Canada PR after graduation | Start your own business
Are you an international student who graduated from a public university and wants to become self-employed and PR? Everyone knows that most job offers and Express Entry streams do not allow self-employed work experience.
In these 6 provinces, all international students can nominate themselves for PR through their own companies. We’ll discuss eligibility today. Don’t beg your employers for sponsorships or nominations or go through all that stress—partner up with another graduate to start a business (see specific provincial restrictions below) and take control of your PR path!
Six provinces and territories now offer the International Graduate Entrepreneur program, up from three.
This program is for international students who graduate from a public post-secondary institution in one of the eligible provinces, start or buy a business, become self-employed, meet program eligibility, and apply for PR under these provincial programs. This means you started or bought a business and offered yourself a PR job through the provincial program.
International Graduate Entrepreneur Program
Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and New Brunswick formed the Atlantic provinces. Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba (with a pilot program) followed suit. These 6 provinces offer PR self-employed international student entrepreneur programs as of December 2022.
We ranked the 6 best PR flexibility programs!
- Alberta (accepts international students from any province)
- Manitoba (6-month fast-track)
- Saskatchewan (flexible and can apply with another graduate)
- Nova Scotia
- New Brunswick
International Graduate Entrepreneur Program Eligibility Requirements
Eligibility Criteria for this international graduate stream are:
- Valid Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP).
- Own and run a business in the province.
- Must own at least 33.33% of the business (except for Manitoba, which requires 51% equity to be controlled by the applicant, and Alberta, which requires 34% control).
- Run it in the province for at least a year (except Manitoba, which is 6 months).
- Have a 2-year post-secondary degree or diploma from a provincial public college or university (All provinces).
- All provinces require IELTS 6, CLB 7, CELPIP, or French equivalent.
- All provinces except Alberta require residency during initial studies.
- 21 (except Alberta). Manitoba has a 35-year-old limit.
- Owners must be able to pay themselves a salary according to the Low Income Cut-Off Table (LICO) published on the Government of Canada website (example: $26,620 for 1 adult as of 2022 figures, which will be adjusted each year and depends on family size). All stream provinces must do this.
- It must have revenues and no losses, but it doesn’t have to be profitable as long as you can pay yourself and everyone else’s salaries and business expenses without losses and have positive cash flow with the potential to become profitable.
- You must be nominated after a company financial audit.
- The business should benefit the province economically.
- Business buyers must retain all jobs.
- PNP office interview.
After your expression of interest, invitation, application, and audit for these provincial programs, you will be interviewed and processed for a provincial nomination to apply for your PR (and you can extend your PGWP if it is expiring to stay in Canada until your PR is processed). For a Bridging Open Work Permit, you must be nominated and apply for PR.
Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) Eligibility Requirements
At application, your PGWP must be valid for 24 months.
- Your Business Performance Agreement should last 24 months, but you can apply for nomination after 12 months in the province.
- This province allows joint applicants to run a business and be nominated (so you could pool your funds to buy or start a business with a fellow graduate).
- They dislike wholesale trading and import/export without value. The PDF guide is on the SINP website.
Based on age, education, and minimum language exam score, you can easily get 20 to 35 SINP points. Tech-related or non-capital region items may earn 30 or more points. If your partner or spouse has studied in this province or worked for at least six months while you have, you get 20 bonus points right away.
Nova Scotia International Graduate Entrepreneur Eligibility Requirements
- Create a full-time job for Canadian citizens and PR.7
- You will score 42 points if you meet the minimum eligibility criteria for this program and have at least three years of TEER level 0, 1, or 2 work experience in the last 10 years, including overseas. To reach 47 points, you need age points (21–55 to get at least 5 bonus points), a CLB 4 language score from your spouse or partner, or one year of work experience in the province. So easy! Purchase a business for 5 bonus points. You only need 47 at this point to be invited by the Nova Scotia Provincial Nominee Office.
- Nova Scotia’s first draw after one year on November 22, 2022: 6 nominations with minimum 47 points.
Manitoba International Student Entrepreneur Pilot Eligibility Requirements
All applicants must attend a Manitoba PNP information session before applying.
- Getting your business plan approved before starting the 6-month operation.
- Unlike Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan, Manitoba has no points-based system for this stream.
- This province allows 20 students per year.
- Run the business for 6 months before nomination.
- The maximum applicant age is 35.
- A province-approved third party must verify your net worth and source of funds.
- Own at least 51% of the business.
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Alberta Graduate Entrepreneur Stream Eligibility Requirements
- Applicants can start a business without invitation or approval.
- All business partners in this province must be Canadian citizens or PRs (see Saskatchewan for better options to partner with fellow alumni).
- These factors increase your chances of being approved and invited by the Alberta provincial nomination office for PR: A) Minimum six months of business management or ownership experience in Canada or abroad. If you studied an Alberta PNP-approved entrepreneurship program, you can skip this. B) Hiring Canadians, buying a business, having incubators, angel investors, or VCs, or having intellectual property. or being between 21 and 49 (this is not required, but preferred).
- Having relatives in the province, having your spouse/partner study/work there, or proving language ability increases your chances of selection.
- Use this official government self-assessment tool on the AINP website to check your eligibility in minutes, click here.
- International graduates who have already started businesses in Alberta will not have to operate them for another year after applying to the AAIP.
- International graduates from ANY province who own and operate a business in Alberta and reside here (after graduating from another province) are also eligible if they have been running their business for at least 12 months before applying.
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Immigration Strategies to Consider
- You can start your business while studying and without a PGWP. If you have a successful business that pays you and hires Canadians, you can skip the 12-month waiting period to apply for these provincial programs. Note these hack exceptions: The Saskatchewan and Manitoba programs require business plan approval and attendance at a local info seminar.
- If you don’t have business experience before coming to Canada, study entrepreneurship in Alberta.
- Alberta lets you start a business there if you studied elsewhere.
- Another interesting fact is that if none of these programs fit you or the destination province is not your preferred choice, the original Entrepreneur programs anywhere in Canada can accept international student graduates who want to and qualify to invest for PR (such as BC PNP base category Entrepreneur or Ontario PNP, etc.) – so your options are endless. These programs have stricter qualifications and investment requirements, but if you are a mature student with a history, that may be an option.
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