Visa Crunch

Canada’s Alberta Relaxes Requirements For International Graduate Entrepreneur Streams

Alberta has relaxed requirements for its two Canadian immigration streams for international graduate entrepreneurs.

The changes to the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) streams took effect as of December 7, 2021.

The two streams are:

  • Foreign Graduate Start-Up Visa Stream
  • International Graduate Entrepreneur Immigration Stream

Changes to Foreign Graduate Start-Up Visa Stream
Under the Foreign Graduate Start-Up Visa Stream, language requirements have been reduced from a minimum of Canadian Language Benchmark 7 to 5 for English or French in all disciplines. Candidates can now also qualify if they have completed their degree in the last 10 years. Previously, the degree had to have been completed in the last two years.

Changes to International Graduate Entrepreneur Immigration Stream
Under the International Graduate Entrepreneur Immigration Stream, the requirement for 6 months of mandatory work experience has been eliminated.
It has been reclassified as a factor that would increase a candidate’s chances of qualifying for the stream.

Furthermore, candidates now qualify simply by having a valid Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) at the time of submitting their Expression of Interest. Previously, the PGWP had to have been valid for two years.

Change to Both Streams
In a further change to both streams, international graduates who currently own and operate a business in Alberta can qualify for permanent residence, provided they meet the criteria.

Alberta Foreign Graduate Start-Up Visa Stream
The Alberta immigration Foreign Graduate Start-Up Visa Stream is an economic immigration program for qualified foreign-educated graduates from outside of Canada who want to launch start-up enterprises and innovative businesses in Alberta.

The AINP stream is a partnership between the AINP and two designated agencies, Vancouver-based Empowered Start-Ups and Calgary’s Platform Calgary.

Those agencies are to review the foreign graduates’ business plans based on:

  • their ability to demonstrate market need or demand;
  • the potential for successful market entry in the short-term to medium-term;
  • customer acquisition;
  • business development, and;
  • key partnerships and financial plans to fund the development and operation of the start-up.
  • Once that’s done, the designated agency provides a written report on its assessment of the proposed business plan. Foreign graduates then submit this report with their FGSVS business applications.

Alberta International Graduate Entrepreneur Immigration Stream
The Alberta International Graduate Entrepreneur Stream is aimed at international graduates from Alberta post-secondary institutions who want to establish or operate a business in the province.

Candidates must initially establish or operate their business for at least 12 months while in Alberta on a work permit, before being nominated by the AINP for permanent residence once the terms of a Business Performance Agreement are met.

Steps to Permanent Residence

  1. Submit an Expression of Interest

Candidates who meet eligibility criteria can submit an Expression of Interest. EOIs will be reviewed and scored within 30 days of submission. The highest-ranking candidates will be requested to submit a Business Application.

  1. Submit Your Business Application Package

Candidates selected from the EOI pool must submit a Business Application with 90 days. A non-refundable $3,500 application fee must also be paid.

  1. Business Application assessment

Once a candidate’s Business Application and supporting documents are received, the AINP will assess the Business Application.

If a candidate’s Business Application is approved, they will be sent a signed Business Performance Agreement (BPA). The BPA is a legal agreement between the candidate and the province of Alberta. It must be signed and returned to the AINP in 14 days. After the AINP receives the signed BPA, candidates will be issued a Business Application Approval Letter.

  1. Establish Your Business in Alberta

After receiving the Business Application Approval Letter, candidates can live in Alberta and actively own and operate their business for at least 12 months, with at least 34 per cent ownership.

  1. Final Report for AINP Nomination

Once the conditions of the Business Performance have been met, a final report for nomination is submitted to the AINP.

If the final report is approved, the AINP will send a nomination certificate to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and send the candidate a nomination letter.

Candidates can then apply for permanent residence to IRCC.

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