Are you self-employed and considering Canadian immigration? You might still be eligible for various immigration streams. Most economic immigration programs require proof of at least a year’s worth of work, which can include self-employment.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) evaluates work experience using the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system to determine program eligibility.
If you’re applying to a skilled worker program, your overseas self-employed work experience may count towards the eligibility criteria. IRCC accepts evidence of self-employment, such as articles of incorporation, self-employment income records, and documentation from third parties indicating the services provided and payment details.
Alternatively, if you prefer a dedicated self-employed immigration program, there are options available for you to explore. Consider the possibilities and opportunities that Canada has to offer through its self-employed immigration programs.
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Recently, IRCC and the Government of Canada introduced measures to facilitate the immigration of doctors to Canada. Previously, some physicians encountered challenges accessing permanent residence through Express Entry programs due to the “fee for service” model used in the healthcare sector, which didn’t fit the traditional employer-employee model. As a result, they were classified as self-employed, making them ineligible for specific immigration streams.
However, in September 2022, IRCC announced an exemption for physicians working in the fee-for-service model. This exemption allows these doctors to access Canada’s economic permanent residence programs, enabling them to fill critical healthcare job vacancies and pursue permanent residency in Canada. This change benefits a more significant number of physicians and strengthens Canada’s healthcare sector.
The Federal Self-Employed Persons Program
The Federal Self-Employed Persons Program allows eligible foreign nationals with experience in cultural activities or athletics to become permanent residents in Canada. To qualify, candidates must demonstrate the intention and ability to make a “significant contribution” to Canada’s cultural life or sports.
Eligibility requirements include at least two years of self-employed working experience or participation at a world-class level in cultural or athletic activities as defined by IRCC.
The authorities assess candidates using a points grid that evaluates language ability, education, age, experience, and adaptability. A minimum cutoff score of 35 points determines eligibility for the program.
Quebec’s Self-Employed Worker Immigration Program
The Quebec Self-Employed Worker Program allows eligible individuals to obtain permanent residence by establishing themselves as independent tradespersons or professionals in the province.
To qualify, self-employed workers must meet the following requirements set by the Quebec government:
- Choose the means of work performance.
- Organize the work.
- Provide the required tools and equipment.
- Carry out most of the specialized duties.
- Collect the profits and bear the loss risks resulting from the work.
Applicants must be at least 18 years old. For those in Montreal, a start-up deposit of $50,000 or more is required at a local financial institution, while those outside Montreal must deposit at least $25,000.
Additionally, candidates are evaluated under the Quebec Economic Class selection grid, receiving points for different factors. Such as education, professional experience, language proficiency in English and French, family in Quebec, age, financial self-sufficiency, amount of deposit, and financial resources. The score must meet the passing threshold to be eligible for the program (up to 99 points or 112 points if accompanied by a spouse or common-law partner).
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Work Permit Opportunities for Self-Employed Individuals
Obtaining a temporary work permit is a standard route for self-employed individuals entering Canada. This experience can be valuable for future Canadian permanent residency applications, as many immigration programs require work experience in Canada.
If the Canadian business owner lacks a primary residence outside of Canada, a self-employed work permit may be an option. In such cases, the work permit could be exempt from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process, provided the applicant demonstrates their business’s significant benefit to Canada.
Under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), citizens of the US or Mexico investing in new or existing businesses in Canada may be eligible for Investor work permits to manage their Canadian businesses. Similarly, citizens of European member states can apply for Investor work permits under the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.
The Intra-Company Transfer work permit, commonly used by corporations to relocate key staff between branches. It’s also suitable for entrepreneurs starting a new business in Canada. Applicants must demonstrate their company’s potential to establish itself in Canada to qualify.
The Tax Considerations of Self-Employment
In Canada, income taxes are typically due on April 30th for the previous year. However, self-employed individuals have until June 15th to file their taxes. Their tax return must include the income generated from their business, whether a sole proprietorship or a partnership.
If a self-employed individual’s revenue exceeds $30,000 in a calendar quarter or over four consecutive quarters, they must register for GST/HST.
Individuals must complete Form T2125, the Statement of Business or Professional Activities, and the T1 General to report their self-employment income. The T2125 allows self-employed Canadians to deduct eligible expenses from their gross income, reducing their taxable income and lowering their income tax payments.
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