Freelancer Visa in Canada: The Ultimate Guide

Embarking on the freelancer journey in Canada is akin to setting off into the vast Canadian wilderness—exciting, a bit daunting, but ultimately rewarding.

However, before you can enjoy the freedom of freelancing under the Northern Lights or amidst the bustling cities, there’s the matter of securing your freelancer visa.

Fear not, for this guide is your trusty compass, pointing the way through the maze of immigration policies and paperwork, ensuring you start your freelance adventure on solid ground.

Let’s dive in!

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What Is A Self-Employed Visa In Canada?

The Federal Self-Employed Program is a part of Canada’s business immigration streams. 

Candidates for the Self-Employed Persons Program must possess the knowledge, desire, and capacity to “significantly contribute” to Canadian sports or culture. 

This program enables qualified applicants to obtain permanent residency in Canada. 

This program establishes a fantastic PR pathway while maintaining very reasonable eligibility requirements.

The Canadian government offers the Federal Self-Employed Program as one of its immigration initiatives to draw self-employed people and have something to give the cultural or sports environment of the nation. 

With the help of this programme, independent contractors with suitable expertise in the arts or sports can become permanent residents of Canada.

Applicants must have at least two years of relevant self-employment experience in the previous five years in the fields of culture or sports to be eligible for the Self-Employed Persons Program. 

Along with meeting the program’s eligibility requirements, they must also have the desire and capacity to work for themselves in the country.

Candidates must have either been world-class athletes or self-employed cultural practitioners or have significantly impacted the nation’s cultural or athletic communities.

Musicians, artists, authors, coaches, and athletes are among the eligible professions.

In addition to satisfying the requirements, candidates are evaluated based on their education, age, language skills, experience, and flexibility. 

They receive points for each of these things, and to be qualified for the programme, you need to achieve a specific minimum score.

Successful candidates will be granted permanent resident status in the country, which entitles them to various advantages such as access to social services, healthcare, and education. 

After fulfilling the residency requirements, permanent residents may also be qualified to apply for Canadian citizenship.

What Is The Eligibility Criteria For A Self-Employed Visa In Canada?

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 decide 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 one year described in (a), and one year 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 one year described in (a) above, and one year described in (b) above

How To Apply For A Self-Employed Visa In Canada?

Step 1: Gather The Application Package

The application package is available to those who wish to immigrate to Canada as a self-employed person. 

It includes a guide and document checklist to make sure you are completely prepared. 

In most cases, you now need to give your fingerprints and biometrics after you apply.

Step 2: Pay Your Application Fees

The following fees need to be paid before submitting your application:

  • Processing Fee
  • Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF)
  • Biometrics Fee
  • Third-Party Fees (medical exams. police certificates, and language testing)

Step 3: Submit Your Application

You know your application is ready to be submitted when you have successfully answered all questions, signed all application forms, paid processing fees, and included all required supporting documents.

Acknowledgement Of Receipt (AOR)

Once the IRCC has received your PR immigration application, you will receive an Acknowledgement of Receipt also known as an AOR. 

This AOR is a confirmation that your application file has been created. 

You may also be referred to an “AOR date” which is the date from when your 6 months intended processing time begins.

What Is The Processing Time For A Self-Employed Visa In Canada?

Like every business immigration to Canada pathway, the self-employed program also abides by the federal processing timing. 

The current trends and approval rate will take around 15 to 22 months to complete the entire process.

What Are The Canada Self-employed Scheme Requirements?

  • Have at least 2 years of experience in your field of work
  • Be willing and able to be self-employed in Canada
  • Meet the program’s selection criteria
  • Meet medical, security, and other conditions
  • Possess sufficient funds to support yourself upon their arrival
  • Be fluent in English or French

Proof Of Financial Self-sufficiency

While the self-employment visa does not require a minimum income, you still need to prove you have enough funds to support yourself or your family. 

To do this you must have bank statements of the last few months before your application.

Full Health Insurance

To be eligible for this Canada digital nomad visa option, you’ll need to meet the medical certifications. This means you must get a full medical exam.

Proof of health insurance is not required at the time you’re applying for the visa. However, they might request you get one further down your application.

Clean Criminal Record

To be eligible for the visa, you need to meet the security certifications and get a police certificate. 

A police certificate states that you have a clean criminal record.

What Are Canada’s Self-Employed Visa Fees?

Once you make the payment, it will become easier to immigrate to Canada. Upon completing the process, you need to make the below-mentioned processing fee:

  • Self-employment application fee                     CAD 1575
  • Self-right of permanent residence fee             CAD 500
  • Spouse – Application fee                                 CAD 825
  • Spouse’s right of permanent residence fee     CAD 500
  • Dependent child                                              CAD 225 per child

What Other Visas Are Available For Freelancers To Apply For Canada?

Canada is a top destination for many foreign citizens looking to work remotely. Now, more than ever, remote work has grown in almost every country thanks to special visas. 

Sadly, Canada does not have a specific digital nomad visa, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to live and work as a digital nomad in this beautiful country.

Just recently, the federal government of Canada announced they are looking to attract talent from abroad through a “digital nomad strategy”. 

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said it will allow workers with a foreign employer to stay and work in Canada for up to six months. 

He also said that if digital nomads get a job offer while in the country, they can remain in Canada even longer.

There isn’t much information yet, aside from this announcement. 

However, we can expect that at the end of the year, we’ll have more information, and hopefully, a new digital nomad visa coming soon.

In the meantime, several programs in Canada allow digital nomads to work remotely in the country. 

How To Apply For The Canada Digital Nomad Visa?

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to apply for a self-employment visa. 

It is recommended you get assistance from a Canadian immigration lawyer to make sure you meet the prerequisites and help you out with your application.

Step 1 – Create an Account

The first step is to create a Permanent residence online application portal account.

It is through that portal that you’ll find all the forms and instructions for your application.

Step 2 – Fill Out and Submit All Application Forms

There are multiple application forms you must fill out to apply. You’ll fill out these digital forms online.

  • Generic Application Form for Canada (IMM 0008)
  • Schedule A – Background/Declaration (IMM 5669)
  • Additional Family Information (IMM 5406)
  • Supplementary Information – Your travels (IMM 5562)

You may find them on this website.

Step 3 – Get Your Fingerprints and Photo Taken

If you’re between the ages of 17 and 79, you’ll need to give your fingerprints and photo (biometrics).

Not everyone must submit their biometrics. 

If you do need to submit your biometrics, then keep these instructions into account:

  • You must pay the biometric fee when you submit your application. Otherwise, you may experience delays.
  • Get this done as soon as you get the letter from us that tells you to give biometrics.
  • You have 30 days to do this from the date on the letter.

Step 4 – Pay the Application Fees

The application fee is around $2,140.

In most cases, the fees will include:

  1. processing fees for you and anyone you include on your application
  2. the Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF)
  3. biometrics
  4. third-party fees

Step 5 – Submit Your Application

Before you click on ‘apply’, make sure you’ve answered all questions, electronically signed your application, and uploaded all the supporting documents.

This should include your processing fee receipt as well.

What Is The Timeline For Applying For A Canada Digital Nomad Visa?

Unfortunately, the timeline for the self-employment scheme application process is very long. It will take over a year to receive an answer. 

Reports say it takes from 24 months and even up to 50 months!

You can monitor the progress through the application portal.

What Are The Taxes For Canada’s Self-employment Visa?

Many people can stay in Canada for up to six months without the need to apply for a visa. 

Also, from a tax point of view, you should normally not worry about Canadian taxes if you only plan to stay there for a maximum of six months.

If you plan to stay longer, you will need to apply for a visa and you should also consider the tax consequences. 

Canada will deem you a tax resident if you stay longer than six months in the country during a calendar year or when you keep a continuing relationship with the country.

The first criterion is rather clear. 

On the connection with Canada, you need to look at if you have a house available there, work there, have your family with you and where your social life is situated. 

Because you need to consider different elements, this is a rather gray area.

Also, being a tax resident already in another country might affect your tax liability. 

Can The Canada Self-employment Visa Be Rejected?

The visa may be denied if you do not meet the criteria or if the application is incomplete.

In the case your application is denied, you’ll receive a letter stating the reasons why it was denied.

What Are The Benefits Of Working In Canada As A Digital Nomad?

✅ Flexibility

Flexibility in working hours and location is a prime benefit of being self-employed. 

If the traditional 9-to-5 office life just isn’t for you, if you live in a remote area, or if you have home needs to keep an eye on throughout the day, freelance work may allow you to find a personal work/life balance that suits your individual needs. 

Whether it be to earn some extra cash or follow a passion, such as photography, many Canadian freelancers choose to pursue their careers in their spare time outside of their main careers. 

✅ Pursue your passions

Some freelancers also choose to self-employ as it allows for variety and creative stimulation.

Being your boss means that you get to choose the projects you dedicate your time to; if you have options, you can pick projects that are close to your heart and challenge you in new ways to vary up your work schedule. 

✅ Low entry barrier

As long as you are skilled in your field and you possess the equipment to do your job well, you are theoretically able to start freelancing. 

For writers or web designers, a laptop might be all you need to get started, which lowers financial opportunity barriers to newcomers in some fields. 

Registering your business does come with some cost, but newcomers working as freelancers may appreciate the ability to be their boss in their everyday work.

✅ Contract work can be leveraged into a full-time opportunity

Contract work can be a great way to get your foot in the door with a company and show them the skills you can bring to the table. 

When it is time to hire for full-time positions, companies you have contracted for will already know your name and the quality of work you can produce.

✅ Testing your skills as a “solopreneur”

“Solopreneurs” are aspiring entrepreneurs who work individually to achieve their own business goals without hiring extra employees. 

The goal of many “solopreneurs” is to test the waters to see if there is a demand for their skills and services. 

Newcomers might find freelancing a good way to test the waters of entrepreneurship.

What Are The Five Common Types Of Freelance Work?

Freelance work options are growing rapidly as new technologies are constantly being innovated to allow new ways of remote working. 

Writing and art used to dominate freelance work, but it has now expanded to include everything from mobile app development to being someone’s virtual assistant. 

Here are some of the most common freelancing fields:

Freelance writing

Writing is one of the most common types of freelancing jobs since many businesses require fresh written content. 

Some types of freelance writing include article writing, blogging, creating website copy, social media, editing, marketing, and more.

Technology and development

If you possess the right tools and skills, you can freelance a job in tech from anywhere in Canada. 

Web development, mobile app development, information technology, blockchain, SEO specialisation and more can be lucrative for freelancers.

Creative work

Photography, audio and video production, graphic design, and other creative fields work especially well for freelancers, as you can choose specific creative projects that interest you.

Remote administrative support

Small businesses often source out their data and administration work to contractors. 

Data entry, virtual personal assistance, and translation services are sought-after skills for remote freelancers.


If you have teaching certifications, tutoring is a versatile form of freelancing that can even be done online. 

School-age students require tutoring for mathematics, science, and language, but you can also use your tutoring expertise to teach adult professionals important tech skills, language skills, and more.

Why Is Canada A Great Place For Digital Nomads?

Canada is a great place for digital nomads for several reasons. 

The country has a strong economy, a stable political system, and a high quality of life. Canada is also home to a diverse population and a rich culture. 

3 Canadian cities – Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver – have consistently ranked in the top 10 most livable cities in the world!

Here are some of the benefits of living and working in Canada as a digital nomad:

  • Access to high-speed internet: Canada has a well-developed internet infrastructure, with high-speed internet available in most parts of the country.
  • Affordable cost of living: The cost of living in Canada is generally lower than in other developed countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom.
  • Friendly and welcoming people: Canadians are known for being friendly and welcoming to people from all over the world.
  • Diverse landscape: Canada has a diverse landscape, with everything from mountains and lakes to prairies and cities.
  • Multicultural society: Canada is a multicultural society, with people from all over the world living and working together.


As our expedition through the freelancer visa process in Canada concludes, you stand at the threshold of a new frontier, ready to explore the boundless opportunities that freelancing in this diverse country offers.

Equipped with the knowledge from this ultimate guide, the journey ahead is demystified, leaving you free to chart your own path across the Canadian landscape.

Remember, with the right preparation, the world of freelancing in Canada isn’t just accessible; it’s yours to conquer.

Happy freelancing!

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