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Self Employed Visa Requirements

theguv

Star Member
Dec 8, 2016
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5225
*** Disclaimer: I am not legally qualified to offer advice, this is the opinion of an applicant and someone who has spent years looking at this stuff ***

I've seen a lot of posts recently from people saying "I do x freelance, do I qualify?". Well, in a superficial way, maybe you do.

It's more complicated than that however.

While the MINIMUM requirements are that you have a minimum of 2 years Freelance experience in the last 5 in the field of work you do (that falls in the list of acceptable roles as laid out in the regulations) that is almost certainly not enough to get the visa.

This is a visa category seeking to attract WORLD CLASS actors, musicians, writers, artists, photographers, sculptors, Make Up & Hair Artists, Flim and TV Technicians etc.

What it's not is a category for Self Employed salon nail technicians or people who paint a bit and sell to friends, family and coffee shops.

Let's look at the wording:

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.

You can get more points if you have 3, 4, or 5 years of experience.

At a minimum, your experience must be:

  • for cultural activities:
    1. 2 one-year periods being self-employed in cultural activities, or
    2. 2 one-year periods participating at a world-class level in cultural activities, or
    3. a combination of a one-year period described in (a), and a one-year period described in (b)
  • for athletics:
    1. 2 one-year periods being self-employed in athletics, or
    2. 2 one-year periods participating at a world class level in athletics, or
    3. a combination of a one-year period described in (a) above, and a one-year period described in (b) above
Cultural activities covers performers, musicians, artists and all those in supporting cultural roles.

While you may make a comfortable living at your job as say a gigging pub/bar musician or an actor on some regional TV or theatre or perhaps you do AV at your church or teach art to college students, everything has to be put into perspective: am I among the best, not just locally or even nationally, but potentially internationally, at what I do?

As an athlete could you have lined up with Bolt in the 100m finals? Could you prove that you've spent the last decade training some of the biggest, strongest, fastest athletes on earth? If you've been teaching yoga and pilates at your local gym for expectant mums and the elderly then I think Canada already has enough people of it's own that can do that!

We have to weigh up our chances against the likelihood that there will be some epically qualified people in the pile that will get in way before your or my envelope is even opened.

Why would Canada let you or me in to do jobs that can very likely be done by people already there? We have to show that we have the skills, the experience and most importantly the desire to continue freelancing once in Canada.

This isn't a visa to apply for if you intend to get off the plane and apply for social security or just get a job at a 7/11.

They want to see that you have been serious thus far about advancing your career as a freelancer in your field and that it's a way of life to you, that it's the way you want to continue living and working once in Canada.

"It is intended that the Self-Employed Persons Class enrich Canadian culture and sports.

In other words, when applicants meet the test of experience and there is a reasonable expectation they will be self-employed, the test of significant contribution becomes relative. For example, a music teacher destined to a small town can be considered significant at the local level. Likewise, a freelance journalist who contributes to a Canadian publication will meet the test."


They want to see that you have enough experience and skills that you can literally step off the plane and companies, organisations and individuals will be beating the door down to pay you.

Being a paid hobbyist isn't the same as being a working freelancer.

You need the money saved and available to support yourself, the language and interpersonal skills to work people from all over the world and from different cultures and classes, you need the skills and talents that Canada values and most importantly wants.

Our aim is to impress a bored visa officer in an office somewhere who really wants to go home and stop staring at paperwork under buzzing strip lights. We have to show this person that we are able to support ourselves, to easily integrate socially and professionally, that we are skilled and, vitally, able and likely to enrich the cultural and sporting fabric of Canada.

If that's you (and I think it's me :) ) crack on, but if you just sell a few paintings or noodle away at music production or train pensioners to keep them from seizing up ask yourself this question: Does Canada ALREADY have enough people of my talent and skill level just scraping by? If you think they do, then try a different approach to Immigration or double down in your own country and become as good as you can at what you do and try again.

As a side note, become as proficient as possible in either English or French. Posts that read, "Tell me I am beings Freelances now 6 year, am I qualify." demonstrate a 8 year old's grasp of English and that is not good enough (by at least 10+ years) for the work environment. Posts that read, "How I get Canada self employed?" show not only chronic laziness on the part of the poster but also that barely childlike grasp of English again...

Just the thoughts of an applicant who wades through forums on the regular and sees the same type of posts over and over. Oh yes, feel free to use the search features for what you're seeking before you hijack someone else's post :)
 

BaNana82

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Sorry guv but I disagree. You're getting hung up on the phrase "WORLD CLASS" which is only relevant for one of the two avenues people can qualify for this stream. So it's either you have been self-employed for two years and can document it (documentation is the important bit here) or you have participated in cultural activities at a world class level. This second avenue is where world class level is relevant.

In their own operation manual for visa officers dealing with Self Employed applications they also state that world class "... also identifies persons who may not be known internationally but perform at the highest levels in their discipline." I urge anyone who's applying to this category to actually read the manual so they know the actual criteria IRCC are working with instead of conjecture.

So in conclusion you don't need to be of a world class level if you have 2 years self employed that you can document. If you only have participation in cultural activities, that's where world class levels come in. But if you feel confident that you can convince a visa officer that you are world class, by all means go ahead.
 

21Goose

VIP Member
Nov 10, 2016
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No, you don't need to be World Class to apply under this category. It's clearly stated:
  • for cultural activities:
    1. 2 one-year periods being self-employed in cultural activities, OR
    2. 2 one-year periods participating at a world-class level in cultural activities, OR
    3. a combination of a one-year period described in (a), and a one-year period described in (b)
  • for athletics:
    1. 2 one-year periods being self-employed in athletics, OR
    2. 2 one-year periods participating at a world class level in athletics, OR
    3. a combination of a one-year period described in (a) above, and a one-year period described in (b) above
The "OR" at the end of the statements have a specific legal meaning - they aren't just accidentally there, you know.

The Operational Manual states:

The officer must consider the following in assessing an applicant's experience, intent and ability to create their own employment in Canada: Self-employed experience in cultural activities or athletics. This will capture those traditionally applying in this category. For example, music teachers, painters, illustrators, film makers, freelance journalists. Beyond that, the category is intended to capture those people who work behind the scenes, for example, choreographers, set designers, coaches and trainers.Management experience in the world of arts and culture may also be a viable measure of self-employment; for example, theatrical or musical directors and impresarios


If you can prove this experience, it is sufficient. You don't need to be the next Scorsese or Bolt.
 

theguv

Star Member
Dec 8, 2016
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While I agree broadly I was aiming to make the point that while "World Class" isn't a strict requirement it's almost certainly a major thing to consider in terms of the competition we're facing when we apply for this visa stream.

Being a self employed at something and earning a living versus someone who's been working at a world class, internationally recognised level are two totally different things and visa officers are only human; the "World Class" scale of someone's work and it's ability to "Enrich the Cultural Life of Canada" is almost certainly going to trump someone who makes and sells regionally specific trinkets or photographs local events...

I'm not saying it's right or wrong but we'd be fools if we didn't weigh up the likelihood that we're up against competition that has way more exposure and higher profile experience than us.

Not looking to demean anyone's work, more to frame the scale of the undertaking. Is it worth the cash, the time, the effort, the sleepless nights and the hunting down of old addresses and work details if your work as a freelancer doesn't really stack up as "impressive" in the eyes of someone balancing you against the competition.

World Class isn't a requirement across the board but it's something that I have no doubt that will be front of mind for a Visa Officer when looking over an application. I'm not sure there's a quota for this stream but I'd be surprised if there weren't, so given the likelihood of a limited number of places available and the potentially high operating level of applicants in your field or mine, is it really worth it? Is EE or PNP a better route?

All of this is not even including the visa officers belief that you or I are going to get off the plane and be able to establish ourselves out of the gate as a freelancer. This is much easier to achieve if you have a reputation that precedes your arrival. The "World Class-ness" of your work can be easily judged by how much of it is known or conducted outside your locale.

I'm sure that a regional theatre make up artist has been accepted to this visa before but compared with someone who's done hair and make up on internationally distributed movies and world tours for global pop stars, it's pretty easy to see which one the officer is going to favour...
 

pathak2016

Newbie
May 29, 2016
8
0
Hello everyone, I am a self employed video camera operator for last two years but I worked more than ten years as a cameraman in a mainstream national television network before I start my self employment in India. Now during my self employment mostly I worked for NGO, News channel and Corporate companies so will I be eligible for self-employed immigration as I haven't work internationally? Please guide me.
 

21Goose

VIP Member
Nov 10, 2016
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AOR Received.
Feb 2017
Hello everyone, I am a self employed video camera operator for last two years but I worked more than ten years as a cameraman in a mainstream national television network before I start my self employment in India. Now during my self employment mostly I worked for NGO, News channel and Corporate companies so will I be eligible for self-employed immigration as I haven't work internationally? Please guide me.
You don't need to have worked internationally - from Canada's perspective, there are two kinds of work experience

1. Work done inside Canada - counts as Canadian work experience
2. Work done anywhere else in the world - counts as foreign work experience

You're probably thinking that "foreign" work experience means "work done outside your home country". That's not the case.

There are a few other things that go into whether your work experience qualifies you for Express Entry. You can read the eligibiity requirements here https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/express-entry/eligibility/federal-skilled-workers.html#skilled
 

typeaimages

Star Member
Apr 1, 2020
54
10
I am by no means "internationally known" or "world-class", at least I don't feel I am. I did start a photographic volunteer program that is one of the only one of its kind that received international attention. But, on a day to day basis I'm a basic wedding/portrait/commercial photographer. Our lawyers were clear that a "world class" designation is only one part of what the self-employed stream looks for. There's room for people who are simply gainfully self-employed and have been for 2 out of the last 5 years. I've got 12 years under my belt. I specifically asked them about this "world class" deal, because it did concern me. They said that's only one definition of what they look for.

They are pretty hopeful about my chances to see this stream through to a positive result.
 
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pathak2016

Newbie
May 29, 2016
8
0
You don't need to have worked internationally - from Canada's perspective, there are two kinds of work experience

1. Work done inside Canada - counts as Canadian work experience
2. Work done anywhere else in the world - counts as foreign work experience

You're probably thinking that "foreign" work experience means "work done outside your home country". That's not the case.

There are a few other things that go into whether your work experience qualifies you for Express Entry. You can read the eligibiity requirements here https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/express-entry/eligibility/federal-skilled-workers.html#skilled
Hi, I really thank you for your reply. Actually I am looking to immigrate via federal self employed immigration program. That is why asked whether I need
I am by no means "internationally known" or "world-class", at least I don't feel I am. I did start a photographic volunteer program that is one of the only one of its kind that received international attention. But, on a day to day basis I'm a basic wedding/portrait/commercial photographer. Our lawyers were clear that a "world class" designation is only one part of what the self-employed stream looks for. There's room for people who are simply gainfully self-employed and have been for 2 out of the last 5 years. I've got 12 years under my belt. I specifically asked them about this "world class" deal, because it did concern me. They said that's only one definition of what they look for.

They are pretty hopeful about my chances to see this stream through to a positive result.
Great. Now I am little bit confident that my case might be succeeded if I go through a proper lawyer. Can you please tell me few more things like how much monetary transaction need to show? and do I need a immigration business plan to provide along with the application? Lastly when should I show the settlement fund? I will really appreciate if you can answer my questions. Thank you.
 

typeaimages

Star Member
Apr 1, 2020
54
10
I wrote out a several page "landing plan", so to speak, about how I intended to be self-employed in Canada. I also wrote a narrative describing my business over the past 12 years (focusing mostly on the last 5, since that's what they asked for). The form Schedule 6A is where you fill out your financial situation and it asks about settlement money.

My lawyer told me to send everything I had, lots of info, and we'll throw as much information at it as we can.
 

sohailirfan

Full Member
Jun 12, 2016
20
0
So freelancers outside of Cultural Activities are not eligible? I'm a top rated Web Developer on Upwork 2175 NOC not sure if it counts as cultural or world class?
 

comerunning19

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Sep 12, 2019
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scylla

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So freelancers outside of Cultural Activities are not eligible? I'm a top rated Web Developer on Upwork 2175 NOC not sure if it counts as cultural or world class?
You don't qualify. You'll need to look into Express Entry and the PNP programs.
 

theguv

Star Member
Dec 8, 2016
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5225
You don't qualify. You'll need to look into Express Entry and the PNP programs.
take a look at the Global Talent Stream. You'll need a job offer but web design is one of the in demand jobs in that scheme
 

sohailirfan

Full Member
Jun 12, 2016
20
0
take a look at the Global Talent Stream. You'll need a job offer but web design is one of the in demand jobs in that scheme
Yes but I need to have an employer for that I believe as that stream is for employers to hire foreign worker