Nova Scotia Nominee Program: International Graduate Entrepreneur Stream

Nova Scotia Nominee Program: International Graduate Entrepreneur Stream

The International Graduate Entrepreneur (IGE) Stream is open to recent graduates of Nova Scotia post-secondary institutions who have already started or purchased a business in the province.

This stream functions on an Expression of Interest (EOI) system whereby candidates submit an EOI and are then awarded points based on a number of criteria. The highest ranked candidates are invited to apply to the program by the NSNP. The IGE Stream targets international graduates who intend to reside permanently in the province while owning and actively managing a Nova Scotia business.

This page will cover the following topics:


The Nomination Process

There are four steps to the nomination process:

Step 1: Submitting 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 work experience, language, education, 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). 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); and
  • An Audit Opinion and Special Purpose Report, both of which must be prepared by one of the NSOI’s designated Audit Service Verifiers (submitted within 90 days of the issuance of the ITA letter).
    • NOTE: the candidate must notify the NSOI of his or her choice of Audit Service Verifier within 20 days of the issuance of the ITA letter.
Step 3: In-Person Interview and Request for Nomination

Once an applicant has been assessed and is deemed to meet the criteria of the program, the applicant 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 15 business days of the candidate being contacted. The interview will include a site visit to the eligible business. Unsuccessful interviews or failure to participate in the interview within the 15 day time limit will result in closure of the application.

If the NSOI officer assessing the application is satisfied that the candidate meets all program criteria, and there are no other reasons that would prevent the nomination, the candidate will be nominated for Canadian permanent residence by Nova Scotia under the NSNP.

Step 4: Applying for Permanent Residence

Upon nomination, the applicant will apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for permanent resident status 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 International Graduate Entrepreneur Stream, applicants must:

  • Have completed a full-time Nova Scotia post-secondary diploma or degree of at least two years in length from a recognized university in Nova Scotia or the Nova Scotia Community College;
  • Have resided in Nova Scotia full-time during the academic program;
  • Demonstrate genuine intent to settle permanently in Nova Scotia
  • Have already owned and operated a business in Nova Scotia for at least one continuous year prior to the date of EOI submission;
  • 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) 7 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.
  • Be at least 21 years of age;
  • Have a valid Post-Graduation Work Permit at the time of application to the NSOI;
  • Own 100% of the equity of the eligible business and provide active and ongoing participation in the daily management and direction of the business; and
  • Demonstrate that they are receiving compensation in the form of salary from the business.
    • The compensation must, at minimum, meet the Low Income Cut-Off (LICO) as defined by Statistics Canada.


Minimum Requirements for Businesses

In order to qualify as an eligible business under the Entrepreneur program, the business must:

  • Have been started as a career objective, those created solely for immigration purposes are ineligible;
  • Meet the legal requirements of the community in which it will operate;
  • Be a for-profit entity with the primary purpose of earning profits through the sale of goods and/or services;
  • Be considered a “permanent establishment” as defined under subsection 400(2) of the Canadian Income Tax Regulations, 1985;
  • Be 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;
  • Be actively managed by the applicant from the place of business in Nova Scotia;
  • Have the potential to create significant economic benefit to the province of Nova Scotia.
Additional Requirements for Starting a Business

In addition the the above requirements, if starting a business, the applicant must:

  • 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 the applicant is purchasing an existing Nova Scotia business, the following requirements must be met:

  • The Nova Scotia based business must have been in continuous operation by the same owner for the previous five years; 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 six factors: language abilities, education, work experience, age, adaptability, and Nova Scotia economic priorities.

Candidates are required to get at least the minimum available score in each factor in order to submit an Expression of Interest.

Selection factor Points
Language abilities Maximum 35 points
Education Maximum 25 points
Work experience Maximum 15 points
Age Maximum 10 points
Adaptability Maximum 10 points
Nova Scotia economic priorities Maximum 10 points
Total Maximum 105 points


Factor 1: Language Abilities
First official language Points
Speaking Listening Reading Writing Total
CLB level 9 or higher 7 7 7 7 28
CLB level 8 6 6 6 6 24
CLB level 7 5 5 5 5 20
Below CLB level 5 Ineligible
Second official language Points
At least CLB 5 in all of the four abilities 7


Factor 2: Education
Level of Education Points
Less than a Nova Scotia post-secondary diploma Ineligible
Completion of a Nova Scotia post-secondary diploma for a two-year program 12
Completion of a Nova Scotia post-secondary degree or diploma for a program of three years or longer 15
Two or more Canadian post-secondary degrees or diplomas (at least one must be for a program of at least three years completed at a Nova Scotia institution) 17
Nova Scotia university degree at the Master’s level 22
Completion of a Nova Scotia 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
Nova Scotia university degree at the Doctoral (PhD) level 25


Factor 3: Work Experience
Work Experience Points
Less than 3 years of work experience in the last 10 years at NOC 0, A, or B level No points awarded
3 to 5 years of work experience in the last 10 years at NOC 0, A, or B level 10
Greater than 5 years of work experience in the last 10 years at NOC 0, A, or B level 15


Factor 4: Adaptability
Adaptability Factor Points
Spouse or common-law partner’s language proficiency

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

Spouse or partner’s past 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.

Full-time study means at least 15 hours of instruction per week, and the candidate's accompanying spouse or common-law partner 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 past 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, the candidate's spouse or common-law partner, has a relative of 19 years or older who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and has lived in Nova Scotia for at least one continuous year. Acceptable forms of relatives include:

  • parent,
  • grandparent,
  • brother/sister,
  • aunt/uncle, and
  • niece/nephew.


Factor 5: Age
Age Points
Less than 21 years Ineligible
21-39 years 10
40-44 years 7
45-55 years 5
56 years or older 0


Factor 6: 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


When Not to Apply
Ineligible Applicants

Candidates are considered to be ineligible under the IGE Stream if they:

  • Are refugee claimants in Canada;
  • Are living illegally in their 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 businesses are considered ineligible under this stream:

  • 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 prove their project in this area will have 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 prove their project in this area will have 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; or
  • Any other type of business that by association could bring the NSNP or the government of Nova Scotia into disrepute.