The province of Alberta has a unique immigration stream for international students who wish to establish their own business in Alberta, called the International Graduate Entrepreneur Immigration Stream (“IGEIS”). The purpose of the program is to allow Alberta to issue provincial nominations for permanent residence to international graduates from Alberta post-secondary institutions who want to establish or operate a business in Alberta.
In order to qualify for the IGEIS, Applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Education: Complete at least two years of full-time education in Alberta, resulting in a degree or diploma from a designated post-secondary institution in Alberta.
- Work Permit: Apply for and obtain a Post-Graduation Work Permit from the Canadian government, which must be valid for at least two years and must be valid at the time of application to the IGEIS.
- Language Skills: Obtain a Canadian Language Benchmark score of 7 in all four language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing), in the two years preceding the application.
- Business: Establish an eligible new business or buy an existing business in Alberta, with at least 34% ownership. The other owner(s) must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
- Admissibility: Applicants must satisfy all admissibility requirements set by Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada.
There are other factors that may supplement an application under the IGEIS including the total economic benefit your business will bring to Alberta (e.g. how many jobs it will create, where it will be located, whether it has support from investors or venture capitalists etc). Other factors include the Applicant’s age; the education, language skills and work experience of your spouse; and whether you have any family in Alberta.
The first step for Applicants under this category is to obtain a study permit to study for at least two years in Alberta. Following the completion of the study programs, Applicants must apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit. Once they have a valid work permit, Applicants can then submit an Expression of Interests (EOI) under the IGEIS, along with a Business Proposal Summary and Net Worth Worksheet. Based on these documents Applicants will be awarded points and the those with the highest-ranking scores may be invited to submit a Business Application by the province of Alberta.
Once you receive an invitation, you must apply for permanent residence within six months, and you must continue to live and work in Alberta while your application is being processed. This means that if your work permit will expire before you receive a final decision on your permanent residence application, you must apply for an extension of the work permit to continue working in Alberta with authorization.
Future entrepreneurs either currently studying in Alberta or international students looking for international study options that lead to permanent residency and citizenship, will find Alberta’s IGEIS to be a great fit for their future plans. The program helps Applicants not only gain permanent residence in Canada, but also allows the opportunity to study, work, and establish yourself and your business in Canada smoothly. By the time Applicants under this program obtain their permanent residence, they will already be well established and working towards building their own business in Alberta.
If you have questions about this program, or are interested in immigrating to or studying in Canada, please reach out to us at [email protected].