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Canadian Self-Employed Immigration

Written by Henry J. Chang

According to Section 100 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations ("IRPR"), self-employed persons may become permanent residents on the basis of their ability to become economically established in Canada and who are "self-employed persons" within the meaning of Section 88(a) of the IRPR (discussed below).


Section 88 (1) of the IRPR specifically defines the term "self-employed person" as follows:

  1. A foreign national who has relevant business experience;
  2. Has intention and ability to be self-employed in Canada; and
  3. To make a significant contribution to specified economic activities in Canada.

Each of these requirements is discussed in greater detail below.

Relevant Experience

According to Section 88(1) of the IRPR, the term "relevant experience" in respect of a self-employed person, means at least 2 years in the period beginning five years before the date of application for a permanent resident visa and ending on the day a determination is made, in one of the following types of experience:

  1. Self-employment in cultural activities or in athletics, and
  2. Participation at a world class level in cultural activities or athletics, or
  3. Farm management experience.

Intention and Ability to be Self-Employed in Canada

The regulatory requirement that the applicant have both the intention and ability to be self employed in Canada is not defined. However, logically one can conclude that the applicant's intention may be based on his or her past experience in the self-employed field and the ability is related to both past experience and the details of a business plan. It is unclear if the success of an applicant's past self-employment or business experience will be taken into account by an immigration officer.

Specified Economic Activities

According to Subsection 88(1) of the IRPR, the term "specified economic activities" in respect of a self-employed person, means cultural activities, athletics or the purchase and management of a farm.

Selection Criteria

Self-employed applicants are generally assessed under the same criteria as "independent" applicants (for additional information regarding the selection criteria for independent applicants, please refer to our article on independent applicants.) However, self-employed applicants need obtain thirty-five units (35) of assessment.

In addition to obtaining at least thirty-five units of assessment, investor applicants (and their dependents whether accompanying or not) must not be otherwise inadmissible.

Provincial Nomination

Most provinces in Canada have an agreement with the Government of Canada that allows them to play a more direct role in selecting immigrants who wish to settle in that province. Applicants who wish to immigrate to one of Canada's provinces as a Provincial Nominee, must first apply to the province where they wish to settle. The province will consider the application based on their immigration needs and the applicant's intention to settle there. Provincial Nominees are not assessed on the selection criteria mentioned above.

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