
In today’s “gig economy” and now due to the pandemic creating a necessity for many individuals to pivot in their career thereby choosing self-employment, this program will appeal to those who are freelancers or business owners. According to Statistics Canada, business ownership and self-employment rates in Canada are generally higher among immigrants as compared to their Canadian born counterparts. Interestingly, Canadian-born persons with immigrant parents have higher business ownership rates than their Canadian born counterparts with Canadian born parents*. Although there are several reasons for this, it is safe to say that many newcomers to Canada are innovative, have a higher risk tolerance, and are entrepreneurial in spirit. Canada welcomes people with unique talents through this program.
This program is considered attractive to many foreign nationals as there is no minimum net worth requirement and age is not as significant of a factor as compared to other immigration programs such as Express Entry where age points start to decrease after age 29. The self-employed person program uses a points based grid system with several factors considered and age points only start to decrease after age 49, with the maximum 10 points being given to those aged 21-49. The program’s selection factors place a majority of emphasis on experience, education and language abilities. Adaptability points consider you and your accompanying spouse or common-law partner’s previous work experience or studies in Canada, relatives in Canada, and a spouse or common-law partner’s level of education.
To be eligible for this program, you must intend and be able to become self-employed in Canada in the arts or athletics. You must have relevant experience, meet the selection criteria as well as medical, security and other conditions. The selection grid is designed to determine whether or not you can make a significant economic contribution to Canada, and you must score at least 35 points out of 100 to be eligible.
For relevant experience, you must have at least two years of experience during the period starting 5 years before the day you apply and ending on the day IRCC makes a decision on your application. More years of experience can result in more points.
For experience in cultural activities, you must have at least 2 years of experience self-employed in cultural activities, or 2 years of experience participating at a world-class level in cultural activities, or a combination of 1-year's experience as self-employed in cultural activities and 1-year of experience participating at the world class level.
Similarly, for experience in athletics, you must have minimum 2 years of experience self-employed in athletics, or 2 years of experience participating at a world class level in athletics, or a combination of 1-year’s experience being self-employed in athletics and 1-year’s experience participating at the world class level in athletics.
The selection criteria is based on several factors including:
• language abilities; and
in English and/or French
Candidates are selected based on the supporting documents provided, the score under the selection criteria and actually meeting the definition of a self-employed person. According to IRPR s88(1) “self-employed person means a foreign national who has relevant experience and has the intention and ability to be self-employed in Canada and to make a significant contribution to specified economic activities in Canada.” Outside of the regulations, the definition of self-employment is usually defined as someone who works for themselves, independently, does not have anyone overseeing their work, and normally are free to work when and for whom they want to provide their services to.
At first glance, this may seem easy to prove; however, it is important to demonstrate that you meet these factors, and it can help improve eligibility if you can prove that you have publicly recognized accomplishments and a solid business plan with enough funds to support your plan. Furthermore, you should demonstrate that you have the ability and willingness to execute your business plan after arriving in Canada. Additionally, to demonstrate the "ability to be self-employed in Canada" your business plan should be realistic and well thought out. An interview may also be required.
A visa officer will use their own judgement and make the final decision on your application. Furthermore, their assessment may be different than your statement of your qualifications. An officer will only award points based on their assessment and interpretation of your qualifications.
What is Meant by a Significant Contribution?
Although there is no formal definition of “significant contribution”, it does not necessarily mean that your work needs to be at a world-renowned level, even contributing at less than a national standard may still be significant at the local level, thereby contributing significantly to a smaller community in Canada. Although your intended self-employment must contribute to economic activities in Canada, this does not mean you cannot contribute to some activities outside of Canada. It is important to do your research, potentially be innovative in your approach, and compile sufficient documentation to support your application.
Medical, Security and Financial Requirements
Before you come to Canada, you must complete a medical exam. Your family members must also complete a medical exam even if they are not coming with you. Your application will not be accepted if it is determined that your health is a danger to Canada’s public health or safety, or causes excessive demand on Canada’s health or social services.
In regards to police certificates, you and any family members aged 18 or over must provide police certificates. You may not be allowed to enter Canada if you have a criminal record or pose a risk to Canada’s security.
Although there is no net worth requirement like other business immigration programs, you must show that you have enough money to settle in Canada covering you and your family members, as well as to finance any of the work to establish your business plan once you arrive in Canada.
If more documents are needed to support your application, the office that processes your application will contact you for more information or to schedule an interview.
Permanent Residence Status and Confirmation
If your application is approved, the visa office will request your passport(s) in order to issue a permanent resident visa, which includes your Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) and entry visa. The document has your information and photograph and you must have the COPR and visa when you arrive in Canada. Always review immigration documents and ensure all the information is correct and matches the information on your passport. Contact your visa office if you see a mistake.
Overall, the Self-employed Person program is a great opportunity for those with a unique skill set and relevant experience who wish to come to Canada as a Permanent Resident and make a significant contribution to economic activities in Canada. With no minimum net-worth requirement and age points less of a factor, this can be a very attractive program to many.
* Immigrant Entrepreneurs in Canada: Highlights from recent studies by Garnett Picot and Yuri Ostrovsky, https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/36-28-0001/2021009/article/00001-eng.pdf