Rural Entrepreneur Stream – Eligibility

Find out if you meet the criteria to apply to the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program’s Rural Entrepreneur Stream.


The Rural Entrepreneur Stream allows Alberta to nominate qualified and capable entrepreneurs who want to start a new or buy an existing business in a rural Alberta community.

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 create jobs for Albertans. Entrepreneurs who prove to be successful in taking on the risks of establishing a business are rewarded with profits and continued growth opportunities.

The Alberta Advantage Immigration Program (AAIP) defines rural Alberta communities as any community with a population of less than 100,000. The AAIP uses the most recent census from Statistics Canada to determine a community’s population. In addition, the community must be outside of the Calgary and Edmonton Census Metropolitan Area. More information can be found at:

Participating communities

Candidates interested in a specific rural Alberta community should connect with the community contact person to discuss their business proposal and schedule an exploratory visit. Each community has their own process for scheduling an exploratory visit. Communities reserve the right to meet only with potential entrepreneurs whom they deem as a fit.

When contacting a community, use only the contact details listed in each community’s profile. Communities not listed but wanting to participate can submit the Community Enrolment Form to [email protected].

For more information on participating rural communities, see the participating communities page.

Exploratory visit

Candidates must complete an exploratory visit. The community and the candidate determine together if the exploratory visit will be in-person or completed using web-based video conferencing. Candidates are required to submit an Exploratory Visit Report with the Business Application whether the visit was conducted in-person or by web-based video conferencing.

Candidates completing an in-person exploratory visit need to meet visa requirements to be able to come to Alberta. The AAIP and the community will not provide you with a letter of support to obtain a visa for the exploratory visit.

Prior to coming to Alberta for the exploratory visit, we recommend candidates research current market opportunities in the community, licensing and registration requirements, and steps involved in establishing a business in Alberta. The exploratory visit provides you with the opportunity to meet with local business contacts, economic development officers from the community as well as any other prospective contacts to learn and understand the local business environment, and requirements to build a successful business in the community. The purpose of the exploratory visit is to assist you in making an informed decision about operating and managing a business in a rural Alberta community. Keep records of the trip, including any contacts and meetings, as this information is needed for the Exploratory Visit Report.

The Exploratory Visit Report must include the following information:

  • The name of the professional business service providers or settlement organizations you visited during your trip or spoke to in your video conference, including mailing addresses, telephone numbers and emails.
  • A description of the activity, in-person meeting or video conference and how it relates to your business establishment or settlement.
  • Copies of business cards you collected from relevant contact and business service providers contacted during your in-person visit (if applicable).
  • Details of visits to existing business locations and meetings with current owners if you are planning to purchase an existing business. You should include the business name, location and the current owners’ names and contact details.

After the exploratory visit, provide a copy of the complete Rural Entrepreneur Stream Business Proposal Summary to the community contact person. This allows the community to reaffirm the discussions during the exploratory visit. The Business Proposal Summary provides information on the business venture in the community. If the community deems that you and your business proposal is a benefit to the community, a Community Support Letter is issued, and the community endorses the Business Proposal Summary. The Community Support Letter and endorsement of the Business Proposal Summary ensures the community is aware and supportive of the business, and supports your retention in Alberta. The community may provide you with additional information on contacts and support available for you to transition into the community upon arrival.

After receiving a copy of the Community Support Letter and endorsed Business Proposal Summary from the community, you can submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) to the AAIP.


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

Table 1. Requirements for the Rural Entrepreneur Stream

Work experienceHave either a minimum 3 years of experience as an active business owner/manager or a minimum of 4 years of experience as a senior manager within the past 10 years.

Completed a minimum of high school equivalent to the Canadian standard with an Education Credential Assessment (ECA).

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website lists the designated organizations for ECAs


Have a minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level of 4 for each English language skill or Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) of 4 for each French language skill: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Official test results must be less than 2 years old at the time your Expression of Interest is submitted. The AAIP only accepts the following language tests:

Check the IRCC website on CLB/NCLC equivalency for each of the tests.

Net worthMinimum net worth of $300,000. All assets must be candidate’s own personal holdings or spouse's or common-law partner’s.
Business investmentMinimum investment of $100,000 from candidate’s own (and/or spouse/common-law partner) equity. Higher levels of investment will be awarded more points.
Business establishment

Minimum ownership of 51% for a new business. Business Partners must be Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents.


100% ownership for business succession (the succession buy-out must result in a complete change in ownership where the candidate will assume full control of the business).

Business must not be on the list of ineligible businesses.

Resources on how to establish a business in Alberta, including supports and services related to business plan development, business start-up, and business loans are available on the Small business resource page.

Job creation

New businesses must create at least one full-time job for Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents (not including relatives).

More job creation will be awarded more points. Jobs must be created for Canadian citizens or permanent residents (not including relatives) for a period of at least 6 months.

For business succession, job creation is not required.

Community support letterCandidates must have a Community Support Letter from a participating rural Alberta community.

Factors that increase your chances

If candidates have one or more of the factors in Table 3, this may increase their likelihood of receiving a Request to Submit a Business Application.

Table 2. Factors that increase your chances

Economic BenefitBusiness succession
Age21 to 49

Your spouse/common-law partner has one of the following:

  • completed at least one year of full-time post-secondary education (Certificate, Associate Degree, Diploma, Bachelor’s Degree or higher) or
  • a minimum level Canadian Language Benchmark 4 in English or Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens 4 in French in all four language abilities (Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking). Language test results must be less than 2 years old at the time the Expression of Interest is submitted.
Alberta relativeRelatives are defined as father, step-father, mother, step-mother, child, step-child, sister, step-sister, brother, step-brother of candidate or spouse or common-law partner

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 Rural Entrepreneur Stream. The information provided in the EOI, Business Proposal Summary, Net Worth Worksheet and Community Support Letter is assessed and points are awarded by the AAIP based on the Rural Entrepreneur Stream Points Grid. Alberta may select candidates with the highest-ranking points and request they submit a Business Application.

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

Table 3. Rural Entrepreneur Stream Points Grid

Rural Factor (25 points)

Business Location

(Maximum of 25 points)

Mandatory requirement

Rural Community

Community outside the Edmonton and Calgary Census Metropolitan Areas and under 100,000 population size (mandatory minimum)

Tier 1: Less than 10,000 population25
Tier 2: 10,001 to 50,000 population17
Tier 3: 50,001 to 99,999 population10
Business Experience Factor (20 points)

Business owner-manager or senior management experience within the past 10 years

(Maximum of 20 points)

Mandatory requirement

Business owner-manager
3 to less than 4 years (mandatory minimum)12
4 to less than 5 years16
5 or more years20
or Senior manager
4 to less than 5 years (mandatory minimum)12
5 to less than 6 years16
6 or more years20
Business Establishment Factors (60 points)

Total Business Investment

(Maximum of 20 points)

Mandatory requirement

$100,000 to $399,999 (mandatory minimum)5
$400,000 to $599,99910
$600,000 to $799,99915
$800,000 or more20

Net Worth

(Maximum of 10 points)

Mandatory requirement

$300,000 to $399,999 (mandatory minimum)6
$400,000 to $499,9998
$500,000 or more10

Job Creation

Jobs must be created for Canadian Citizens or Permanent residents (not including relatives) for a period of at least 6 months.

(Maximum of 20 points)

Mandatory requirement

For business succession, job creation is not mandatory; however, candidates will be awarded points for job creation.

1 job (mandatory minimum)4
2 jobs8
3 jobs12
4 jobs16
5 jobs or more20

Business Successions

(Maximum of 10 points)

Not a Mandatory requirement

Investment to takeover an existing business10
Human Capital Factors (35 points)

Language Proficiency 

(Maximum of 25 points)

Mandatory requirement

Proficiency in English or French:
CLB/NCLC 4 (4 for each Reading, Writing, Learning and Speaking) (mandatory minimum)15
CLB/NCLC 5 (5 for each Reading, Writing, Learning and Speaking)20
CLB/NCLC 6 or higher (6 for each Reading, Writing, Learning and Speaking)25


(Maximum of 10 points)

Mandatory requirement

High-school Diploma equivalent to Canadian standards (mandatory minimum)4
Associate Degree or Diploma (at least one year)7
Bachelor’s degree or higher10
Adaptability Factors (35 points)

Canada/Alberta experience from work or studies within the past 10 years

(Maximum of 15 points)

Not a mandatory requirement

In rural Alberta
12 to 24 months10
More than 24 months15

And / Or 

In non-rural Alberta (Calgary and Edmonton Census Metropolitan Area)

18 to 30 months6
More than 30 months10

And / Or 

In Canada

24 to 36 months3
More than 36 months5

Relative(s) in the community or Alberta 

(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
Relative(s) living in Alberta5
Relative(s) living in the community where you intend to reside and operate a business10

Spouse’s/Common-law partner’s Language Proficiency or Education 

(Maximum of 5 points)

Not a mandatory requirement

Proficiency in English or French:
CLB/NCLC 4 (4 for each Reading, Writing, Learning and Speaking)3
CLB/NCLC 5 (5 for each Reading, Writing, Learning and Speaking)4
CLB/NCLC 6 or higher (6 or higher for each Reading, Writing, Learning and Speaking)5
and / or Education:
Certificate, Associate Degree or Diploma (at least one year)3
Bachelor’s degree or higher5


(Maximum of 5 points)

Not a mandatory requirement

21 to 495
Maximum Points 175

Selection and notification process

Once the AAIP receives your Business Application, it is assessed against eligibility criteria and your EOI Points are verified. A Program Officer from the AAIP 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 Business Application Approval Letter and/or nomination certificate. Review the declaration for the Rural Entrepreneur Stream available on the AAIP Portal and the Program’s 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 the Rural 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 Program for a specified period of time. You will be declined under the Rural Entrepreneur Stream if you apply during the specified period.
  • you have a removal order issued against you by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) or Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)
  • 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

Established businesses in Alberta

Recognizing the economic contributions by foreign entrepreneurs in Alberta who currently own and operate a business in Alberta, the AAIP is providing an immigration pathway for these entrepreneurs to apply for permanent residency.

Entrepreneurs who currently own and operate a business in a rural Alberta community can apply to the AAIP and must demonstrate they meet the criteria highlighted in the Rural 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. Furthermore, the Community Support letter must be included with the EOI submission.

EOI submissions are scored based on the Rural Entrepreneur Stream Points grid and candidates with the highest-ranking points are requested to submit a Business Application to the AAIP. Entrepreneurs who have already established businesses in rural Alberta communities and are currently operating them are not required to operate their business for an additional one year after applying to the AAIP. Eligible entrepreneurs are issued a nomination certificate after submitting their Business Application to the Program and must continue to operate their business in Alberta while they go through the permanent residence application process with IRCC. Refer to after you are nominated for more information on next steps.

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 EOI or Business Application may be declined.

Business must have the potential for creating economic benefit to Alberta, as in the opinion of and as determined by the AAIP. A proposed business must align with the following general requirements to be eligible under the Rural 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 certification required 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 a rural Alberta community 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 51% of the business if it is a new business, or have 100% ownership of the business if you are purchasing an already established business (business succession). 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, 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

Ineligible businesses include:

  • 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 or lack active management, including:
    • property rental, investment, and leasing activities
    • real estate development/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 and:
    • are owned or operated by a relative of the candidate
    • were previously owned/operated by a current or former AAIP entrepreneur stream candidate/nominee within the past 4 years
    • have changed ownership within the past 3 years prior to the Rural Entrepreneur Stream Business 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, in the opinion of and as determined by the AAIP


Connect with us if you have questions about this program:
Email: [email protected]