COVID-19 response

The AINP continues to accept and process applications and Expressions of Interest (EOIs), with temporary adjustments to some application and assessment processes.

Find out how the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program is responding to COVID-19.

Overview

The Foreign Graduate Start-Up Visa Stream (FGSVS) is an economic immigration program that nominates talented and qualified foreign educated graduates from outside Canada for permanent residence upon launching start-up enterprises and innovative businesses in Alberta. The FGSVS is a collaboration between the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) and approved designated agencies.

Foreign graduates who are interested in applying under the FGSVS must work with a designated agency. The designated agency will issue a letter of recommendation if it deems that the foreign graduate meets the AINP requirements. The foreign graduate must submit the letter of recommendation with their Expression of Interest (EOI) through the AINP Portal.

The designated agency will review business plans based on the foreign graduate’s ability to demonstrate market need or demand, the potential for successful market entry in the short-term to medium-term, customer acquisition, business development, key partnerships and financial plans to fund the development and operation of the start-up. The designated agency will provide a written report on their assessment of the proposed business plan. Foreign graduates must submit this report with their FGSVS Business Application.

Approved Designated Agencies

The role of the designated agency is to:

  • support the marketing of FGSVS
  • determine the entrepreneurial readiness of a foreign graduate and the potential success of the start-up by reviewing the business idea and provide support on the development of a business plan
  • select foreign graduates to recommend for the AINP
  • connect foreign graduates with the appropriate networks, and provide business counselling, coaching and guidance when launching their business in Alberta and while they are trying to achieve the requirements of the Business Performance Agreement (BPA)

Foreign graduates who are interested in applying to the FGSVS should contact the following approved designated agencies:

Empowered Startups
420-744 West Hastings
Vancouver, British Columbia
V6C 1A5
Phone: 604-229-1052
Fax: 604-229-2037
Website: empoweredstartups.com
Email: [email protected]

Platform Calgary
429 – 8 Avenue SE
Calgary, Alberta
T2G 0L6
Phone: 403-284-6400
Website: www.platformcalgary.com/programs-and-events/foreign-grad/
Email: [email protected]

Eligibility criteria

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

Table 1. Requirements for FGSVS.

Area Requirements
Work experience Minimum of 6 months full-time work experience that can be a combination of actively managing or owning the business or equivalent (equivalencies are work experience with business incubator or business accelerator).
Education Completion of a degree from a post-secondary institution outside of Canada with an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA).

This degree must:

  • have been completed within the last 2 years at the time of EOI submission, and
  • must be equivalent to a Canadian degree.

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

Business plan A business plan with projected financials. Refer to the Business Plan Guidelines.
Pitch deck A 10-minute presentation (slides only) that outlines the proposed business venture and focuses on what an investor would want to see.
Language 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 two years old at the time of EOI submission. The AINP only accepts the following language tests:

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

Business establishment Must have a minimum of 34% ownership if the business is located in an urban centre or a minimum of 51% ownership if located in regional area outside Calgary and Edmonton Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs).
Business investment A minimum level of investment from candidate’s (or spouse or common-law partner) own equity or from a recognized Canadian financial institution, venture capital, or angel investment firm prior to coming to Alberta. The mandatory minimum investment for an urban centre is $100,000 while the mandatory minimum investment for a regional area is $50,000. Higher levels of investment prior to coming to Alberta will be awarded more points. Points are awarded for urban centre or regional area, not both.
Letter of recommendation Must have a letter of recommendation from an AINP-approved designated agency.
Settlement funds Candidates must demonstrate that they have the funds needed to set up their business and support themselves while they are on a work permit and launching their start-up.

Minimum settlement funds requirements will be based on the Low Income Cut-Offs (LICOs).

Refer to Table 2 below.

The amount of settlement funds required in Table 2 is based on the number of family members (including yourself) and the population size of the community where you intend to establish your business. The amount stated in the chart are the funds needed for at least the next 6 months to settle and support yourself (and your family, if applicable) while establishing your business venture in Alberta.

Table 2. Settlement funds requirement for FGSVS in Canadian dollars.

  Population size of community and funds required
Source: Statistics Canada
Number of family members Less than 1,000 1,000 to 30,000 30,000 to 99,999 100,000 to 499,999 500,000 and over
1 $8,922 $10,151 $11,093 $12,961 $12,960
2 $11,107 $12,636 $13,810 $16,135 $16,135
3 $13,655 $15,534 $16,977 $19,836 $19,836
4 $16,579 $18,861 $20,613 $24,084 $24,083
5 $18,803 $21,392 $23,379 $27,315 $27,315
6 $21,208 $24,127 $26,367 $30,807 $30,806
7 $23,611 $26,861 $29,356 $34,299 $34,299

AINP self-assessment tool

To ensure you meet program eligibility requirements, use the AINP self-assessment tool.

Expression of interest selection

The AINP is currently accepting EOIs under the FGSVS. The information provided will be assessed and points will be awarded based on the FGSVS points grid below. Candidates with the highest-ranking points will be invited to submit a Business Application.

Information to be assessed include:

  • EOI
  • Business Plan
  • Pitch Deck
  • Net Worth Worksheet
  • Letter of Recommendation from a Designated Agency
  • and if applicable:
    • Authorization to Collect and Disclose Personal Information for Spouse, Common-Law Partners and Dependents

For more information on the application process, see How to Apply

Points grid

Table 3. FGSVS points grid.

Criteria Description Points
Human capital
Language proficiency
  • Maximum of 30 points
  • Mandatory requirement
First official language  
CLB 7 (7 for each reading, writing, listening and speaking) (mandatory minimum) 10
CLB 8 (8 for each reading, writing, listening and speaking) 20
CLB 9 or higher (9 for each reading, writing, listening and speaking) 30
Education
  • Maximum of 35 points
  • Mandatory requirement
Minimum requirement is the completion of a degree from a post-secondary institution outside of Canada within the last 2 years with an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA).

Education credential must be equivalent to Canadian standards.

 
Bachelor’s degree (mandatory minimum) 5
Master’s degree 10
Doctoral degree 15
Preference given to candidates with the following degrees:  
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics 10
Business 10
Busness management, ownership or equivalent
  • Equivalencies are work experience with business incubator or business accelerator
  • Maximum 35 bonus points
  • Mandatory requirement
Business ownership or management experience (more points allocated for additional years of experience)  
6 months (mandatory minimum) 5
more than 6 months to less than 1 year 10
1 to 2 years 15
More than 2 years 20
Preference will be given to candidates with business ownership experience. 15
Business Factors
Business Plan
  • Maximum of 40 points
  • Mandatory requirement
A business plan with projected financial information. Business plan guidelines are available on the AINP website. 40
Investment: prior to coming to Alberta
  • Maximum 25 points
  • Mandatory requirement
Minimum level of investment from candidate’s own equity, and/or from a recognized Canadian financial institution, venture capital, or angel investment firm before coming to Alberta.

(Candidates with higher levels of investment available before coming to Alberta will be awarded more points. Points will also be awarded for urban centre or regional area, not both).

Urban centre: Edmonton and Calgary Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs)

Regional area: Communities outside the Edmonton and Calgary CMAs

Urban centre:

 
$100,000 (mandatory minimum) 5
$100,001 to $150,000 11
$150,001 to $200,000 18
Over $200,000 25
Or, Regional area:  
$50,000 (mandatory minimum) 5
$50,001 to $100,000 11
$100,001 to $150,000 18
Over $150,000 25
Proposed investment: additional investment after launch
  • Maximum 20 points
  • Not a mandatory requirement
Additional investment after launching start-up from candidate’s own equity, or from recognized Canadian financial institution, venture capital, or angel investment firm.

Higher levels of investment after launch will be awarded more points. Points awarded for urban centre or regional area, not both.

Urban centre: Edmonton and Calgary Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs)

Regional area: Communities outside the Edmonton and Calgary CMAs Urban centre:

 
$100,000 to $150,000 5
$150,001 to $200,000 10
$200,001 to $250,000 15
Over $250,000 20
Or, regional area:  
$50,000 to $100,000 5
$100,001 to $150,000 10
$150,001 to $200,000 15
Over $200,000 20
Job Creation
  • Maximum of 15 points
  • Not a mandatory requirement
Jobs must be created for Canadian citizens or permanent residents (not including relatives) for a period of at least 6 months.  
1 job 5
2 jobs 10
3 jobs or more 15
Total points: maximum   200

Table 4. FGSVS mandatory minimums, pass or fail grid.

Criteria Description Pass or Fail
Ownership of start-up
  • Mandatory minimum
Must have a minimum of 34% ownership in an urban centre or a minimum of 51% ownership if the business is located in a regional community. Pass or Fail
Businesses in key or priority sectors
  • Mandatory minimum
Business plan or pitch deck must indicate business connected to one of the following sectors:
  • technology
  • aerospace
  • financial services
  • energy
  • agriculture
  • tourism
  • life sciences
  • pharmaceuticals
Pass or Fail
Settlement Funds
  • Mandatory minimum
Candidates must demonstrate they have funds to support themselves while they are on a work permit and launching their start-up in Alberta. Minimum settlement funds required will be based on the Low Income Cut-Offs (LICOs). Refer to the Settlement Fund section. Pass or Fail
Pitch Deck
  • Mandatory minimum
A 10-minute presentation (slides only) that describes the foreign graduate and their venture focused on what an investor would want to see. Pass or Fail
Letter of Recommendation
  • Mandatory minimum
The candidate must have a letter of recommendation from an AINP approved designated agency. Pass or Fail

Selection and notification process

Once the AINP receives your Business Application, it will be assessed against the eligibility criteria, and your EOI points will be verified. An AINP officer may contact you for more information.

The AINP 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 Foreign Graduate Entrepreneur Start-up Visa Stream available on the AINP Portal and the AINP Terms and Conditions for complete information.

Submission of a Business Application or nomination by the AINP does not guarantee you will be issued a permanent resident visa.

Ineligibility

You are not eligible to apply under FGSVS if:

  • you have an active nomination, which has not expired and/or is eligible for extension under another AINP stream – candidates are only eligible for one AINP Nomination Certificate
  • you have been issued a letter on a previous AINP application that stated you are not eligible to re-apply to the AINP for a specified period of time – if you submit an application during the specified period, it will be declined
  • persons who have had a removal order issued against them by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) or Canada Border Services Agency
  • refugee claimants or individuals involved in a federal appeal or removal process – the AINP 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 listed below

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.

The proposed business must have the potential for creating economic benefit to Alberta, in the opinion of and as determined by the AINP. A proposed business must align with the following requirements to be eligible under the FGSVS:

  • 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 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. See the list of designated trades in Alberta (PDF, 314 KB)
  • The business plan or pitch deck must indicate the proposed business is connected to one of the following sectors: technology, aerospace, financial services, energy, agriculture, tourism, life sciences, and pharmaceuticals.
  • 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 a minimum of 34% of the business in an urban centre, or a minimum of 51% of the business in a regional area. 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

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: insurance brokerage or business brokerage
  • project based or seasonal businesses
  • home-based businesses, including bed-and-breakfasts and lodging houses
  • businesses that are part of a succession plan
  • 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 AINP and the Government of Alberta into disrepute, in the opinion of and as determined by the AINP

Contact

If you have questions about this program, submit an email to [email protected]