Federal Self-Employed Program

If you’re self-employed, it might be tough figuring out your path towards Canadian citizenship or permanent residence.

After all, it’s not as straightforward as getting an invitation from an employer or a letter of acceptance from a Canadian school.

Marina Garvey
Immigration Consultant
(416) 628-38-59
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What is the Federal Self-Employment Program?

Simply put, the Federal Self-Employed Program is designed for anyone who is trying to permanently immigrate to Canada as a self-employed person in the field of arts or athletics.

Thankfully, Canadians welcome immigrants from all walks of life, and the Federal Self-Employment Programs allow for any self-employed individuals to take their shot at Canadian immigration.

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Marina Garvey

Immigration Consultant

Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant RCIC #R514071

(416) 628-38-59

Who is Eligible for the Federal Self-Employment Program?

If you’re interested in the program, you need to have relevant experience in the art or athletic fields to qualify. By relevant, the Canadian government means at least two years of experience in those respective fields.

Examples of eligible careers in the arts include:

  • Dancer
  • Musician
  • Painter
  • Writer
  • Designer

Examples of eligible careers in athletics include:

  • Athlete
  • Coach
  • Referee

Besides that, you also must be willing to continue being self-employed in Canada and satisfy all the selection criteria, as well as medical and security checks. 

What are the Selection Criteria for the Federal Self-Employed Program?

If you decide to apply for the Self-Employed Program, you will be given a score out of 100 based on how well you fulfil the five selection criteria.

Each criterion is worth a different number of points, and you need a minimum of 35 to qualify for the program. The selection criteria are:

  • Education (Maximum: 25 points)

Education is one of the main ways to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise.

To achieve the maximum of 25 points, you must have a master’s degree or Ph.D. and complete at least 17 years of full-time study.

This criterion not only looks at university degrees, but also recognizes diplomas, trade certificates, and apprenticeships.

  • Experience (Maximum: 35 points)

Out of the five selection criteria, the most emphasis is placed on experience.

You must have a minimum of 2 years of relevant experience within the last 5 years of applying for the program. You can achieve this by having:

  • 2 one-year periods of being self-employed
  • 2 one-year periods of participating at a world-class level in arts or athletics
  • A combination of one year being self-employed and one year participating at a world-class level

The more experience you have, the more points you will earn. You can earn a maximum of 35 points by having 5 years of relevant experience in the arts or athletics.

  • Age (Maximum: 10 points)

This criterion is judged based on your age at the time the visa office receives your application.

Preference is given to those who are between 21 to 49 years of age. If you fall between this age bracket, you will receive a maximum 10 points for this criterion.

If you are 16 or under, or over 54 years old, you will receive 0 points for this criterion.

While it can be frustrating to be scored on something that is out of your control, age only makes up a small portion of the selection criteria. You can improve your chances of qualifying for the program by improving other areas of your application such as language or education.

  • Language (Maximum: 24 points)

You will be assessed on your proficiency in either English or French based on your ability to speak, listen, read, and write.

Roof Ph.D. proves your language proficiency, you must take a language test from a designated language testing agency.

For English speakers, you can take a General Training test from the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or a General test from the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP).

For French speakers, you must submit your results for the following tests from TEF Canada: Test d’évaluation de français or TCF Canada: Test de connaissance du français:

  • Compréhension écrite
  • Compréhension orale
  • Expression écrite
  • Expression orale

It is important to note that your language test results are valid for up to two years after the date of your test. When applying for the Self-Employed Program, make sure that your language test results have not expired.

  • Adaptability (Maximum: 6 points)

Adaptability measures how well you will fit in Canada. You can earn a maximum of 6 points in the adaptability category through a combination of these factors:

  1. Spouse or common-law partner’s level of education. Having a spouse or partner that is well educated will result in scoring more points. If your spouse has a master’s degree or a PhD and at least 17 years of full-time studies, you will receive a maximum of 5 points for this element. If your spouse’s highest level of education is a secondary school (high school) or less, you will receive 0 points for this element.
  2. Canadian work experience. If you or your spouse has a minimum of one year of full-time work experience in Canada through a valid work permit, you will receive the full 5 points for this element.
  3. Canadian education. To receive the full 5 points for this element, you or your spouse must have completed a full-time study program of at least two years at a Canadian post-secondary institution.
  4. Relatives in Canada. If you or your spouse have any immediate family who is Canadian citizens or permanent residents and reside in Canada, you will receive the full 5 points for this element.

How do I apply for the Federal Self-Employed Program?

When applying for the Federal Self-Employment Program, there’s a three-step process that you should follow.

  • First, you must get your application package. It will include a guide and a document checklist.

The guide will help you to fill out all the forms correctly and the checklist will outline all the supporting documents you need to include in your application like language tests, travel documents, etc.

  • Second, you must pay your application fees. Most of the time, your application fees will include processing fees, the Right of Permanent Residence Fee, biometrics, and third-party fees (medical exams, language tests, etc).

You must pay all of your fees online, so make sure you have a working credit or debit card. The average cost of a Federal Self-Employed Program application is $2,075.

  • Third, you must check your application and submit it. It is your responsibility to make sure that all the forms are filled according to the guide, you have all the supporting documents, and your fees are paid in full. Otherwise, the application will be sent back to you and then you can fix any errors that you’ve made, which might extend your processing times.

Once you triple checked, make sure you mail it to the address in the instruction guide.

What happens after I apply for the Federal Self-Employed Program?

Once you’ve applied, you’ll be contacted by the visa office informing you that they have received your application.

If you are between 14 and 79 years old, you will have to give your fingerprints and photo (biometrics) as part of your application. You need to get this done as soon as you receive the letter from the visa office, as it is a standard part of the application. You will have 30 days to do so, so make sure you book your appointment in advance.

What are the processing times for the Federal Self-Employed Program?

The processing times vary from case to case, with an average of 35 months per application. Your application can be delayed if you have a criminal record, require further background checks or the visa office must contact other visa offices abroad.

If you have any important changes to report in the meantime, such as a change of address, updated language test results, or a job offer, you can use a Web Form to do so. This will allow for the process to be as smooth as possible.

The office that will process your application will contact you if you need to send over more documents or do an interview.

What happens if I get approved for the Federal Self-Employed Program?

Congratulations! Once your application has been approved, you’ll be issued the permanent resident visa, which will include your Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) and your entry visa.

Just make sure you grab it before you fly over to your new home!

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If you have any questions, or you have any doubts/concerts about education in Canada, or if you just wish to ask us for help with your programs, please reach out to us. We will gladly answer all of your questions. We are able to present and support your interests to the governmental bodies and agencies of Canada, including with regard to immigration. We are a licensed company that is able to meet all your immigration needs — R514071.

Marina Garvey
Immigration Consultant
(416) 628-38-59
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