Embracing Self-Employment: Your Guide to Canada’s Self-Employed Visa
Canada, known for its diverse culture and thriving economy, has long been a coveted destination for immigrants. Among the numerous pathways to Canadian immigration, one particularly appealing option stands out for those blazing their own trail in the fields of culture and athletics – the Self-Employed Visa. This unique visa program is tailored to attract individuals who have demonstrated significant capabilities in these areas and are eager to contribute to Canada’s cultural and athletic life.
Understanding the Self-Employed Visa
The Self-Employed Visa is a program that allows people to immigrate to Canada permanently as a self-employed person. The program specifically targets individuals with relevant experience in cultural activities or athletics, recognizing their potential to make a significant contribution to the rich fabric of Canadian society.
But what does it mean to be “self-employed” in the context of this program? Simply put, self-employed individuals are those who operate their own businesses or work independently in their field of expertise. They are the masters of their craft, whether it be playing a musical instrument, writing novels, competing in high-level athletics, or any other cultural or athletic endeavor.
Eligibility for the Self-Employed Visa
Key to eligibility for the Self-Employed Visa is the requirement for relevant experience. This means having at least two years of experience in the field of cultural activities or athletics. Importantly, this experience must be recent – within the five years before the day you apply, and up until the decision is made on your application.
So, what qualifies as relevant experience? For cultural activities, it could be two one-year periods of being self-employed in cultural activities or participating at a world-class level in cultural activities, or a combination of both. Similarly, for athletics, it could be two one-year periods of being self-employed in athletics, participating at a world-class level in athletics, or again, a combination of both.
Medical and Security Checks
In addition to demonstrating relevant experience, applicants must also meet certain health and security criteria. A medical exam is mandatory for all applicants and their family members. Similarly, applicants must provide police certificates to prove they have no criminal record. Also, it’s important to note that applicants need to show they have enough money to support themselves and their family after they arrive in Canada.
Fees for Application
The path to securing a Self-Employed Visa comes with some costs. The fees are broken down into a Business Immigration Application fee ($1,575), the Right of Permanent Residence Fee ($500), with additional fees if you’re applying with your spouse/partner ($825 for their application and $500 for their RPRF) and dependents ($225 each).
Patience is a virtue in the visa application process. The average processing time for the Self-Employed Visa is about 24 months. However, processing times can vary based on how quickly the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is processing applications at any given time. Some applicants may also need to give biometrics as part of the process.
Pros and Cons of the Self-Employed Visa
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Experience of Self-Employed Immigrants in Canada
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Alternatives to the Self-Employed Visa
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Canada has a Self-employed Persons Program that allows people to immigrate to the country permanently as a self-employed individual.
To qualify for this program, you must:
- Have relevant experience in cultural activities or athletics
- Be willing and able to be self-employed in Canada
- Meet the program’s requirements
- Meet medical and security checks and other conditions12
Relevant experience for a self-employed person means at least two years of experience. It must be during the period starting 5 years before the day you apply and ending on the day we make a decision on your application. For cultural activities and athletics, the experience required is defined as:
- Two one-year periods being self-employed in the respective field, or
- Two one-year periods participating at a world-class level in the respective field, or
- A combination of a one-year period described in (1), and a one-year period described in (2)34
You will be assessed on selection criteria that include your experience, education, age, language abilities, and adaptability. You and your family members must also have a medical exam and get police certificates. Additionally, you must show that you have enough money to support yourself and your family after you arrive in Canada5.
The fees for the Self-employed Persons Program are broken into a Business Immigration Application ($1,575) and the Right of Permanent Residence Fee ($500). If you are applying with a spouse or partner, there are additional application fees ($825) and Right of Permanent Residence Fees ($500). For dependents, there is an additional fee of $225 per dependent6.
The average processing time for this program is 24 months, but it can vary depending on how quickly the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is processing applications at the time7.
The application process involves gathering the application package, paying your application fees (including processing fee, Right of Permanent Residence Fee, Biometrics Fee, and Third Part Fees for medical exams, police certificates, and language testing), and submitting your application.
Once the IRCC has received your Permanent Residency (PR) immigration application, you will receive an Acknowledgement of Receipt, also known as an AOR. This AOR is a confirmation that your application file has been created. The “AOR date” marks the beginning of your intended 6-month processing time1.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to the application process:
- Gather the Application Package: The application package, which is available to those who wish to immigrate to Canada as a self-employed person, includes a guide and document checklist to make sure you are fully prepared. In most cases, you now need to give your fingerprints and biometrics after you apply2.
- Pay Your Application Fees: Before submitting your application, you will need to pay several fees, including the processing fee, the Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF), the Biometrics Fee, and third-party fees for medical exams, police certificates, and language testing3.
- Submit Your Application: When you have successfully answered all questions, signed all application forms, paid the processing fees, and included all required supporting documents, your application is ready to be submitted4.
Remember, immigration rules and procedures can change, and each case can be unique. It’s always a good idea to consult with an immigration professional or legal advisor when preparing your application to ensure you have the most current information and that your application is as strong and complete as possible.
Once your application is submitted, patience is key. Remember, the average processing time for this program is 24 months, but this can vary depending on how quickly the IRCC is processing applications at the time1.
During this waiting period, it’s crucial to keep all your information up to date. If you change your address, get a new job, or have any other significant life changes, you should inform IRCC as soon as possible. If there are any changes in your situation that could affect your eligibility (for example, a criminal conviction), you must inform IRCC.
In the meantime, start preparing for your new life in Canada. That might mean learning or improving your English or French language skills, researching where in Canada you might like to live, or starting to build a network of contacts in your industry.
The path to a Self-Employed Visa in Canada may seem like a challenging journey. However, with proper planning, relevant experience, and a clear understanding of the process, it’s certainly attainable. Being self-employed in Canada allows you to create your own path, contribute to the Canadian economy, and enjoy the country’s high quality of life.
Remember, each case is unique, and the application process can change over time, so always keep updated with the latest information from reliable sources. Consider consulting with an immigration professional to guide you through the process.
Good luck with your application and your future in Canada!
- Is there a specific visa for self-employed individuals wishing to immigrate to Canada? No, there isn’t a specific visa, but self-employed individuals can apply to the Self-Employed Persons Program or the Quebec Self-Employed Program if they are interested in moving to Quebec.
- What is the processing time for the Self-Employed Persons Program? The average processing time for this program is 24 months. However, this can vary depending on how fast the IRCC is processing applications at that time.
- What is the cost of applying for the Self-Employed Persons Program? The total fees for the program include a Business Immigration Application fee ($1,575) and the Right of Permanent Residence Fee ($500). Additional fees may apply for spouses/partners and dependents, as well as for biometrics and third-party services such as medical exams and police certificates.
- What qualifies as ‘relevant experience’ for the Self-Employed Persons Program? ‘Relevant experience’ means at least two years of experience in cultural activities or athletics at a world-class level, or as a self-employed person in these areas. The experience must have been gained in the period starting 5 years before the day you apply and ending on the day a decision is made on your application.
- Can I bring my family with me if I immigrate to Canada as a self-employed person? Yes, your spouse or common-law partner and dependent children can be included in your application. They will also need to undergo medical exams and provide police certificates.