Athletes and artists abroad take notice! Canada wants you!

The Self-employed Persons Program is an immigration program which aims to encourage people involved in cultural or athletic activities and who have qualifying experience to apply for a permanent visa to come to Canada.

As always, there are selection criteria as will be explained below, but overall the main criteria are:

  • You must have relevant experience in cultural activities or in athletics, and
  • You must be willing to make a significant contribution to the cultural or athletic life of Canada.

Please take note of the second point listed right above. This PR visa is for those who wish to continue their careers as artists or athletes after they move to Canada. And you must be a truly qualified person in your area of endeavour in order to be able to successfully contribute to Canada’s cultural and athletic worlds.


Who can apply – Eligibility  

To be eligible for this program you must:

  • Have relevant experience. In other words, you must:
  • Have participated in cultural activities or athletics at a “world class” level, or
  • Been a self-employed person in your activity for at least 2 years during the last 5 years as follows:


  • 2 one-year periods of being self-employed in cultural activities, or
  • 2 one-year periods participating in world-class level cultural activities, or
  • A one-year period of each of the two


  • 2 one-year periods of being self-employed in athletics, or
  • 2 one-year periods of participating in world-class level athletics, or
  • A one-year period of each of the two


Selection Criteria

As in Express Entry Skilled Worker streams, there are selection criteria that you will be assessed against with a maximum possible score of 100 points. The current minimum acceptable score is 35 points, but this may increase depending on how the program develops and how much interest there is.

The first selection criteria is you must meet IRCC’s definition of a self-employed person: An immigrant admitted to Canada because they have relevant experience for himself or herself. The person must intend and must be able to become self-employed in the arts or in athletics.

To assess your selection criteria, immigration authorities will use the following:

  • The documents you send
  • Your score under each of the 5 selection criteria (based on the documentation you send)
  • Your meeting the definition of a self-employed person
  • However, if there is any inconsistency in your documents or unclear information, a visa officer may request to interview you to allow you to explain. If different from your statement of your qualifications, the visa officer’s assessment of your qualifications will be used.

Here are how the points are awarded according to the 5 selection factors:

Selection Criteria Maximum Points
Education 25
Experience 35
Age 10
Ability in English and/or French 24
Adaptability 6



Points for education are awarded as follows:

Points awarded Educational credentials
25 Masters or PhD & at least 17 total years of full-time study
22 2 or more Bachelor Degrees & at least 15 years full-time study
22 3-year Diploma, trade certificate, or apprenticeship & 15 years full-time study
20 2-year or more University degree & 14 years full-time study
20 2-year Diploma, trade certificate, or apprenticeship & 14 years full-time study
15 1-year university degree & 13 years full-time study
15 1-year diploma, trade certificate, or apprenticeship & 13 years full-time study
12 1-year diploma, trade certificate, or apprenticeship & 12 years full-time study
5 High school diploma indicating you completed secondary school


Relevant experience

Your relevant experience must have begun within 5 years of your applying and ends when a decision is made on your application. This is important to note because the processing times are currently estimated at 22 months, so it may be a number of months before a decision is made which can add to your relevant experience and increase your points as shown below:

Years relevant experience Points awarded
2 years 20
3 years 25
4 years 30
5 years 35


If you are 16 or younger or 54 or older, you will be awarded no points for age. In between those ages you will be awarded points as follows:

Age Points awarded
16 and younger 0
17 2
18 4
19 6
20 8
21-49 10
50 8
51 6
52 4
53 2
54 and older 0


Language ability

You must take an approved English and/or French language test to prove your language ability and be awarded points. These tests are the following:

  • IELTS (International English Language Testing System) General (NOT the IELTS Academic)
  • CELPIP-G (Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program – General) (NOT the CELPIP-A)
  • TEF Canada (for French language ability)
  • TCF Canada (for French language ability)

Choose ONE of the first two if you wish to prove English Language ability.

Choose ONE of the second two if you wish to prove French Language ability.

You will be awarded a maximum of 24 points, and the specific points you are awarded will depend on how well you score on the language test you choose to take. The points are awarded as follows:

Level Points First or Second language
High 4 1st official language
High 2 2nd official language
Moderate 2 Either official language
Basic 1 Either official language

See the instruction guide for details of what scores from each test rate as a high, moderate, or basic level.



You will be awarded a maximum of 6 points for any combination of the following:

Adaptability factor Points awarded
Spouse: secondary school or less 0
Spouse: 1-year diploma, trade certificate or apprenticeship, or 1-year university degree & 12 years full-time study 3
Spouse: 2-year or 3-year diploma, trade certificate, apprenticeship or 2 or 3-year university degree & 14 years full-time study 4
Spouse: Masters or PhD & 17 years full-time studies 5
You or Spouse/Partner have 1 year of full-time work in Canada on a valid work permit 5
You or Spouse/Partner have completed at least 2 years of full-time study in Canada on valid study permit and are 17 years or older 5
You or Spouse/Partner have relatives living in Canada who are citizens or have permanent residence. Relatives means: parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, sibling, child of parent, child of grandparent, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, or grandchild of parent 5


Remember to check often to see if the minimum score of 35 on your selection factors has been raised by the immigration authorities.


How to Apply

Go here to download the instruction guide.

Use Generic Application Form for Canada – IMM 0008. Go here to download it. If you have problems opening the PDF document first make sure you have the latest version of Adobe Acrobat on your computer. You can also try saving it to your hard drive and opening the PDF doc from there.

Make sure you download the document checklist (IMM 5784E) to ensure you send all the necessary documentation to avoid delays or even rejection of your application. Go here to download it.

Fill out form IMM 0008 completely and accurately. Validate every time you are asked (press the “validate” button on the page) and then print and sign the form. Make sure to include the barcode page.



Pay your fees online. You will need either a valid Credit Card or a Canadian debit card. You will also need access to a printer. Remember to print your receipt before exiting the webpage where you pay your fees. You need to include the printed receipt in your application.

As of now the following fees are applicable:

  • Processing fees
  • Right of Permanent Residence Fee
  • Biometrics Fee: this must be paid when you submit your application. Go here to see if you need to submit biometric information. You will then receive a biometrics instruction letter that you must take with you to the nearest biometrics collection point where your digital fingerprints and a digital photo will be taken. The amount of the fee is as follows:
  • Individual biometrics fee: CAD$ 85
  • Family biometrics fee: CAD$ 170
  • Artist groups (3 or more) biometrics fee: CAD$ 255
  • Any third-party fees for things like medical exams, language tests, or police certificates, etc.

Application Fees are outlined in the following table:

Application (per person) Fee
Application including Processing fee ($1050) and Right of Permanent Resident fee ($490) $1540
Application without Right of Permanent Resident fee $1050
Include Spouse or Partner: Processing fee ($550) Right of PR fee ($490) $1040
Include Spouse/Partner without Right of PR fee $550
Include a dependent child $150


Go here to see if you need to have a medical exam. Go here to find a panel physician who is authorized by Canadian authorities to give a medical exam.


Mail your completed application with all supporting documents to the following address:

Immigration Refugees & Citizenship Canada

Self-employed Class

Centralized Intake Office

P.O. Box 7200

Sydney, NS

B1P 0E9



After you Apply

  • You will receive your biometrics instruction letter which you must take with you to the nearest biometrics collection point to give biometrics.
  • You will also have to complete your medical exam if you have not done so.
  • You should have also obtained a police certificate.
  • If your application is approved, you will be asked to send your passport to the visa office to get a stamp placed in it as well as a COPR (Confirmation of Permanent Residence).
  • You must have your COPR and PR visa when you arrive in Canada.

As stated above, the waiting time for participants in the self-employed persons program is around 22 months. So, you’ll need to be patient but as well, putting together a complete and accurate application with all the necessary documents and paying all required fees is key to speeding up the process. Good luck!


If you need assistance, please contact us at our office in Markham, Ontario in the Greater Toronto Area.