Launch Your Business In Alberta Through the New Foreign Graduate Start-up Visa Program!

Launched in January 2021, the Alberta Foreign Graduate Start-Up Visa Stream (FGSVS) is a new and exciting pathway to permanent residency for international graduates who have what it takes to launch start-up enterprises and innovative businesses in Alberta. The FGSVS welcomes business plans in any of the following sectors; technology, aerospace, financial services, energy, agriculture, tourism, life sciences, and pharmaceuticals.

Are you interested in immigrating to Alberta as a business owner? Learn more about the Foreign Graduate Start-Up Visa Stream and why Alberta is the ideal place to set up shop.

What is the Alberta Foreign Graduate Start-Up Visa Stream (FGSVS)?

young-professionals-looking-at-a-business-plan | immigrate o Alberta

The FGSVS is an economic immigration program that nominates international graduates for permanent residence upon launching successful start-up businesses in Alberta. The stream is a collaboration between the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) and approved designated agencies that support international graduates with their business ventures.

How to Apply for the Alberta Foreign Graduate Start-Up Visa Stream (FGSVS)?

The process of applying for permanent residency through a business immigration program like the FGSVS is long and complex with lots of documentation involved. The first step is to get approval for your business plan from a designated agency. Then, you need to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) through the Alberta Immigration Portal (AIP).

If you are selected from the pool of candidates you will receive a Business Performance Agreement (BPA) and a Canadian work permit to establish your business in Canada. If you successfully operate your business in Alberta for 12 months then you can apply for a nomination and with your nomination, you can apply for permanent residency.

Quick Overview

  1. Check the business requirements of the FGSVS
  2. Develop a good business plan
  3. Contact an FGSVS agency
  4. Receive a letter of recommendation
  5. Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI)
  6. Submit a Business Application
  7. Sign a Business Performance Agreement (BPA)
  8. Come to Alberta to Establish Your Business
  9. Get Your AINP Nomination
  10. Apply for Permanent Residency in Canada

Use the professional help of authorized immigration representatives to guide you through the process.

Step 1: Approved Designated Agencies

There are two agencies approved as part of the FGSVS to determine the entrepreneurial readiness of an international graduate and the potential success of their business plan. They also support the development of a business by connecting the international graduate to the appropriate networks and providing necessary guidance and counseling. Ultimately, the agencies select graduates and recommend them to the province of Alberta.

Interested? Contact these agencies:

Empowered Startups

420-744 West Hastings

Vancouver, British Columbia

V6C 1A5

Phone: 604-229-1052

Fax: 604-229-2037



Platform Calgary

429 – 8 Avenue SE

Calgary, Alberta

T2G 0L6

Phone: 403-284-6400



Step 2: Meet the Requirements for the FGSVS

happy-couple-celebrating-good-news | Foreign Graduate Start-up Visa Program

If you want to immigrate to Canada through the FGSVS then you must meet the minimum requirements to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) through the AINP Portal. You will receive a score for each of the requirements listed below. For example, you can achieve more points for language proficiency of level nine and higher. The AINP will score your EOI within 30 days of submission, and your EOI will remain valid for 12 months. If your EOI is not selected in this 12 month period, it will be canceled and you will have to submit a new EOI.

Requirements for the FGSVS
Area Requirements
Work experience Minimum of six months of full-time work experience that can be a combination of actively managing or owning the business.
Education Completion of a degree within the last two years. You must have an ECA.
Business plan Including projected financials
Pitch deck A 10-minute presentation for investors that outlines the proposed business.
Language Minimum level seven for each English or French language skill.
Business establishment Must have a minimum of 34% ownership if the business is located in an urban center or a minimum of 51% ownership is located in a regional area outside Calgary and Edmonton Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs).
Business investment The mandatory minimum investment for an urban center is $100,000 while the mandatory minimum investment for a regional area is $50,000.
Letter of recommendation A letter of recommendation from one of two designated agencies.
Settlement funds You must have enough settlement funds to support yourself while setting up your business in Alberta.

Step 3: Submit a Business Application

Check your email for a request to submit a Business Application through the EOI. A complete application must be submitted within 90 days of receiving the email from the AIP. It costs $3,500 to submit a Business Application and you must include the following supporting documents:

  • Valid passport;
  • Work permit (if applicable);
  • Copy of your Language assessment;
  • Copy of your ECA;
  • Any licenses, registration, and certification documents required to work in your occupation in Alberta;
  • Business Plan Evaluation Report; and
  • Reference letter(s) for your Business Ownership, Management, Business Incubator, or Business Accelerator experience.

Step 4: Sign a Business Performance Agreement (BPA)

woman-on-a-bench-with-her-laptop | business immigration to Canada

Your Business Application and supporting documents will be assessed, and if you meet all of the FGSVS requirements, you will be sent a Business Performance Agreement (BPA) by email for your review and signature. This is a legal agreement between you and the province of Alberta. The BPA will include:

  • the industry sector that your business will operate within;
  • the term length of the agreement; and
  • a list of other information relevant to your Business Application, for example, job creation, business succession, and business location.

Step 5: Establish your Business in Alberta

As soon as you receive your Business Application Approval Letter and your work permit, you can come to Canada to establish your business by following the conditions of the BPA and successfully operate your business for 12 months.

Step 6: Get Your AINP Nomination

At last, you can submit a Final Report for AINP Nomination along with supporting documents. If you are issued a nomination then you and your dependents can apply for permanent residence from the Federal Government of Canada.

Why Should You Start Your Business in Alberta?

It's a popular spot for investment. According to the provincial government, Alberta has the second-highest per capita investment among the provinces, just behind Newfoundland and Labrador.

And there are a few good reasons for it too!

Alberta borders the United States to the south which can make the import and export of goods and services even easier for your business.

You’ll also have access to an educated and hardworking workforce. In 2016, Alberta’s business sector had the highest labor productivity level in the country. The total value added per hour worked in Alberta exceeded the Canadian average by about 39 percent! To top it off, 68 percent of the workforce holds a university degree post-secondary diploma or certificate.

Alberta is best known for its oil and gas industry that produces about 80 percent of Canada’s crude oil and accounts for 16 percent of the province's GDP. Not only does the province dominate in primary and secondary industries such as agricultural, forestry, and manufacturing but Alberta is also committed to working with entrepreneurs to support new technology, increase commercialization and develop new markets and opportunities.

Alberta Major Exports | infographic

Source: Alberta Government

Alberta has one of the most competitive business tax environments in North America. The combined federal and provincial corporate income tax rate in Alberta is 27 percent compared to 38 percent in the United States. The combined federal and provincial corporate income tax rate for small businesses in Alberta is 12.5 percent.

Alberta Corporate Tax

Source: Alberta Government

Be Your Own Boss in Alberta

The Foreign Graduate Start-up Visa Stream is the perfect way to start, manage and own a business in Canada while working towards a permanent future in the country for you and your family. Each step in the immigration application process is extremely important with very specific documentation and eligibility requirements to adhere to. Make your business dreams possible with the professional help and guidance of certified specialists who can guide you every step of the way and handle the entire application process on your behalf.

Interested in pursuing business immigration to Canada? Simply, fill in the form below to get started.