Work In Canada

How to Work in Canada as a Digital Nomad

Self-employment is changing the future of the global labour market. With flexible working hours and environments, more autonomy and lower overhead costs, it’s no surprise that there are currently 57 million freelancers in the world. Over the past five years, more and more people have chosen to work on their own account – despite the tight labour market.

The number of freelancers is growing three times faster than the traditional workforce and is expected to increase by 168% over the next 10 years. Many freelancers, or digital nomads, are also choosing to leave their hometowns and seek growth opportunities elsewhere. This has led many companies to develop new strategies aimed primarily at attracting Millennial, who make up about 47% of freelancers.

At the current growth rate, it is estimated that 45% of Canadians will be freelancers. With this in mind, the Canadian government has enacted certain immigration regulations, including offering programs specifically aimed at entrepreneurs and freelancers who wish to immigrate to Canada.

What are my options?

1. The Self Employed Program

This category is for applicants who not only want to be self-employed and immigrate to Canada, but can also make a significant contribution to Canadian society. To qualify for this category, you must have relevant professional experience in the cultural field and/or in sports (at a world-class level) or have been self-employed in one or both of these fields for at least two one-year periods in the last five years.

The following selection criteria apply to this program:

  • Work Experience – must have at least 2 years experience in the past 5 years;
  • Education – must have post-secondary qualifications in the field;
  • Age – Preferably 18-35 years old.
  • Language Skills – Must be proficient in French and English;
  • Adaptability – Must be able to adapt to Canadian society with ease

Applicants must score a minimum of 35 points out of a possible 100 based on these requirements. The points are awarded as follows:

Scoring System for Selection Criteria
Selection criteria Maximum Points
Education 25
Experience 35
Age 10
Ability in English and/or French 24
Adaptability 6
Total 100

You and your family members (over the age of 18) must also provide a medical examination by an Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) approved contracted physician, biometrics, and police certificates.

The great thing about the Self Employed Program is that no minimum net worth is required, although applicants must be able to support themselves and their family members. This gives more potential immigrants the opportunity to contribute to the Canadian economy and potentially obtain permanent residency.

2. Start-Up Visa Program

This category is for applicants who want to start a business in Canada to create jobs for innovative entrepreneurs while competing globally.

To qualify for this category, one or more of the organizations or approved business groups listed below must be willing to invest or support at least $200,00 in your start-up.

The following criteria apply to the Start-Up Visa Program:

1. You will need to obtain a letter of support from one of the following organizations:

  • Venture Capital Funds;
  • Angel investor groups; and/or
  • Business incubators.

2. You must have a qualifying business

3.Meet language requirements – meet minimum language requirements of level 5 for the Canadian Language Benchmark(CLB) in either French or English

4. Bring enough money to settle and support any dependents.

Minimum Funds Required for Dependants
Number of family members Funds Required(in Canadian dollars)
1 $12,669
2 $15,772
3 $19,390
4 $23,542
5 $26,701
6 $30,114
7 $33,528
Each additional family member $3,414

When planning your budget, consider the following:

  • Most Canadians spend 35% to 50% of their salary on housing and utilities.
  • Rent can be anywhere between $350 per month to rent a room, to $2,000 per month to rent a larger apartment or house
  • Up to half of your salary will go towards household expenses such as heating, food, clothing, health insurance and transportation
  • Bear in mind that you may have deductions from your salary including income tax, employment insurance, pension and so on, totalling to about 25% – 35% of your income.
  • It is also a good idea to prepare for unforeseen expenses such as prescription medication.

3. Entrepreneur Programs

Self-employed applicants can also apply through the Provincial Nomination Programs (PNP). Although these programs are not specifically designed for freelancers due to their restrictive requirements, it is important to know that this option is available if you wish to immigrate to the particular province that offers the PNP.

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