The Self-Employed Artists and Athletes stream is a very unique program that allows those self-employed in athletics or in the arts/cultural fields to apply for Canadian permanent residence. This self-employed program is limited to NOC groups 51 and 52
Who Is Eligible For The Self-Employed Artists and Athletes Program?
To be eligible for consideration in the self-employed category, the applicant must:
- Demonstrate having relevant experience,
- Demonstrate the intention and ability to be self–employed in Canada, and
- Demonstrate their intention to make a significant contribution through either cultural or athletic, self-employed activities.
Relevant Experience Requirement
For self-employed artists and athletes, “relevant experience” is defined as a minimum two years of experience in cultural or athletic activities during the period beginning five years before the date of application for a permanent resident visa and ending on the day a determination is made.
The minimum experience requirement can be met in one of three ways:
- Two one-year periods of experience of self-employment in cultural activities or athletics;
- Two one-year periods of experience in participation at a world-class level in cultural activities or athletics, or
- A combination of a one-year period of experience in self-employment in cultural activities or athletics and a one-year period of experience at a world-class level in cultural activities or athletics.
The purpose of the program is to encourage immigration of artists and athletes who may make a significant contribution to Canada who will be able to create their own employment in Canada.
The adjudicating officer may consider factors such as:
- Self-employed experience in cultural activities or athletics;
- Management experience in the world of arts and culture;
- Personal financial assets as a measure of intent and ability to establish economically in Canada.
This category captures individuals such as music teachers, painters, illustrators, film makers, freelance journalists, theatrical or musical directors, and impresarios, as well as those people who work behind the scenes, for example, choreographers, set designers, coaches and trainers.
The “participation at a world-class level in cultural activities or athletics” experience category intends to capture performers, both those who perform in the arts, and in the world of sport. “World class” identifies persons who are known internationally. People who may not be known internationally but perform at the highest levels in their discipline may also be covered by this category.
It is important to note the “significant contribution to cultural or artistic life or to athletics” part of the test is designed to ensure that the self-employed class enrich Canadian culture, arts, or sports.
Practically speaking, when an permanent residence applicant meets the test of experience, intent and ability, and there is a reasonable expectation they will be self-employed in culture or sport, 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.
In the end, the definition of “significant contribution” is left to the discretion of the officer, but is not intended to bar qualified self-employed persons who are applying in good faith. Its inclusion in the definition is intended to bar frivolous applications.
No Minimum Investment Required
In this category, no minimum investment level is required. The capital required depends on the nature of the work. Applicants must have sufficient funds to create an employment opportunity for themselves and maintain themselves and their family members. They must show that they have been able to support themselves and their family through their talents and would be likely to continue to do so in Canada. This includes the ability to be self-supporting until the self- employment has been created.
Additional Options for Artists and Athletes
Those self-employed in arts and culture may choose to submit a C11 work permit application in conjunction with the permanent residence application. The timing of each application depends on its particular facts. For example, some applicants start with a work permit, establish themselves in Canada, and then proceed with a permanent residency application, other submit joint applications, or only a permanent residence application. There are several options open to self-employed athletes and artists, and our immigration lawyers are here to help you choose the path that’s right for you.