​The Self-Employed Persons Program targets people who want to become self-employed in Canada.

​They must have a relevant experience in cultural activities or athletics, and intend to make a significant contribution to Canada.

A “significant contribution” is not explicitly defined by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). IRCC has included it in the eligibility requirements to stop pointless applications that are not made in good faith. It is up to the immigration officer to interpret if the applicant truly intends to make a significant contribution. Also, significant contribution is not valid only at the national or international level: a dance teacher who will be teaching in a Canadian small town could be interpreted as a significant contribution at the local level and be valid.

With regards to occupations, only those in the Unit Group 5 (Occupations in art, culture, recreation and sport) under the National Occupation Classification (NOC) qualify for this program. You can look up the eligible occupations in this complete NOC list, and use the search bar to find all NOC occupations starting with the 51 or 52.

Examples of eligible occupations would be : 

  • Librarians,
  • Editors and journalists,
  • Singers, 
  • Dancers,
  • Comedians and actors,
  • Photographers,
  • Athletes and coaches,
  • Designers, etc.

To be eligible to the self-employed person program, you need to satisfy to the four following main requirements:

  • You intend on and be capable of self-employment in Canada.
  • You (and your family members) have to undergo medical tests, and provide police certificates for countries where you lived for more than 6 consecutive months after the age of 18.
  • You have relevant experience between (i) five years before your application date and (i) when a decision is made on your application, either in cultural or athletic activities:​
    1. At least two years of self-employment (can be made up of 2 separate periods of 1 consecutive year), or 
    2. At least two years of participation in international activities (can be made up of 2 separate periods of 1 consecutive year), or
    3. At least a combo of one year of self-employment (see 1.), and one year of participation in international activities (see 2.).
  • You have to meet the selection criteria for self-employed people, which means getting a minimum of 35 points out of a 100. See how much points you should get below. 
Experience (Max 35 points)

Points for language proficiency will only be awarded where you have had your proficiency assessed by an agency designated by Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada (IRCC).


You cannot apply online for this program, only by mail. After completing and signing the requested forms, assembling the supporting documentation, and paying your fees, you will have to send the application by mail to this address.

For the requested forms and supporting documentation, find out what those are in this document’s guide.

Nationals from a set of countries may have to supply their biometrics (fingerprints scanning and photograph) for a $85 fee. You can check here if you have to give them.

You have to go to a doctor authorized by IRCC to undergo Medical Exams. Check out our dedicated medical exams guide for more information.

For the Self-Employed Persons Program, the fees are $1,575 for the Business Immigration Application Fee and $500 for Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF). You can only pay online the total fee of $2,075 (here). 

For a spouse/partner, the fees are $825 for the application fee and $500 for the RPRF. There’s an additional $225 fee for each dependent child.

If your application began processing, the application fees ($1,575 for the principal applicant and $825 for the spouse/partner) will not be refunded. If you decided to remove your application, or not to come to Canada, or if your application was denied, you can get the RPRF ($500) refunded.

You should not apply to this program if you intend to reside in Quebec. The province has its own equivalent of the Self-Employed Persons Program, called the Self-Employed Workers Program.

The eligibility requirements are completely different from those of the federal program. You can learn more about the Quebec program, how to apply and processing times here.

An application for the Self-Employed Persons Program is processed approximately within 24 months. 

Check here for current processing times. Choose “Economic Class”, then “Self-Employed Persons (Federal)”.