This page will discuss the self-employed stream.  You should note that this stream is limited to certain individuals and it is not appropriate for most people seeking to enter Canada.

Who Can Qualify Under the Self-Employed Stream?

There are only three classes of people who can qualify to enter Canada as self-employed:

1) Self-employment in cultural activities

The phrase “cultural activities” covers a lot of professions and occupations.  It includes musicians, artists, film makers, journalists, illustrators and so forth.

“Cultural activities” also include “behind the scenes” individuals such as directors, choreographers, designers, and so forth.

2) Self-employment in athletics

Aside from athletes, this class also includes coaches and trainers.

3) Self-employment in the purchase and management of a farm.

This is a tough class to succeed in.  You must have significant experience in farming and show that you have the skills to succeed in supporting yourself and your family through farming in Canada.

You should know that the self-employed stream category is not for people who wish to try to be self-employed in the above classes.

Rather, the cultural activities and athletics are for established professionals with significant experience and a lengthy record of supporting themselves in the activity.

Performers and those involved in athletics must be at a world-class level (discussed below).

Anything less than this and your chances of success in the self-employed stream are not good.

In the case of farming, CIC expects to see a multi-skilled individual who is capable of dealing with modern farming issues: competence in technology, deep knowledge of farming techniques, deep knowledge of markets for grain or animal products, and skills in dealing with machinery and all aspects of the modern farm.  You must also show a history of supporting yourself and your family by farming.

How Do I Qualify As a Self-Employed Applicant?

You must earn a minimum of 35 points (out of a possible 100 points) based on the following factors:


Relevant Experience   (within 5 years of application) Maximum 35 Points
Five years’ relevant experience 35
Four years’ relevant experience 30
Three years’ relevant experience 25
Two years’ relevant experience 20
Age Maximum 10 Points
21 to 49 years   of age at the time of application 10
Deduct 2 points   for each year of age over 49 or under 21
Education Maximum 25 Points
(Doctorate OR Master’s Degree) + 17 years’ full-time or   full-time equivalent studies 25
(3-year Trade Certificate OR LLB or Medical Degree)+ 15 years’   full-time or fulltime equivalent studies 22
(Bachelor’s Degree OR 2-year Trade Certificate) + 14 years’   full-time or full-time equivalent studies 20
(Bachelor’s Degree or 1-year Trade Certificate) + 13 years’ full-time   or full-time equivalent studies 15
1 year post-secondary + 12 years’ full-time or full-time equivalent   studies 12
Secondary school education 5
Official Languages Maximum 24 Points
High Proficiency 16 First   Language8 Second   Language
Moderate   Proficiency 8 First and   Second Language
Basic   Proficiency 2 First and   Second Language
Adaptability Maximum 6 Points
Spouse’s or   common law partner’s education 3-5
Minimum one year’s full-time authorized work in Canada (applicant or   spouse) 5
Minimum two years’ full-time post-secondary studies in Canada   (applicant or spouse) 5
Family Member in   Canada 5
TOTAL Maximum of 100


What Happens If I Can Not Get 35 Points?

Even if you do not receive 35 points, you still have a chance of a successful self-employed application.

Visa officers do have the discretion to grant permanent residence if – regardless of the points obtained – the points awarded do not reflect the actual chances of an applicant becoming economically established in Canada.

However, in order to be considered for this discretionary ability to admit you with less than 35 points, you have to ask for consideration.  If you do not ask, you will not be considered for admission with less than 35 points.

In order to ask for consideration, your cover letter should clearly state the following:

“In the event that I am not awarded 35 points, I request consideration pursuant to Regulation 109 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, as I believe I can become economically established in Canada regardless of the points I receive.”

You should always include this request, even if you calculated 35 points for yourself.


Because the visa officer may calculate points differently than you did.  If he or she does not grant you 35 points, and you did not ask for discretionary consideration, then your application will fail.

You have to do more than just ask for consideration, you have to provide evidence that you can – in face – become economically established in Canada regardless of the points you receive.

There is no checklist of factors that the visa officer will consider when exercising his or her discretion.  You have to put forward facts that you believe show that you can become economically established in Canada.

In my experience, the key factor for a positive decision is having a lot of cash or investments available.  It makes logical sense that the more money you have, the better your chances of becoming economically established in Canada.

Other factors you should mention (if applicable to you) are:

  • Having done business in Canada.
  • Clients or customers in Canada.
  • Having lived in Canada for extended periods of time.
  • Any real estate owned in Canada (but you should not buy real estate in Canada thinking it will improve your chances of success).
  • Relatives in Canada, and in particular, in the city in which you plan to settle.

The more factors you can show, the better your chances of success if you were not able to achieve 35 points.

The factors I listed are not an exclusive list – be creative and include anything you think will be persuasive.

Are There Conditions on Me Once I Arrive in Canada?

No.  Unlike the Entrepreneur Stream, there are no further requirements on you or your business once you arrive in Canada as a permanent resident.

Success Factors for the Self-Employed Stream

One key factor that CIC looks at in this category is a person’s financial assets.

Financial Assets

Although there is no minimum investment limit for the self-employed category, the greater a person’s financial assets, the greater the chances of becoming established in Canada.

If you have significant financial assets, be sure to provide as much evidence of these assets as you can, including bank statements, investment statements, tax returns, and so forth.

Length of Time You Have Been Self-Employed

Another key success factor is a lengthy period of time where you have supported yourself entirely with your talents.  You should provide evidence that you have sustained yourself by being self-employed.

For example, if you operate through a one-person corporation, you should supply a few years of tax records to show income.

As well, if you can supply contracts with customers or clients (perhaps blacking out personal information), that would be of great benefit to your application.

If you can not provide copies of your contracts for privacy or other reasons, perhaps you could provide affidavits from a number of your clients or customers attesting to your abilities and talents, and the fact that they are your clients and customers.

An affidavit from your accountant or lawyer will also be useful if he or she can attest to your self-employment in your field.

Participation at a World Class Level for Performers or Athletes

You must show that you are performing at a world class level if you are a performer or you are involved in athletics.  You must be known in your circles at the international level.

The best way to show this is to provide documentation, news articles, copies of website pages and so forth showing your participation at the world-class level.

If you have no evidence of your participation at the world-class level, you will not be successful as a performer or as an applicant involved in athletics.

Making a Significant Contribution to Cultural, Artistic Life, Athletics in Canada

The purpose of the self-employed category is to attract talented, self-employed individuals to contribute to Canadian life.

This success factor is not difficult to meet.

If you have shown all other factors, you just need to show that you plan to continue with your activities in Canada.

The only danger you may face here is if you are getting close to retirement.  For example, a high performing athlete may face retirement sooner than a high performing coach.

You should provide assurance to CIC in your cover letter that you have every intention to continue with your self-employment activities in Canada.


If you are going to apply to be self-employed as a farmer, you’re going to have to show a number of things in order to be successful.

You will have to show significant farming experience that has supported you (and your family, if applicable).  You’ll need to show tax records showing your income from farming, and copies of land deeds or leases showing the amount of land you’ve farmed.

If you’ve raised animals in your farming experience, you’ll have to show evidence of this as well, including copies of purchase and sale contracts for the animals you’ve raised.

CIC expects modern farmers to have a broad range of skills, including the ability to tend to animals, to follow the market for farming products, basic bookkeeping, and so forth.

You’ll need to provide some evidence of your skills beyond actual farming.

You should include a cover letter indicating any abilities you may have tending to animals, dealing with markets, and/or using computers to track inventory and so forth.

If you have any post-secondary training whatsoever, provide copies of diplomas, certificates or transcripts.