The Northwest Territories Business Stream welcomes business people with the resources and drive to establish, buy, or invest in a business in the Northwest Territories.
Through the Northwest Territories Business Stream, the Northwest Territories Nominee Program (NTNP) welcomes ideas for business that will bring economic prosperity and job opportunities to the area, and supports applicants throughout the process of establishing a business in the territory and eventually applying for Canadian permanent resident status.
Successful applicants to the Northwest Territories Business Stream obtain support from the territory to apply to the Canadian government for a two-year work permit, so that they can start running their business in the territory. After successfully operating a business for 19 months, candidates may obtain a nomination and apply to the federal government for permanent resident status for themselves, and any dependents.
Applying to the Northwest Territories Business Stream involves long-term collaboration with the Northwest Territories government, and a significant financial commitment. If you are interested in applying through the Northwest Territories Business Stream, it is recommended you first get in touch with the NTNP to explore your options. In the meantime, here is an overview of the process.
Applying through the Northwest Territories Business Stream involves an eight-step process.
- Self-Assessment and Initial Investigations – in the early stages of the process, candidates review the eligibility criteria and develop a business plan.
Eligibility requirements for the Northwest Territories Business Stream
In order to be eligible, candidates must:
- Invest at least $300,000 CAD in starting or buying a business in Yellowknife, or $150,000 CAD if outside Yellowknife.
- Have a personal net worth of at least $500,000 CAD if starting or buying a business in Yellowknife, or at least $250,000 CAD if outside Yellowknife. Net worth must be verified by a Financial Services Provider.
- Demonstrate ownership of at least one-third (33.3%) of the proposed business (if the investment is over $1mn CAD the ownership share can be lower).
- Demonstrate (through valid results from an approved test) a minimum level of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 4 in English or French – test results must be no older than six months at the time of application.
- Submit a good faith deposit of $75,000 CAD to the Department of Industry, Tourism, and Investment – this is held in trust and released after the satisfactory execution of the Business Performance Agreement (see below in step 6).
- Demonstrate reasonable knowledge and understanding of the Northwest Territories and its economy.
- Have the necessary experience and education to execute the business plan.
- Possess sufficient financial resources to start and operate a business, and support themselves and any dependents.
- Not have an active application with any other provincial or territorial nominee program, or with any other stream of the NTNP. Refugee claimants are not permitted to apply.
Potential applicants are encouraged to learn about the Northwest Territories while developing a working business concept. The NTNP clarifies that a working business concept can really be anything: identifying a business opportunity, investing in an existing business, or starting from scratch to pitch a completely new business.
However, there are some important exceptions for ineligible business. For example, restaurants within Yellowknife city limits, seasonal business open less than six months a year, bed and breakfasts, property management, real estate development, and others. See the full list in the stream guide.
If an applicant intends to buy a business, the business must have been in continuous operation under the same owner for the previous three years. The applicant must not reduce the number of jobs in the business or the wages of the workers after the business is purchased.
The NTNP also clearly discourages candidates from investing before the process is started. Any investment or financial commitment made before signing the Business Performance Agreement (see below in step 6) between the candidate and the NTNP will not be counted towards the investment minimum.
- Further Investigations and Face-to-Face Interview(s) – Before an application is submitted, a prospective applicant must make at least one trip to the Northwest Territories to explore the business environment of the territory, and research what it takes to run a business there. The trip must include at least four full business days (not including travel days or civic holidays) to the site of the proposed business.
This exploratory trip is followed up by an interview (or more than one) with Northwest Territories Business Stream Nominee Program staff, to review the proposed business concept and assess the prospective applicant’s business experience, communication skills, and knowledge of the Northwest Territories. Interviewees are required to submit a brief summary of their proposed business concept at least 24 hours before the interview.
This interview can be scheduled right after the conclusion of the minimum four days of the trip, and prospective applicants are encouraged to request and schedule an interview before planning a trip, as scheduling is at the discretion of the NTNP.
A prospective applicant needs to submit several forms before an interview – full details be found in the stream guide.
Prospective applicants should note that if they plan to buy a business, the current owner will also be interviewed separately. Immigration representatives can be engaged for the application process, but are not permitted in the interview.
- Initiating the Application Process and Pre-Screening – also known as the Expression of Interest, this is the point when prospective applicants can submit an initial application.
Prospective applicants are told in their interview whether they are able to continue to the application stage or not. If they demonstrate acceptable business knowledge and communication skills, and provide an interesting business concept, they have 60 days to submit a written summary of the working business concept, including a basic outline of proposed investments, and a summary of their business trip to the Northwest Territories (a template is included in the stream guide).
If the Department of Industry, Tourism, and Investment is satisfied with the submission, the potential applicant receives an invitation to apply.
- Formal Application – Once a candidate receives an invitation to apply, he or she can submit a formal application by mail, in person, or by email, including required forms, a financial verification, and a detailed business plan. The application must be submitted within six months of receiving the invitation to apply. Only complete applications will be reviewed, and all documents must be submitted at once.
The full list of documents can be accessed on the Business Stream Nominee Application Checklist form, which must also be included in the application.
- Application Review – NTNP staff review the application and obtain a third-party identity verification report. Further information, documents, or even an interview may be required. Once the candidate and business plan have been fully assessed for their potential to create jobs, contribute to the economy, and remain sustainable (further elements contribute to the assessment as well), the NTNP makes a recommendation to either accept or deny the application. The final decision is made by the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Department of Industry, Tourism, and Investment, and the candidate is informed.
- Approval and the Business Performance Agreement – the Business Performance Agreement is a key document that forms the basis of the candidate’s progression to permanent resident status. Developed in collaboration between the candidate and the NTNP, this agreement is based on the business plan and outlines how the candidate will operate the business. Upon signing, a candidate must submit a $75,000 deposit and another form. The NTNP then issues a letter of support for a two-year work permit, so the candidate can apply to the Canadian government for a temporary work permit (the NTNP notes that this is no guarantee a work permit application will be approved).
The Business Performance Agreement also outlines residency requirements – the candidate must live within 100km of their business, and live in the Northwest Territories for at least 75% of the time while on a temporary work permit.
- Developing the Business – Once the temporary work permit is approved and signed, the candidate has 60 days to submit a further form and documents. After submission, he or she has a further six months to start the business and make the investment outlined in the Business Performance agreement.
NTNP staff monitor the candidate’s progress through support meetings and interim reports. A candidate must demonstrate that he or she is actively managing daily operations in a business in order to be eligible for nomination. Candidates may become eligible for nomination in the nineteenth month after the Business Performance Agreement starts, if the business has been operating for at least 12 months according to the business plan and the requirements of the agreement.
- Nomination – Once the applicant is accepted and the business plan is implemented, the NTNP will issue a nomination certificate and the applicant, and any dependents, can apply for Canadian permanent resident status.
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