Graduate Entrepreneur Stream – Eligibility

Find out if you meet the criteria to apply to the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program –Graduate Entrepreneur Stream.

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Graduate Entrepreneur Stream


The Graduate Entrepreneur Stream allows Alberta to nominate qualified international graduates from Alberta post-secondary institutions who want to establish or operate a business in Alberta to apply for permanent residence.

Who is an entrepreneur?

An entrepreneur is a person who sets up a business with the aim to make a profit. An entrepreneur is commonly seen as an innovator, a source of new ideas, goods, services and business/or procedures.

Entrepreneurs play a key role in Alberta’s economy, using their skills and initiative to anticipate needs and creating jobs for Albertans. Entrepreneurs who prove to be successful in taking on the risks of a start-up business are rewarded with profits and continued growth opportunities.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for this stream, candidates must meet the following criteria:

Table 1. Requirements for Graduate Entrepreneur Stream

Area Requirement
Education Have completed at least two years of full-time education, resulting in a degree or diploma from an Alberta Advanced Education publicly funded post-secondary institution.
Work permit Have a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), which is valid at the time of your Expression of Interest (EOI) submission.
Language Have a minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level of 7 for each English language skill or Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) of 7 for each French language skill: reading, writing, listening and speaking. Official test results must be less than 2 years old at the time your EOI is submitted. Alberta Advantage Immigration Program (AAIP) only accepts the following language tests:

Check the federal guideline on CLB/NCLC equivalency for each of the tests.

Business establishment Must establish a new business or buy an existing business in Alberta with a minimum 34% ownership. The proposed business type must not be on the list of ineligible businesses.

Candidates are not required to establish a business in Alberta until their Business Application is approved by the AAIP. Find resources on how to establish a business in Alberta, including supports and services related to business plan development, business start-up, and business loans.

Business Partners must be Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents.

Factors that increase your chances

If you have one or more of the following adaptability factors, this may increase your likelihood of receiving a Request to submit Business Application:

Table 2. Factors that increase your chances

Criteria Adaptability factors
Work experience Have a minimum of 6 months of full-time work experience that can be a combination of actively managing or owning the business or equivalencies. Equivalencies include experience with a business incubator or business accelerator, or completion of entrepreneurship program courses.*

Work experience can be acquired:
  • from outside Canada or within Canada
  • before or after completing Alberta education
Alberta education credential used to meet both education and work experience criteria must cover the minimum required duration for both education and work experience.
Economic benefit Can provide economic benefit to Alberta through:
  • job creation
  • economic sector
  • business location (for example, rural)
  • business succession
  • investment
  • developed intellectual property
  • partnership or support from business incubator/accelerator, venture capital or angel investor
Age 21 to 49 years
Spouse Your spouse or common-law partner has at least one of the following:
  • at least 1 year of continuous full-time employment in Alberta
  • completed at least 2 years of full-time study at a post-secondary institution in Alberta
  • a minimum level CLB 5 in English or NCLC 5 in French in all 4 language abilities (Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking)
Alberta relative You, or your spouse or common-law partner, have one or more of the following relatives living full-time in Alberta: father, step-father, mother, step-mother, child, step-child, sister, step-sister, brother, step-brother

* Education being used in lieu of work experience must be from an Alberta post-secondary institution. Approved post-secondary institution entrepreneur programs and suggestions for work experience equivalencies may include:

  • Aboriginal Entrepreneurship
  • Artisan Entrepreneurship
  • Culinary Entrepreneurship
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Bachelor of Commerce – Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  • Bachelor of Commerce – Small Business and Entrepreneurship
  • Master of Business Administration – Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Note: There are several entrepreneurship courses and programs available through different post-secondary institutions in Alberta but not all courses will be considered for work experience equivalencies. In general, courses that are extracurricular and not part of a formal academic program may not be eligible for consideration as work experience equivalencies.

AAIP Self-assessment tool

Review the Self-Assessment Tool to ensure you meet program eligibility requirements.

Selection from EOI pool

The AAIP is currently accepting EOIs under the Graduate Entrepreneur Stream. The information provided in the EOI, the Business Proposal Summary and Net Worth Worksheet will be assessed and points will be awarded by the AAIP based on the Graduate Entrepreneur Stream Points Grid. Alberta may select candidates with the highest-ranking points and invite them to submit a Business Application.

For more information on the application process, see How to apply.

Table 3. Graduate Entrepreneur Stream points grid

Business establishment factors (75 points)
Criteria Descriptions Points
Business management or ownership experience or equivalent (equivalencies include work experience with a business incubator or business accelerator or completion of entrepreneurship program courses)

(Maximum of 15 points)

Not a mandatory requirement

6 months 5
More than 6 months to 1 year 10
More than 1 year 15
Economic benefit

(Maximum of 40 points)

Not a mandatory requirement

Economic benefits
  • Economic development sector (for example, energy, agriculture; technology, data, telecom, aviation, aerospace, financial services, fintech
Succession 5
Job Creation (max 15 points):

Jobs must be created for Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents (not including relatives) for a period of at least 6 months.
  • 1 job
  • 2 jobs
  • 3 or more jobs
Rural (outside Edmonton and Calgary Census Metropolitan Areas) 5
Total business investment

(Maximum of 20 points)

Not a mandatory requirement

$25,000 or less 5
$25,001 to $50,000 10
$50,001 to $75,000 15
$75,001 or more 20
Human capital factors (25 points)
Language proficiency

(Maximum of 15 points)

Mandatory requirement

Proficiency in English or French:  
  • CLB 7/NCLC 7 (7 for each Reading, Writing, Learning and Speaking) (mandatory minimum)
  • CLB 8/NCLC 8 (8 for each Reading, Writing, Learning and Speaking)
  • CLB 9/NCLC 9 or higher (9 for each Reading, Writing, Learning and Speaking)
Alberta education

(Maximum of 10 points)

Mandatory requirement

Bachelor’s degree or a 2-year Diploma (mandatory minimum) 5
2 or more degrees or diplomas 7
Master’s degree or higher 10
Adaptability factors (25 points)

(Maximum of 5 points)

Not a mandatory requirement

21 to 49 years 5
Spouse/common-law characteristics

(Maximum of 10 points)

Not a mandatory requirement

Your spouse/common-law partner has one or more of the following:
  • at least 1 year of continuous full-time employment in Alberta
  • completed at least 2 years of full-time study at a post-secondary institution in Alberta
  • a minimum level CLB 5 in English or NCLC 5 in French in all 4 language abilities

(if one or more characteristics are met)

Alberta relatives

(Maximum of 10 points)

Not a mandatory requirement

Relatives are defined as father, step-father, mother, step-mother, child, step-child, sister, step-sister, brother, step-brother of candidate or spouse/common-law partner 10
Maximum points   125

Selection and notification process

Once the AAIP receives your Business Application, they will assess it against the eligibility criteria and your EOI Points will be verified. An AAIP Official may contact you for more information.

The AAIP does not guarantee that all complete Business Applications received will be assessed or that all candidates who meet the assessment criteria will be issued a nomination. Review the declaration for the International Graduate Entrepreneur Immigration Stream available on the AAIP Portal and the AAIP Terms and Conditions for complete information. Submission of a Business Application or nomination by the AAIP does not guarantee you will be issued a permanent resident visa.


You are not eligible to apply under Graduate Entrepreneur Stream if:

  • You have an active nomination which has not expired and/or is eligible for extension under another AAIP stream. Candidates are only eligible for one AAIP Nomination Certificate.
  • You have been issued a letter on a previous AAIP application that stated you are not eligible to re-apply to the AAIP for a specified period of time. If you apply during the specified period, it will be declined.
  • You have a removal order issued against you by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) or Canada Border Services Agency.
  • You are a refugee claimant or an individual involved in a federal appeal or removal process. The AAIP does not intervene in the federal refugee claim, appeal or removal process.
  • You are a foreign national living or working in Canada with no valid temporary resident status.
  • Your business is on the list of ineligible businesses below.

Established businesses in Alberta

International graduates who currently own and operate a business in Alberta can apply to the AAIP as another pathway for permanent residency. They must demonstrate they meet the criteria highlighted in the Graduate Entrepreneur Stream Points Grid at the time of EOI submission. The established business must have operated in Alberta for at least one year immediately prior to submitting an EOI in the AAIP portal.

EOI submissions will be scored based on the Graduate Entrepreneur Stream Points Grid and candidates with the highest-ranking points will be requested to submit a Business Application to the AAIP. International graduates who have already established businesses in Alberta and are currently operating them will not be required to operate their business for an additional one year after applying to the AAIP.

Eligible international graduates will be issued a nomination certificate after submitting their Business Application to the AAIP and must continue to operate their business in Alberta while they go through the permanent residence application process with IRCC.

Read After you are nominated for more information on next steps.

Business eligibility

Eligible businesses

It is your responsibility to ensure your proposed business meets the criteria for eligible businesses. If it is not an eligible business or does not clearly demonstrate a significant economic benefit to Alberta, your Business Application may be declined.

Business must have the potential for creating economic benefit to Alberta, as assessed by the AAIP. A proposed business must align with the following general requirements to be eligible under the Graduate Entrepreneur Stream:

  • The purpose of the proposed business must be to make a profit from active or earned income, not passive income, through the sale of goods and/or provision of services.
  • The proposed business must comply with any applicable federal, provincial or municipal legal, regulatory or licensing requirements that govern its operation. This includes Alberta labour laws, including but not limited to employment standards, occupational health and safety and labour relations legislations.
  • The proposed business must comply with applicable trade certification requirements in Alberta. For example, businesses in a compulsory trade must have a valid Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Trade (AIT) recognized trade certificate. To determine if you require a trade certificate, review these lists of designated trades:
  • The proposed business must have a physical place of business in Alberta at all times.
  • For franchises, the ownership requirements and all other program criteria are the same as for other businesses. Candidates must also provide evidence that they have received support from the master franchisor to operate a franchise location.
  • You must own at least 34% of the business. You are required to reside in Alberta and be involved in the day-to-day management of the business. You may not do this remotely, or from another Canadian province or territory or from another country and you are required to demonstrate residence in Alberta while on a work permit.

Ineligible businesses

  • Any business in contravention of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations (for example, immigration-linked investment schemes or passive investment).
  • Businesses without a value-add economic component, including:
    • pay day loan, cheque cashing and related businesses
    • businesses trading in used goods
  • Businesses that would be considered passive investment and/or lack active management, including
    • property rental, investment and leasing activities
    • real estate development or brokerage, insurance brokerage or business brokerage
    • coin-operated businesses, including laundromats and car wash operations
  • Project based or seasonal businesses
  • Home-based businesses, including:
    • businesses that are not zoned for commercial or industrial operations
    • bed-and-breakfasts and lodging houses
  • Businesses that are part of a succession plan. This includes businesses that:
    • are owned or operated by a close relative of the candidate
    • were previously owned or operated by a current or former AAIP entrepreneur stream candidates/nominees within the past 4 years
    • have changed ownership in the past 3 years prior to Graduate Entrepreneur Stream application
  • Businesses involved in producing, distributing or selling pornography or sexually explicit products or services, or providing sexually oriented services.
  • Any other type of business that by association would tend to bring the AAIP and the Government of Alberta into disrepute.


Connect with the program if you have questions:
Email: [email protected]