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I am writing to ask if self-employed work as a musician within Canada will be recognized as the 12 months of experience needed to apply for permanent residency in the Canadian Experience class.

Here is some background for the question.  I am from the U.S. and have been living in Canada since 2010 on a study permit, as a PhD student at a Canadian university.  My husband, who is a musician from Chile, has also been in Canada as my family member, with an open work permit also since 2010.  As both of our visas will expire when I finish my studies in August 2014, we are looking into our options regarding staying in Canada with permanent residency.

I know that I will have the option to apply for a post-graduate work permit.  I have also looked into the skilled worker permanent residency visa that was opened up two years ago for current PhD students.  Unfortunately we do not have the $14,000 or more in savings needed to apply through that category.

During our time in Canada, my husband, who has an undergraduate degree in music and education, has been working as a musician, playing in and managing a Latin Orquestra in Canada.  He registered the band in his name and has a business bank account (but no GST #, as it is not registered as a corporation).  He has declared and paid taxes on the band's earnings during the last two years.  I had thought that with this experience, he could apply for permanent residency through the Canadian Experience class.  However, just now in reading the forms more closely, I saw this statement: "Note: Any periods of self-employment, unauthorized work, or periods of employment during which you were engaged in full-time study (e.g. work experience gained on a co-op, off-campus or on-campus work permit) will not be included when calculating the period of qualifying work experience."  From the wording, it is unclear to me whether self-employment within Canada simply does not count as the necessary experience, or if that is only the case for full-time students.  

I also read about the business self-employed category that is open to musicians.  My husband meets the basic requirements and would get far more than 35 points.  However, I also read that the application can take years to process.

Would our best bet be to simply wait for me to apply for the post-graduate work permit when I graduate?  Or is the Canadian Experience class actually an option, despite what I read about self-employment?  Or is the self-employed category actually a viable option?

I appreciate any advice you can give us!

Answer
Brandee,

Good detailed question thank you.
The details of the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) are out lined in the link below, which you probably have seen before
http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/cec/apply-who.asp

Please note the NOC code link and see if "self employed musicians" are eligible in any of the noted categories. I do not think that they are.

Gaining a Ph.D. can open two Immigration streams 1) Skilled worker, but there is a yearly cap of 1000 applicants on this class, and as you say it is not for you. 2) The CEC is by far the best choice for you and your husband, for the following reasons.

a) Only you as the principal applicant will need to take a language test.
b) Your husband will be the accompanying spouse.
c) There are no points required for the CEC.
d) If you obtained your Masters degree in Canada, you could have automatically applied for your Post Graduate Work Permit, and continue with your Ph.D. studies on your Study Permit. In other words two permits at the same time.
e) I am sure that you can find a work position and will qualify
f) Immigration Canada looks favorably on applicants under the CEC banner.

Always keep in mind that you must keep your "immigration status" current, by renewing your permit and your passports up to date.

I hope this helps and if you need my further professional work or advice do not hesitate to contact me privately.

Canada - Government Information

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