Nova Scotia Nominee Program: Entrepreneur Stream

Nova Scotia Nominee Program: Entrepreneur Stream

The Nova Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP) Entrepreneur Stream is designed to attract individuals who wish to start or acquire a business and settle permanently in Nova Scotia.

This stream is for experienced business owners and senior business managers intending to live in Nova Scotia and participate in the day-to-day management of the business. The NSNP Entrepreneur Stream is a temporary to permanent residence program whereby approved applicants are required to operate a business in the province of Nova Scotia on a valid work permit for a minimum of one continuous year prior to being nominated for permanent residence in Canada. It functions on an Expression of Interest (EOI) system.

This page will cover the following topics:


The Nomination Process

There are six steps to the nomination process:


Step 1: Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) to the Province of Nova Scotia

Prospective immigrants will indicate their interest in operating a business and residing in Nova Scotia by completing an Expression of Interest (EOI) in the form of a short online survey. On this survey, candidates will provide required information about their business ownership or management experience, language, education, investment, net worth, age, adaptability, and business. Only applicants who meet the minimum criteria will be able to submit an EOI. Candidates will be assessed based on a points matrix according to their profile and then assigned a score and added to the EOI pool. EOIs can remain in the pool for up to one year from the date of receipt. If the EOI is not selected during this time, it will be removed from the pool. After this point candidates may submit a new EOI if they so choose. If candidates are able to acquire additional points after submitting their EOI, they will need to submit a new one.


Step 2: Invitation to Apply

Top scoring applicants will be notified by the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration (NSOI) that they are being invited to submit a formal application to the Nova Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP) in the form of an Invitation to Apply (ITA) letter. Complete applications received from those invited to apply will then undergo an assessment by the NSOI.

Complete applications are expected to contain the following:

  • A complete application form (submitted within 90 days of the issuance of the ITA letter);
  • All supporting documentation (submitted within 90 days of the issuance of the ITA letter);
  • A Business Establishment Plan (submitted within 90 days of the issuance of the ITA letter); and
  • A Net Worth Verification Report prepared by one of NSOI’s designated Net Worth Verifiers (submitted within 180 days of the issuance of the ITA letter).
    • NOTE: the candidate must notify the NSOI of his or her choice of Net Worth Verifier within 20 days of the issuance of the ITA letter.


Step 3: In-Person Interview and Business Performance Agreement

Once the application has been assessed by the NSOI, those candidates who meet the outlined eligibility requirements (see below) will be contacted about an in-person interview with an official of the NSOI. All interviews will take place in Nova Scotia and are expected to take place within 60 days of the candidate being contacted. If the interview is successful, the candidate will be sent a Business Performance Agreement to review and sign. A business Performance Agreement is a legal agreement with the province that states the amount of investment the candidate will make and the business sector in which the business will operate, along with any other relevant information. Unsuccessful interviews or failure to participate in the interview within the 60 day time limit will result in closure of the application.

The NSOI will issue an Entrepreneur Approval Letter and instructions on how to apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for a work permit upon receipt of the Business Performance Agreement. Candidates are required to apply to IRCC for a work permit within two months of the date on the Entrepreneur Approval Letter. If IRCC refuses the work permit application, the candidate will no longer be eligible under the NSNP Entrepreneur Stream.


Step 4: Temporary Work Permit and Business Establishment in Nova Scotia

Applicants who are successful in obtaining a work permit will be able to land in Nova Scotia with their family, settle, and start or acquire their business. Applicants are expected to do so within one year of receiving the Entrepreneur Approval Letter or their file will be closed. It is recommended that applicants start operating their business in Nova Scotia within six months of arriving in the province on a work permit.

Approved applicants must attend an arrival meeting with an NSOI officer within 60 days of their arrival date. Officers will answer any questions related to the terms of the Business Performance Agreement and may refer candidates to other relevant service providers for further guidance and information. Candidates are required to bring a signed Arrival Report to the meeting.


Step 5: Request for Nomination

Once an applicant satisfies the conditions of the Business Performance Agreement, including, but not limited to, making the mandatory investment, operating the business continuously for a minimum of one year, and submitting a Business Establishment Progress Report to the NSOI, he or she can then apply to be nominated for permanent residence by the province of Nova Scotia under the NSNP by submitting a Nomination Request Form. The Nomination Request Form will ask for details of the business and will require the submission of an audit opinion and Special Purpose Report, both of which must be provided by an NSOI designated Audit Services Verifier of the candidate's choosing.

The NSOI will communicate the nomination decision in writing to the applicant or their representative. If nominated by the NSNP:

  • The applicant will receive a letter from the NSOI to confirm that a Nomination has been issued; and
  • Proof of Nomination, which expires six months after the date of issuance, will be sent directly to IRCC by the NSOI.

In the event that the application is being considered for refusal, the applicant or their representative will receive a letter of intent to refuse from the NSOI. In this case, the applicant will be given 10 business days to submit additional information to be considered. After 10 business days the file, including any new information submitted, will be re-assessed and a final decision made, which will be sent in writing and which cannot be appealed.


Step 6: Apply for Permanent Residence

Upon nomination, the applicant will apply to IRCC for permanent residence within six months. Candidates should note that an NSNP nomination does not guarantee the issuance of a Permanent Resident Visa. If the application is approved by the visa office, the candidate will be issued a Confirmation of Permanent Residence. He or she is required to provide a copy of the confirmation to the NSOI within 30 business days.


Minimum Eligibility Criteria

Minimum Requirements for Applicants

In order to be eligible under the NSNP Entrepreneur Stream, applicants must:

  • Be at least 21 years old;
  • Have a minimum $600,000 CAD in Net Business and Personal Assets, verified by NSOI designated third party professionals;
  • Demonstrate accumulation of claimed net worth through legal means, verified by NSOI designated third party professionals;
  • Have a minimum of three years of business ownership experience including 33.33 percent ownership OR greater than five years of experience in a senior business manager role in the last 10 years;
  • Agree to make a minimum capital investment of $150,000 CAD to establish or purchase a business in Nova Scotia;
  • Demonstrate sufficient language abilities in either English or French verified by an approved language testing agency;
    • Sufficient language abilities are considered to be Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in all four components (listening, speaking, writing and reading).
    • The following are the approved language testing agencies under the PNP:
      • English:
        • Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) General test
        • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) General Training
      • French:
        • Test d’évaluation de français (TEF)
    • Language tests must be taken within two years prior to the date of EOI submission.
  • Have a minimum of a Canadian high school diploma OR an equivalent foreign credential verified by an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA), which is dated within the five years prior to the date of EOI submission;
  • Have a Business Establishment Plan and be able to demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the plan; and
  • Agree to reside in Nova Scotia.


Minimum Requirements for Businesses

In order to qualify as an eligible business under the Entrepreneur program, the following criteria must be met:

  • The applicant must own at least one third (33.33 percent) of the equity of the business;
  • The applicant must provide active and on-going participation in the day to day management and direction of the business from the place of business in Nova Scotia. The business must not be managed from another location in Nova Scotia or from another Canadian province or territory or other country;
  • The business must be a for-profit entity with the primary purpose of earning profits through the sale of goods and/or services;
  • The business must meet the legal requirements of the community in which it operates;
  • The business must be considered a “permanent establishment” as defined under subsection 400(2) of the Canadian Income Tax Regulations, 1985;
  • The business is liable to pay income tax on taxable income earned as a result of a “permanent establishment” in Nova Scotia, irrespective of income or other taxes which may also be payable in other jurisdictions as a result of income earned or other business activity; and
  • The business must have potential to create an economic benefit to Nova Scotia. For example:
    • Increasing value added through manufacturing or processing, exports, destination tourism, research and development, and technology commercialization,
    • Developing innovative approaches to traditional businesses,
    • Transferring technology and specialized knowledge to Nova Scotia, or
    • Providing products or services to an under-served local or regional market.


Additional Requirements for Starting a Business

If starting a business, the applicant must also:

  • Create at least one full time (or equivalent) employment opportunity for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident in Nova Scotia (non-relative workers). This position(s) must:
    • Be over and above any position filled by the approved applicant;
    • Be relevant and directly related to the applicant’s business; and
    • Meet the prevailing wage rates in the province.


Additional Requirements for Business Succession

If purchasing a previously existing Nova Scotia business, the following requirements must be met:

  • The business must have been in continuous operation by the same owner for the previous five years;
  • All applicants must complete an exploratory visit to meet the current owner(s);
  • Applicants must provide evidence that reasonable efforts were taken to establish a fair market value for the business;
  • The business must be actively in operation and not in receivership; and
  • Applicants must offer employment on similar terms and conditions to existing staff, including maintaining existing wages and employment terms.


Expression of Interest Points Matrix

When candidates submit their Expression of Interest in Step 1, a points matrix will be used to select the strongest applicants who best align with Nova Scotia’s business and economic priorities based on eight factors: language abilities, education, business ownership or management experience, level of investment in the business, net worth, age, adaptability, and Nova Scotia priorities.

Selection factor Points
Language abilities Maximum 35 points
Education Maximum 25 points
Business ownership or senior management experience Maximum 35 points
Net worth Maximum 10 points
Age Maximum 10 points
Adaptability Maximum 10 points
Nova Scotia economic priorities Maximum 10 points
Investment Maximum 15 points
Total Maximum 150 points
Factor 1: Language Abilities in English and/or French
First official language Points
Speaking Listening Reading Writing Total
CLB level 7 or higher 7 7 7 7 28
CLB level 6 6 6 6 6 24
CLB level 5 5 5 5 5 20
Below CLB level 5 Not eligible to apply
Second official language Points
At least CLB 5 in all of the four abilities 7


Factor 2: Education
Education Points
University degree at the Doctoral (PhD) level or equivalent 25
Post-secondary degree at the Master’s level, or equivalent OR university level entry-to-practice professional degree

Occupation related to the degree must be:

  • NOC 2011 Skill Level A, and
  • Licensed by a provincial regulatory body
Two or more Canadian post-secondary degrees or diplomas, or equivalent (at least one must be for a program of at least three years) 22
Canadian post-secondary degree or diploma for a program of three years or longer, or equivalent 21
Canadian post-secondary degree or diploma for a two-year program, or equivalent 19
Canadian post-secondary degree or diploma for a one-year program, or equivalent 12
Canadian secondary school education credential (also called high school), or equivalent 8
Less than secondary school Ineligible
Factor 3: Business Ownership or Management Experience
Business Ownership or Management Experience Points
Greater than 5 years of business ownership experience (minimum 33.33% ownership) in the last 10 years 35
Greater than 5 years of experience in a senior business management position in the last 10 years 20
3-5 years of business ownership experience (minimum 33.33%) in the last 10 years 20


Factor 4: Net Worth
Net Worth Points
Greater than $1.5 Million CAD 10
$1 Million CAD - $1.5 Million CAD 7
$600,000 CAD - $999,999 CAD 5
Less than $600,000 CAD Ineligible
Factor 5: Age
Age Points
Under 21 years Ineligible
21-24 years 5
25-32 years 7
33-39 10
40-44 7
45-55 5
56 years and older 0
Factor 6: Adaptability
Adaptability Points
Candidate's previous study in Nova Scotia

The candidate finished at least two academic years of full-time study (in a program at least two years long) at a secondary or post-secondary school in Nova Scotia.

Full-time study means at least 15 hours of instruction per week, and must have remained in good academic standing (as defined by the school) during the period of full-time study in Nova Scotia.

Spouse or common-law partner’s previous study in Nova Scotia

The candidate's spouse or common-law partner finished at least two academic years of full-time study (in a program at least two years long) at a secondary or post-secondary school in Nova Scotia.

Candidate's previous work in Nova Scotia

The candidate has at least one year of full-time work experience in Nova Scotia that:

  • Is in an occupation listed in Skill Type 0 or Skill Levels A or B of the National Occupational Classification (NOC 2011), and
  • Was completed on a valid work permit or while the candidate was authorized to work in Canada.
Spouse or common-law partner’s previous work in Nova Scotia

The candidate's spouse/partner has at least one year of full-time work experience in Nova Scotia on a valid work permit or while authorized to work in Canada.

Relatives in Nova Scotia

The candidate or, if applicable, his/her spouse or common-law partner, has a relative who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who has in Nova Scotia for at least one continuous year and is 19 years or older. Accepted relatives include:

  • parent,
  • grandparent,
  • brother/sister,
  • aunt/uncle, and
  • niece/nephew.
Spouse or common-law partner’s level of language proficiency

The candidate's spouse or common-law partner has a language level in either English or French at CLB 4 or higher in all four language abilities (speaking, listening, reading and writing)

Factor 7: Nova Scotia Economic Priorities
Nova Scotia Economic Priorities Points
Export-oriented business 5
Proposed business location outside of Halifax Regional Municipality 5
Business succession 5


Factor 8: Investment
Investment Amount Points
Greater than $300,000 CAD 15
$150,000 CAD - $300,000 CAD 10
Less than $150,000 CAD Ineligible


Invitation History

The NSOI performs periodic draws, or rounds of invitations, for the Entrepreneur Stream. This table shows the history of these draws.

Date of Draw Number of invitations issued Score of lowest-ranked candidate invited
August 7, 2018 32 116
June 26, 2018 22 120
May 21, 2018 18 123
March 27, 2018 22 108
February 20, 2018 22 100
January 16, 2018 27 91
December 19, 2017 27 91
November 15, 2017 24 91
October 10, 2017 12 97
September 15, 2017 28 91
August 9, 2017 25 94
July 11, 2017 20 97
June 13, 2017 30 95
May 9, 2017 35 98
March 7, 2017 26 90
January 18, 2017 28 90
December 22, 2016 36 97
November 18, 2016 35 104
October 3, 2016 9 110
August 11, 2016 12 111
June 28, 2016 8 115
April 21, 2016 11 108
March 31, 2016 8 113
March 10, 2016 8 117
February 19, 2016 6 112
Business Establishment Plan

The Business Establishment Plan must be a coherent and well-thought-out plan for successful settlement and business development in Nova Scotia. The plan should demonstrate that the business meets the minimum required investment level and that the applicant will hold an active managerial position in the business. Additionally, it should show that the candidate has conducted extensive research into the economic, market, and cultural factors relevant to the proposed business.

The Business Establishment Plan must include a detailed Action Plan that outlines, step by step, the planned actions of the business over the next two to three years. These actions include but are not limited to: financial actions required to start or buy the business, anticipated start date of the business, when staff will be hired, timing of planned export activities, etc.

It is crucial that the applicant has complete knowledge and understanding of his or her Business Establishment Plan. In the event that the applicant is unaware of the plan’s contents, he or she may be deemed ineligible.

Regardless of whether the candidate intends to purchase an existing business or establish a new one, the Business Establishment Plan must touch on all of the following topics: the business idea, sales and marketing plan, exploratory visit (only in the case of business succession), critical factors, risk factors, investment/financial information, business relationships, and human capital.


Business Idea

The business idea section of the Business Establishment Plan must:

  • Specify the industry/sector that the proposed business will operate in;
  • Provide a description of the business;
    • The description should outline:
      • Ownership percentages; the candidate must demonstrate that he or she will own at least 33.33 percent of the business and all other investors must be listed along with their contact information;
      • The legal name and trading name of the business (in the case of business succession);
      • Details of any changes the candidate is considering to the business operation (in the case of business succession);
  • Provide business ownership information – partnership, proprietorship, corporation, acquisition, franchise;
  • Specify the proposed location for the business (city or town); and
  • Provide details on the geographic coverage (local, regional or national) of the business.


Sales and Marketing Plan

The sales and marketing plan section of the Business Establishment Plan must outline:

  • The market analysis and marketing strategy including target market(s), major suppliers, and major competitors;
  • How the business will acquire space to operate;
  • What products or services the business will offer;
  • What distribution channels the business will use;
  • The business' hours of operation;
  • The outside professional services the business plans to use, if any; and
  • Full details of research undertaken to support these plans.


Exploratory Visit (for business succession only)

The exploratory visit is a requirement for all candidates intending to purchase an existing business rather than establish a new one. Applicants must create and submit a report on their visit as part of the Business Establishment Plan. The report must cover the entire length of stay in Canada (including time spent in other provinces) and should include:

  • Length of stay in Canada;
  • The name of the professional business service providers or settlement organizations visited during the trip, including mailing addresses, telephone numbers, and emails;
  • A description of the activity and/or meeting and its relevance to the applicant’s business establishment or settlement;
  • Copies of all airline tickets, boarding passes, and hotel receipts;
  • Copies of business cards collected from relevant contacts and business service providers throughout the visit; and
  • Details of the visit to the existing business location and any meetings with current owners.


Critical Factors

This section of the business plan should identify any:

  • Government regulations that will be applicable to the proposed business including environmental regulations, health regulations, municipal zoning requirements, and labour rules;
  • Special insurance requirements; and
  • Overall anticipated challenges in addition to those identified above.


Risk factors

The NSOI will consider the potential for any risk factors of the proposed business and the candidate's ability to address them. These include, but are not limited to, whether the candidate is proposing external financing, or if he or she is proposing to invest more than 50 percent of his or her personal net worth.



The investment/financial section of the business plan should include:

  • Proposed investment amount including how the money will be spent;
  • Forecasted start-up funds and expenses;
  • Source of financing for investment;
  • Financial statements for the last five years, in the case of business succession; and
  • Three years pro-forma financial statements including balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement. Assumption notes for income statement and cash flow statement including a rationale for estimated revenue, expenses and profitability must be included.


Business Relationships

In this section of the Business Establishment Plan, the candidate should provide:

  • The name, organizations, mailing addresses, phone numbers, and emails of contracted professional business service providers who the applicant has contacted and/or has established an active working relationship or paid contractual agreement with;
  • The name, organization name, mailing address, email, and telephone number of the person who compiled or assisted in the compilation of the Business Establishment Plan;
  • A summary of people contracted or consulted in preparation of the Business Establishment Plan.


Human Capital

This final section of the plan should outline:

  • The management contribution the candidate plans to make in the proposed business, including an estimate of the hours he or she will spend managing and/or working in the business on a weekly basis;
  • The number and type of jobs to be created for Canadian citizens or permanent residents;
  • The candidate's plan to offer the existing staff similar terms and conditions to what they already enjoy, including maintaining existing wages and employment terms, in the case of business succession;
  • The educational requirements and experience required for new employees;
  • Any preparation and training for entrepreneurship in Nova Scotia (including course titles and institution names, if applicable) that the applicant will undertake;
  • The candidate's educational background and its relevance to the proposed business idea; and
  • The candidate's entrepreneurial experience and its relevance to the proposed business idea.
    • If the candidate has no relevant experience or background directly related to the proposed business, he or she should explain how his or her knowledge or experience can be applied to the business.


When Not to Apply
Ineligible Applicants

Applicants are considered ineligible and should not apply under this stream if they;

  • Are refugee claimants in Canada;
  • Are living illegally in their current country of residence;
  • Have had a removal order issued against them by IRCC or Canada Border Services Agency;
  • Are prohibited from entering Canada;
  • Are passive investors (individuals who intend to invest in a Nova Scotia business with very limited or no involvement in the day-to-day management of the business); or
  • Do not have status; they will not be eligible to apply until their status has been restored.


Ineligible Businesses

The following types of business are ineligible:

  • Businesses that are conducted remotely (from another Canadian jurisdiction or from another country);
  • Property rental, investment, and leasing activities;
  • Real estate construction/development/brokerage, insurance brokerage or business brokerage; unless the applicant can demonstrate that the business will provide a compelling benefit to the province;
  • Professional services or self-employed business operators requiring licensing or accreditation;
  • Pay day loan, cheque cashing, money changing, and cash machines;
  • Pawnbrokers;
  • Credit unions;
  • Home-based businesses; unless the applicant can demonstrate that the business will provide a compelling benefit to the province;
  • Co-operatives;
  • Investments into a business operated primarily for the purposes of deriving passive investment income;
  • Businesses involved in the production, distribution or sale of pornographic or sexually explicit products or services, or in the provision of sexually-oriented services;
  • Joint ventures between NSNP program applicants; and/or
  • Any other type of business that by association could bring the NSNP or the government of Nova Scotia into disrepute.