Migrating to Canada as a self-employed person

Migrating to Canada as a self-employed person

Jamaica to Canada

Antonn Brown

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

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I am a music teacher. Apart from my full-time classroom duties, I teach students to play the piano after school and on weekends. Would my profession qualify me to migrate to Canada?

— KR

Dear KR:

It is possible for you to obtain Canadian permanent resident status as a self-employed person. As per Canadian immigration regulations, a self-employed applicant is one who:

* Has relevant experience;

* Has the intention and ability to be self-employed in Canada; and

* Intends to make a significant contribution in specified economic activities through either self-employment in cultural activities, in athletics, or in the purchase and management of a farm.

The definition of "self-employed person" touches on two important points: (a) The ability of the applicant to establish the intended business in Canada; and (b) the likelihood of this business making a significant contribution to the economy of Canada. With the latter, 'significant contribution' is subjective and meant to bar frivolous applications.


The relevant experience must equate to at least two years within five years before the date of the application for a permanent resident visa. For cultural activities, one must demonstrate two one-year periods of experience in self-employment in cultural activities, two one-year periods of experience in participation at a world-class level in cultural activities, or a combination of one-year periods for self-employment and world-class experience.

For athletics, one must demonstrate two one-year periods of experience in self-employment in athletics, two one-year periods of experience in participation at a world-class level in athletics, or a combination of a one-year period for self-employment and world-class experience.

For the purchase and management of a farm, one must have two one-year periods of experience in the management of a farm.

Previous self-employment is not a prerequisite to admission as a self-employed person. However, although direct experience in operating a business is not a prerequisite, it may be considered in conjunction with other aspects of an application as a factor. It must also be considered in light of the occupation to be pursued in Canada. As such, it may be of greater significance in relation to some occupations than others. For example, where the contribution to be made is artistic or cultural, past business experience, even in the cultural or artistic field in question may be of little importance, especially when the applicant wishes to be a self-employed teacher. However, for commercial business, past experience may be more relevant and held to higher scrutiny.


Although athletics and managing a farm are more apparent, it may be useful to describe cultural activities, which are more varied. Cultural activities may include music teachers, painters, illustrators, film makers, freelance journalists, choreographers, set designers, and coaches and trainers. Management experience in art and culture includes theatrical or musical director and impresarios.

As it relates to cultural activities and athletic activities, the term 'world-class' deals with those who are known internationally or perform at the highest levels in their area.


The self-employed applicant must demonstrate the intent and ability to establish a business that will, at a minimum, create employment for himself and that will make a significant contribution to the Canadian economy. Applicants are selected or refused because they meet, or fail to satisfy the definition of self-employment.


If an applicant meets the definition of self-employed person, then there will be an assessment of the applicant based a points-based system. Under this system, an applicant requires 35 units out of a possible 100 to be successful. Points are given for years of experience, age, education, English (and/or French) language proficiency, and adaptability.


There are no conditions imposed to set up the business. A formal business plan is not necessary. However, applicants should undertake some sort of rudimentary plan or preliminary research of the Canadian labour market. There is no minimum investment. However, the capital required depends on the nature of the work.

Applicants must have sufficient funds to become self-employed and maintain themselves and their family members. For example, farming in Canada is a highly skilled and capital-intensive industry. One must be able to handle the practical aspects of farming, including malfunctioning equipment, and then check the state of world markets for their commodities. As such, farming requires capital, experience and skill.

For further information, visit jamaica2canada.com.

Antonn Brown, BA, (Hons), LLB, MSc, RCIC, is an immigration counsel, education agent and managing director of JAMAICA2CANADA.COM — a Canadian immigration & education firm in Kingston. Send questions/comments to jamaica2canada@gmail.com

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