Immigration to Canada for Artists, Performers, and Self-employed People in Cultural Activities

Artists Immigration CanadaSofia is a German violinist. As a professional musician, she plays at various events. Of course, the event organizers compensate Sofia for her travel expenses and accommodation. Moreover, they pay her a lump sum of money per performance. While she is quite successful in Germany, Sofia intends to expand her horizons by moving to Canada. Consequently, she wonders if there are options for artists’ immigration. 

Canada is a multicultural society. The Canadian government encourages the existence of different cultures next to each other. Consequently, Canada enjoys a cultural mosaic or rather collection of different cultures in harmony and next to each other. Therefore, the Canadian immigration system welcomes different cultures to the country. No wonder there is an option for the immigration of artists to Canada.

Define cultural activities for artists’ immigration

The following list offers a sample of occupations that could fall under the umbrella of cultural activities. Of course, the numbers next to the classifications refer to the Canadian National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes.

  • immigration for artists and people active in cultural activities5111 – Librarians
  • 5112 – Conservators and curators
  • 5113 – Archivists
  • 5211 – Library and public archive technicians
  • 5212 – Technical occupations related to museums and art galleries
  • 5121 – Authors and writers
  • 5122 – Editors
  • 5123 – Journalists
  • 5125 – Translators, terminologists and interpreters
  • 5131 – Producers, directors, choreographers and related occupations
  • 5132 – Conductors, composers and arrangers
  • 5133 – Musicians and singers
  • 5134 – Dancers
  • 5135 – Actors and comedians
  • 5136 – Painters, sculptors and other visual artists
  • 5221 – Photographers
  • 5222 – Film and video camera operators
  • 5223 – Graphic arts technicians
  • 5224 – Broadcast technicians
  • 5225 – Audio and video recording technicians
  • 5226 – Other technical and coordinating occupations in motion pictures, broadcasting and the performing arts
  • 5227 – Support occupations in motion pictures, broadcasting, photography and the performing arts
  • 5231 – Announcers and other broadcasters
  • 5232 – Other performers, n.e.c.
  • 5241 – Graphic designers and illustrators
  • 5242 – Interior designers and interior decorators
  • 5243 – Theatre, fashion, exhibit and other creative designers
  • 5244 – Artisans and craftspersons
  • 5245 – Patternmakers – textile, leather and fur products

Needless to say, this list is neither inclusive nor exclusive. Consequently, your job could be on the list, but yet you do not qualify. Some other activities that do not appear on the list, such as Architects and Landscape architects, might be eligible, depending on their area of services. Therefore, make sure to consult with a professional to evaluate your chances.

Who qualifies for artists’ immigration?

To be eligible under this program, you must pass all the following tests:

  1. Experience
  2. Intent and ability
  3. Significant contribution

Experience in cultural activities

To pass the test of experience, you must meet one of the following criteria in the qualifying period.

  • A total of two years of self-employment in cultural activities, or
  • A total of two years of experience in participation at a world-class level in cultural activities, or
  • One year of self-employment and one year of world-class cultural activities.

When I say two years, you may divide it into two 12-month periods. However, each period must show continuous activities. If you are not familiar with the concept of the qualifying period, visit the following page:

Self-employed means the applicant was able to cover their expenses through their self-employed activities. Of course, by their expenses, I mean the applicant and their spouse and dependent children.

Intent and ability in cultural activities

You must show that you have the ability and intention to continue your self-employment in Canada. Of course, only self-employment in cultural fields is acceptable. To display the intent and ability, consider the following:

  • Proof of a prosperous past self-employment
  • Your net worth
  • A comprehensive business plan and settlement plan
  • Significant investment in Canada
  • Signing agreements with Canadian entities in terms of future collaboration
  • Joining cultural associations in Canada

Of course, this list is neither inclusive nor exclusive.

Significant contribution

It would be best if you convinced the immigration officer; you will contribute to the Canadian economy via your cultural activities in Canada. However, the expected contribution depends on the nature of your job and the destination you pick. Thus, you need to present a comprehensive settlement and business plan to portray your contributions. Nonetheless, the immigration officers rarely refer to this test to refuse an application. They usually use this test to weed out frivolous applicants. Regardless, consider presenting evidence to convince the officer you meet this criterion too.

The process for artists’ immigration

The current process consists of two significant steps.

  1. The applicant submits an application package to the Central Intake Office (CIO) in Canada. If CIO accepts the application, they will forward it to an overseas Visa Office.
  2. The overseas Visa Office processes the application. If they approve the application, the applicant and their family (i.e. spouse and children) may enter Canada as permanent residents.

The self-employed category is a Federal immigration method. Therefore, it means the applicant intends to settle anywhere in Canada but the province of Quebec.

What if I am a self-employed person but not an artist?

If you are a self-employed person but not an artist, then visit the following pages:

The complexities of artists’ immigration

I have represented hundreds of clients under the self-employed program in the past seven years. In my opinion, this is one of the most challenging methods of immigration. Therefore, an experienced immigration consultant could assess your case objectively and present your case to the immigration authorities in a professional lawful manner. If you want us to help you with this process, fill out the following form:

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    Updated: May 24, 2020

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    Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
    Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
    Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
    Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada

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    Al Parsai

    Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) in Toronto, Canada. He also teaches the official immigration consulting courses at Ashton College in Vancouver, Canada. Al who holds a Masters degree from Yorkville University is a member of ICCRC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented hundreds of applicants from more than 30 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.