Home » Canada » An Expat Guide To Self-Employment In Canada

An Expat Guide To Self-Employment In Canada

The second largest country in the world, Canada is bordered by three oceans: the Arctic Ocean in the north, the Atlantic Ocean in the east and the Pacific Ocean in the west. Canada also shares borders with the United States in the northwest and south.

Canada is a land with varied landscapes. It has regions with tall mountains, various types of forests, arctic tundra where the land is permanently frozen, and prairie grasslands. There are also a number of lakes and rivers across the Canadian territory.The capital city of Canada is Ottawa, located on the Ottawa River. The country is divided into ten provinces and three territories, each of which has its own capital. The provinces and territories are categorized into five regions: the Atlantic Provinces of Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador; New Brunswick and Nova Scotia; the Prairie Provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba; Central Canada which is comprised of Ontario and Quebec; the North that includes Yukon Territory, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories; and the West Coast of British Columbia.
Much of the population is concentrated in southern Ontario and Quebec, Alberta and southwest British Columbia. The north is sparsely populated because of the cold weather.

Moving to Canada

Approximately 850,000 individuals visited Canada in November 2016. The most common way of gaining entry into the Canada is via temporary status, irrespective of whether you are applying for a visitor visa, student visa or work permit. The main factors that have a bearing on whether you are granted a visa are your country of citizenship, finances and travel history. Temporary visas have an end date and certain types of temporary visas can be renewed. Those who are able to obtain Canadian Permanent Residence can remain in the country for an indefinite period of time.

The Canadian Self-Employed Persons Program

A self-employed person is considered to be a foreign national who has relevant experience, intends to and has the ability to be self-employed in the country and is able to contribute to the country’s economy in any one of the required fields.

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The Canadian Self-Employed Persons Program is aimed at individuals who have relevant experience in cultural activities, farm management or athletics. They must also have the intention to, and be able to, establish a business that will generate employment for themselves. The applicants are also required to make considerable contribution to cultural activities or athletics, or purchase and take care of a farm in Canada.


An eligible self-employed individual must have relevant experience. They must also intend to stay self-employed in Canada. They must fulfill the selection criteria for self-employed people and meet medical, security and other conditions.

Relevant experience

Your experience is considered relevant if you have partaken in cultural activities or athletics at an international level, been self-employed in cultural activities or athletics, or have experience in farm management.

For a self-employed individual, relevant experience is considered to be a minimum of two years. This must begin in the period starting five years before the day of application and end on the day a decision is made on your application. The details of experience must be as follows.

For cultural activities: a self-employed person must have two one-year periods during which they have been self-employed in cultural activities, or two one-year periods when they have participated at an international class level in cultural activities, or a combination of a one-year period when they have self-employed in cultural activities and a one-year period when they have participated at world-class level in cultural activities.

Cultural activities refer to jobs that are usually perceived as part of the artistic and cultural arenas in Canada. Some of these include writers, authors, musicians, creative and performing artists, sculptors, visual artists, painters, craftspeople, creative designers, and technical support and other professions in motion pictures.

For athletics: Here the requirement is two one-year periods when the person has been self-employed in athletics, or two one-year periods when they have participated at an international class level in athletics, or a combination of a one-year period self-employed in athletics and a one-year period when they have participated in world-class level athletics.

For buying and managing a farm: The requirement is two one-year periods when they have managed a farm.

Selection criteria

Applicants are assessed on certain selection criteria. To become eligible as an self-employed immigrant, other than fulfilling the definition of a self-employed person, you also need to acquire a minimum of 35 points after grading is carried out on the five selection criteria and point system.

The selection criteria and point system is as follows;

• Education, the maximum points for which are 25
• Experience, the maximum points for which are 35
• Age; the maximum points are 10
• Language abilities in English or French, the maximum points being 24
• Adaptability, the maximum points being 6

The highest possible score is 100, while the pass mark is currently 35 points, although it may change. Visit the Citizenship Canada website for updates if you intend to immigrate to Canada as a self-employed immigrant.

Candidates are selected based on the documents provided, the score for each criterion of selection, and the fulfillment of the definition of a self-employed individual.

There may also need to be an interview as part of the immigration process, during which an official may ask you to further provide any information that is inconsistent or unclear, or any gaps or shortcomings in the provided documents. In case of disparities between the applicant’s statement of qualifications and the visa officer’s assessment, the process will favor the officer’s decision.

Medical requirements

You may require a medical exam if you want to immigrate to Canada. Your own doctor is not permitted to do the exam. Only panel physicians that have been approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada are eligible to conduct the exam.

You must also be able to prove that you have sufficient funds to support yourself and your family once you arrive in Canada.


The application package consists of all the forms that must be filled in, along with a guide which will assist in you filling out the forms correctly. These forms can be filled in on your computer and when you are done you can validate the Generic Application Form for Canada by clicking the ‘validate’ button. Print the form along with the barcode pages that will appear after the validation. Sign and date the form and include all the pages with your application. There will be some other forms that must be printed, signed and dated too. Ensure that all the answers are true and completed and fill in the rest of the forms that are part of the application package. There is a document checklist which you can check to ensure that you have not missed anything.

It is essential that all your answers be true and complete. If there are any answers that have been misrepresented or false, or if important details are left out, the application could be refused and you could also be prevented for five years from applying to travel to Canada for any reason. If any information, documentation, language test results, signatures and fees are missing from the application, it may be sent back to you without being processed.

Application fees

The application fees are as follows:

• Processing fee for you and your family members who will be coming to Canada: There is a separate fee for each family member who is mentioned in the application and will be traveling with you to Canada. Once the procedure for processing the application begins, the processing fee cannot be refunded. Therefore it is essential to ensure that you are eligible before you put in your application.
• The right of permanent residence fee: Once your application is approved, you are required to pay this fee before you can be granted the status of becoming a permanent resident. This fee can be refunded if your application is cancelled, your application is not approved, or if you decide not to travel to Canada.
• If your spouse or common law partner will be coming to Canada with you, a separate right of permanent residence fee must be paid before they can acquire the status of permanent resident.

The processing fee must be included along with your application. You can pay your fees in various ways based on the type of fee and where you are paying it from.

You may have to pay other fees to third parties for your medical examination, police certificate, language testing, and for services at a Visa Application Centre if you are using one.

Submitting your application

When submitting your application, ensure that you answer all the questions, have your signature on your application and other forms, include your processing fee, and include all the necessary supporting documents.

How your application is assessed

Once you have submitted your application, a Citizenship and Immigration officer will verify that you have filled out your application forms and signed them, submitted your processing fee and submitted all the necessary documents. Your application will remain unprocessed and will be sent back to you if anything is missing.

The Centralized Intake Office will tell you when your completed application is received, and an officer will inform you about what you need to do and about the future course of events.

Processing times

The time it takes to process an application differs depending on which visa office is doing the job. You can check your application processing times online.

Delays can be prevented if you inform the visa office if there are any changes to your personal information and also by refraining from contacting the visa office more than once regarding the same issue.

There may be a delay in your application if there are criminal or security problems, or if the visa office needs to conduct more background checks. Delays may also happen if your family situation is unclear, maybe due to divorce, an ongoing adoption or unresolved child custody issues, or if the visa office needs to verify your data at other CIC offices within Canada or abroad.

Once the visa office has received your application from the CIO and processing has begun, you can check its status online.

Medical examinations

It is necessary for you and your family members to have a medical examination before you arrive in Canada. This applies even if your family members are not coming with you. Your application will be refused if your health constitutes a danger to Canada’s public health or safety or if it would lead to an excess demand on Canada’s health or social services.

Once your application is sent to the visa office, you will receive a letter informing you about how to get the medical examination.

Police certificates

Individuals with criminal records may be disallowed from entering Canada. Those who may pose a risk to the country’s security are also barred from coming to Canada.

For immigration purposes, you and any family members of 18 years of age and older must give police certificates to the visa office, if this is asked of you.

Decision regarding your application

A CIC officer will make a decision about your application, depending on whether you meet the self-employment program’s eligibility criteria and if you have funds that are sufficient to support yourself and your family when you come to Canada. The results of your medical examination and the details on your police certificate will also be taken into account.

If you need to provide more documents or go for an interview, the office processing your application will get in touch with you. If your application is approved, you will be requested to send your passport to the visa office so you can be issued your permanent resident visa. This will include your Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) and your entry visa.

Have you been self-employed in Canada? Share your experiences in the comments below, or answer the questions here to be featured in an interview!