Self-Employed Visa Canada

A vast majority of Canada’s immigrants enter the country through two immigration programs- Express Entry and Provincial Nomination Program.

As you may have already noticed, these immigration programs place a high premium on applicants with the right education and job experience. As a result, many applicants for permanent residence in Canada beef up their profiles with more proof of work experience and skill training.

With so much said about how Canada needs skilled workers, the idea of immigrating as an artist, athlete, freelancer, or musician seems far-fetched. Luckily, if there is one thing the variety of immigration programs in Canada have proven, it is this:

There is more than one way to be a permanent resident of Canada.

Canadian immigration is possible also for the self-employed. Aware of the significant contributions self-employed immigrants may be able to make, the IRCC allows athletes, musicians, freelancers, and cultural workers to come to Canada through the Self-Employed Persons Program.

Successful candidates of the Self-Employed Persons Program will get a Self-Employed Visa. This allows a candidate to be a permanent resident and stay in Canada as a self-employed athlete, musician, artist, or cultural worker.

The Self-Employed Persons Immigration Program

The Self-Employed Persons program was created by the government of Canada. It was created as a way to promote and enrich Canadian arts, culture, and athletics. As well, the presence of self-employed persons in Canada is deemed to make a significant contribution to Canada’s economy.

The program is also classified as one of the Canadian government’s non-PNP programs for business immigration.

The Self-Employed Persons Program allows candidates with relevant experience in athletics, arts, business, and culture and to come to Canada as permanent residents. Since newcomers under this program arrive in Canada as self-employed persons, the application for the program rarely (if ever) requires a valid job offer.

Other requirements for this program are the same as other visa programs in Canada. Selection is still points-based, like in the Express Entry system.

Eligibility Requirements

To apply for a Self-Employed Visa for Canada, an applicant needs to meet the minimum eligibility requirements. Meeting the minimum requirements entitles a candidate to apply for the visa. It is not a guarantee that the applicant will get the visa.

Relevant Experience


For the Self-Employed Visa program, relevant experience is different from what it is in other Canadian visa programs for skilled immigration.

Experience for a self-employed person becomes relevant if it meets the following conditions:

  • The experience must involve athletic, artistic, and cultural activities.
  • The applicant must have at least two years of experience in any of the said activities.
  • The experience must have been a source of income for the applicant.

Alternatively, there is another for the experience to be considered relevant for the Self-Employed Visa program. The candidate must have participated in the artistic, athletic, or cultural activity at a world-class level.

Meeting The Selection Criteria

Applicants are selected based on the following selection criteria:

  • Education
  • Experience
  • Age
  • Language
  • Adaptability
  • Age

Each one is worth a certain number of points. The perfect score a candidate could get is 100 points and the passing mark at the time of writing is 35 points.

The minimum requirement for education is a high school diploma or its equivalent in Canada. For language, the IRCC does not set a minimum. Be that as it may, applicants are encouraged to score at least CLB 7 to score perfectly for language.

As mentioned earlier, relevant experience should be at least two years. Of course, a candidate could score more points if the experience is longer than two years.

While there is no age requirement to apply, the highest points are scored for applicants aged 16 to 49 years of age. No points are awarded for those aged 16 years and below. As well, applicants over the age of 54 years will receive no points for age.

Admissibility Into Canada

Applicants also need to be admissible into Canada for permanent residence. To prove admissibility, candidates need to include police clearance certificates and medical examination reports on their application.

Medical examinations for Canadian immigration can be performed only by IRCC-authorized panel physicians.

Additional Requirements For The Quebec Self-Employed Program

Quebec has its own system for selecting self-employed persons. For this reason, to become self-employed in Quebec, there are other requirements on top of the three just mentioned.

First, a candidate is expected to deposit 50,000.00 CAD if he or she plans to go to Montreal. This is the minimum investment for a start-up in Montreal. Outside Montreal, the minimum required deposit is lower at 25,000.00 CAD.


A candidate needs to prove financial self-sufficiency and have a net worth of at least 100,000.00 CAD. As well, applicants who are fluent in French would likely score more points in language.

For more information on Quebec’s Self-Employed Program, visit the Quebec government page for immigration.

How To Apply For A Self-Employed Visa

Currently, there is no way to apply for Canada’s Self-Employed Persons program online. Only a paper-based application is possible at this time.

Here are the steps:

Step 1: Download And Print The Application Package

The application package consists of two downloadable PDF files. Both could be downloaded from the IRCC’s site.

The first document is the application form for Canadian immigration. It is the same application form for many other permanent residence applications except Express Entry. After downloading the application form, the applicant may fill-up the form on a computer. The completed form must be printed afterwards.

The second document is the document checklist. It is a list of documents that need to be included in the visa application. This must also be printed by the applicant.

All documents in the checklist need to be included in the application.

Step 2: Pay The Necessary Fees

The following are the fees that need to be paid:

  • Biometrics fee: 85.00 CAD per person
  • Self-Employed Visa Processing Fee: 1,575.00 CAD
  • Right of Permanent Residence Fee: 500.00 CAD

All fees needed to immigrate to Canada are paid online. For this reason, an applicant must use a valid debit or credit card to make a payment even if the application is paper-based.

Of course, there may be other fees like those that cover:

Step 3: Go For Biometrics

A receipt and a biometrics instruction letter follow the payment of the biometrics fee. These must be kept for the application. Also, the biometrics instruction letter is proof of an appointment. It also contains information about the time and whereabouts of biometrics collection.

Step 4: Submit The Application

With the fees paid and all documents secured, an applicant may now mail the application.

The documents need to be enclosed in a 23 cm x 30.5 envelope. The envelope must be mailed to the IRCC.

Below is an example of what should be written on the envelope.


A self-employed person is viewed by Canada as an equally important resource, alongside skilled and business immigrants. Canada has observed that the self-employed can make a significant contribution to cultural activities or athletics in the country.

Recognizing this, the Canadian government has created ways for self-employed artists, musicians, athletes, cultural workers and business owners to immigrate to Canada. As permanent residents, these people can add to the cultural activities or athletics of Canada.

Choose Canada Magazine

Each member of our team at Choose Canada Magazine has been in Canada for over five years, and has helped dozens of people worldwide find their life in Canada.

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