Immigrate to Canada as a Digital Nomad

Self-employment is changing the future of the world’s job market. With flexible hours and environments, more autonomy as well as lower overheads, it’s no surprise that there are currently 57 million freelancers in the world. Over the past five years, more and more people are opting to work for themselves, despite the tightening labour market.

Freelancing is expanding at three times the rate of the traditional labour workforce and is expected to increase by 168% over the next 10 years. Many freelancers or digital nomads are also choosing to venture outside of their hometowns, searching for growth opportunities elsewhere. This has lead to many companies implementing new strategies, particularly aimed at attracting millennials, who make up about 47% of the freelance community.

At the current growth rate, it is estimated that 45% of Canadians will be freelancing by 2020. With this in mind, the Canadian government has made certain immigration provisions, including offering programs geared specifically at entrepreneurs and freelancers who want to immigrate to Canada.

What are my options?

1. The Self Employed Program

cheerful Canadian freelancer shaking hands with business client

This category is for applicants who not only want to be self-employed and immigrate to Canada but are able to make a substantial contribution to Canadian society. You will need to have relevant work experience in cultural activities and/or athletics (at a world-class level) or have been self-employed in one or both of these fields, in the past five years for at least two one-year periods in order to qualify.

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 will be required a minimum score of 35 out of a possible 100 points, based on these requirements. Points are awarded as follows:


Scoring System for Selection Criteria
Selection criteriaMaximum Points
Education25
Experience35
Age10
Ability in English and/or French24
Adaptability6
Total100

You and your family members(over the age of 18) will also be required to submit an immigration medical examination administered by a panel physician approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada(IRCC), biometrics as well as police certificates.

The great thing about the Self Employed Program is that there is no minimum net worth required, although applicants will need to be able to support themselves, as well as their dependents. This gives more prospective immigrants the opportunity to contribute to the Canadian economy and potentially become permanent residents.

2. Start-Up Visa Program

start up diagram with laptop for Canadian freelance business

This category is for applicants who want to start a business in Canada, with the aim of creating jobs for innovative entrepreneurs, while being able to compete on a global scale.

In order to qualify, one or more of the following designated organisations, or approved business groups, must be willing to invest or support a minimum of $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 membersFunds 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 budgeting for how much you will need, it is important to take the following into consideration:

  • 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

agenda analysis for Canadian self employed business plan coffee cup

Self-employed applicants can also apply via Provincial Nomination Programs (PNP’s). Although these programs are not specifically designed for freelancers, due to its restrictive requirements, it is important to know that the option is available, should you wish to immigrate to the respective province offering the PNP.

The workforce is adapting to meet the modern needs of its society and Canada is one of the few countries that have made provision for digital nomads and entrepreneurs in its immigration scope. So whether you have recently ventured out on your own, or are contemplating taking a leap into the self-employment, Canada could be just the place to do it. With the help of one of our RICC professionals, immigrating to Canada could be as easy as taking that first step and clicking on the following link. Sign up today for your evaluation and start the process of making Canada your new home.