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If you have studied in Nova Scotia and want to set up a business after obtaining permanent residence, the Nova Scotia International Graduate Entrepreneur Stream could be the Canadian immigration route you’re looking for.

This is a selective stream, usually only issuing one or two invitations in each invitation round. However, if you satisfy the criteria, it could provide the support and assistance you need to both set up a business and obtain Canadian permanent resident status.

Nova Scotia International Graduate Entrepreneur: Eligibility requirements

Potential applicants must have completed a study program of at least two years’ duration at a recognized university in Nova Scotia, or at the Nova Scotia Community College, in order to be eligible.

Applicants must also have started or acquired a business in Nova Scotia, and need to actively run the business for a year before applying to the stream. They must be earning a salary from the business that meets the national Low Income Cut-Off, and own 33.3% of the equity of the business.

The stream is divided into two categories: Starting a New Business and Purchasing an Existing Business. Applicants who have started a new business must have created at least one full-time or equivalent part-time job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Applicants who have purchased a business must have offered employment to the existing staff on similar terms, and the business must have been operating continuously under the same owner for at least five years before the applicant bought the business.

Furthermore, candidates must:

  • have lived in Nova Scotia during their studies,
  • have a valid Post-Graduation Work Permit at the time of application,
  • demonstrate an intent to settle in Nova Scotia,
  • have a language level of at least Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 in all four competencies, in either English or French, as shown by a recognized language test, and
  • be at least 21 years old.

It is important to note that not all businesses are eligible under the stream. Certain types of business are specifically excluded, including:

  • Businesses that are conducted remotely (from another Canadian jurisdiction or from another country), and businesses operated mainly to derive passive investment income.
  • Property rental, investment, and leasing businesses.
  • Real estate construction/development/brokerage, insurance brokerage or business brokerage, unless the applicant can prove the business is beneficial to the province.
  • Pay day loan, cheque cashing, money changing and cash machines, pawnbrokers, and credit unions.
  • Home-based businesses, unless the applicant can prove the business is beneficial to the province.
  • Co-operatives.
  • Joint ventures between NSNP program applicants.

How to apply

Applying to the Nova Scotia International Graduate Entrepreneur Stream is a four-step process.

  1. Eligible candidates must first submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) to the stream and enter a candidate pool. The EOI is ranked based on a points assessment (see below). EOIs can remain in the pool for 12 months, after which point they expire and the candidate may submit another one.
  2. The Nova Scotia Office of Immigration (NSOI) periodically selects EOIs and issues an Invitation to Apply (ITA) to the  Nova Scotia International Graduate Entrepreneur Stream. The candidate can then submit a full application, including all supporting documentation, within 90 days. This involves selecting a designated Audit Services Verifier to audit the financial statements of the business (an Audit Services Verifier must be selected within 20 days of receiving the ITA, in order to ensure the report may be submitted in time). The NSOI then assesses each application.
  3. Candidates who meet the criteria are invited to an in-person interview with NSOI staff. At this point, candidates may either be nominated for permanent residence, or refused.
  4. Successful candidates can then apply to the federal government for permanent resident status.

The EOI points grid

Candidates in the EOI pool for the  Nova Scotia International Graduate Entrepreneur Stream are ranked by points awarded according to the following grid. There is no stated minimum points total in order to be eligible.

Factor 1: Language

First official language

First official languagePoints awarded: SpeakingPoints awarded: ListeningPoints awarded: ReadingPoints awarded: WritingTotal points: (minimum 20 points required)
CLB 9+777728
CLB 8666624
CLB 7555520

Second official language

Second official languagePoints awarded
At least CLB 5 in all four abilities7

Factor 2: Education

Education: completed in Nova ScotiaPoints (maximum 25)
Diploma from a two-year post-secondary program12
Degree or diploma from a post-secondary program of three years or longer15
Two or more Canadian post-secondary degrees or diplomas (at least one must be completed in Nova Scotia, and of at least three years’ duration)17
Master’s level degree22
University-level entry-to-practice professional degree related to a TEER category 1 profession which is licensed by a provincial regulatory body22

Factor 3: Work experience

Work experiencePoints (maximum 15)
3 to 5 years’ work experience in the last 10 years at TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3.10
More than 5 years’ work experience in the last 10 years at TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3.15

Factor 4: Adaptability

AdaptabilityPoints (maximum 10)
Spouse or partner’s language level: at least CLB 4 in all abilities in English or French5
Spouse or partner’s past study in Nova Scotia: at least two academic years of full-time study at secondary or post-secondary level in Nova Scotia5
Spouse or partner’s past work in Nova Scotia: at least one year of full-time work in the province on a valid work permit5
Relatives in Nova Scotia: candidate or spouse/partner has a parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt/uncle, niece/nephew, aged 19 or older and living in Nova Scotia for at least one continues year as a Canadian citizen or permanent resident5

Factor 5: Age

Age at time of EOI submissionPoints

Factor 6: Nova Scotia Economic Priorities

Nova Scotia Economic PrioritiesPoints (maximum 5)
Export-oriented business5
Business located outside of Halifax County5
Purchasing an existing business (acquiring 100% of a business that has been operating continuously under the same owner for last five years)5

PNP Live Tracker

Nova Scotia immigration authorities have clarified that the Nova Scotia International Graduate Entrepreneur Stream is a pilot program, and therefore liable to change at any time. Make sure to stay up to date with all the latest developments in this and other Canadian immigration categories using the Moving2Canada PNP Live Tracker.

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