NSNP International Graduate Entrepreneur

The NSNP International Graduate Entrepreneur welcomes recent graduates of a Nova Scotia University or the Nova Scotia Community College who have already started or purchased a business in the province.

The NSNP International Graduate Entrepreneur stream is one of several immigration streams of the Nova Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP), a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) operated by the province of Nova Scotia. The NSNP International Graduate Entrepreneur is for recent graduates of a Nova Scotia university or the Nova Scotia Community College. The candidate must have already started or bought a Nova Scotia business and operated it for a year. The candidate must demonstrate that they are intended to live in Nova Scotia permanently.

This program is by invitation only. Interested candidates must submit an Expression of Interest (EOI). After submitting an EOI the candidate will be assigned a score based on the Nova Scotia International Graduate Entrepreneur points grid (mentioned below). The applicants with the most competitive scores will be invited to submit an official application to the program. Please read below to learn more about the program requirements and application procedure for the Nova Scotia International Graduate Entrepreneur Stream.

Eligibility Requirement

Express Entry Profile No
Connection to Province Study Experience
Job Offer No
Language Proficiency CLB 7
Level of Education Post-secondary
2 years
Work Experience Business ownership and management
In Nova Scotia
1 year
Investment Requirement None

Connection To Province

To be eligible for the Nova Scotia International Graduate Entrepreneur stream, candidates must have graduated from a Nova Scotia university or community college with a degree or diploma after a minimum of two years of full-time study. Candidates must also demonstrate that they have owned and managed a Nova Scotia business for at least 12 months. The candidate must have one-third ownership of the business and the applicants must currently be residing in Nova Scotia with a valid post-graduation work permit.

Language Proficiency

The candidate must have a minimum of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 in all four language abilities in either English or French demonstrated by either Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) General test, International English Language Testing System (IELTS) General Training test, Test d’évaluation de français (TEF-Canada) or Test de connaissance du français (TCF-Canada) taken within two years prior to date of EOI submission.

Level of Education

To be eligible for Nova Scotia International Graduate Entrepreneur Stream, the applicant must have completed a full-time Nova Scotia post-secondary diploma or degree of at least two years (15 hours of class per week) in length from a recognized university in Nova Scotia or the Nova Scotia Community College. The applicant must have resided in Nova Scotia during the academic program (no distance-learning academic programs will be eligible.)

Work Experience

Candidates must have owned and operated business in Nova Scotia for at least one (1) year while on a valid post-graduation work permit.

Business And Financial Criteria

The applicant must meet the following business and financial eligibility criteria to be eligible for the International Graduate Entrepreneur stream:

  • Own and operate a business in Nova Scotia for at least one continuous year prior to the date of EOI submission.
  • Applicants must own 33.33% of the equity of the eligible business and provide active and on-going participation in the day-to-day management and direction of the business.
  • The applicant must demonstrate that they are receiving compensation in the form of a salary from the business, which must meet at a minimum Low Income Cut-Off (LICO) as defined by Statistics Canada. The eligible business has to be in sound financial health. This means that it must be producing revenue and earning sufficient profits to allow the owner to become economically established in the province. An Audit Opinion and Special Purpose Report from an NSOI designated Audit Verifier will be required to assess the financial health of the business.

Business Requirement

In addition to meeting the minimum eligibility criteria above, the applicant’s proposed business must also meet the following criteria:

  • The business has to be have been started as a career objective. Businesses created solely for immigration purposes are ineligible.
  • Businesses must meet the legal requirements of the community in which they operate.
  • 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 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.
  • The business must be actively managed by the applicant 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 another country.
  • The business must have the potential to create significant economic benefits to Nova Scotia. For example:
    • Increasing value-added 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.
    • Providing products or services to an under-served local or regional market.

There are two categories within the Entrepreneur Stream, Starting a New Business and Purchasing an Existing Business. Each category has unique criteria in addition to the criteria noted above.

Additional Criteria When Starting a New Business

If starting a business the applicant must have created a minimum of one full-time or equivalent part-time employment opportunity for a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident in Nova Scotia (non-relative worker). This position(s) must:

  • Be over and above any position filled by the approved applicant. For clarity, jobs created for or filled by dependents or relatives of the applicant are not eligible.
  • Be relevant and directly related to the applicant’s business.
  • Meet the prevailing wage levels in the province.

Additional Criteria When Purchasing an Existing Business

If the applicant has purchased an existing Nova Scotia business, all of the following apply:

  • The Nova Scotia-based business must have been in continuous operation in Nova Scotia by the same owner for the previous five (5) years.
  • Applicants must have offered employment on similar terms and conditions to existing staff, including maintaining existing wages and employment terms.

Application Procedure

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. In 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.

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.

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 the 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.

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.

Ineligible Applicants

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

  • A refugee claimant in Canada claiming refugee status from the Government of Canada.
  • Living illegally in your country of residence.
  • A person who has had a removal order issued against them by IRCC or Canada Border Services Agency.
  • A person who is prohibited from entering Canada.
  • A passive investor (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);
  • An individual who does not have status; you are not eligible to apply until your status has been restored.

Ineligible Business

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 business in one of these areas is of compelling benefit to the Province of Nova Scotia.
  • Any self-employed business operators requiring licensing or accreditation.
  • A payday loan, cheque cashing, money changing and cash machines.
  • Pawnbrokers.
  • Credit unions.
  • Home-based businesses; unless the applicant can prove their business will have a compelling benefit to the Province of Nova Scotia.
  • Businesses involved in the production, distribution or sale of pornographic or sexually explicit products or services.
  • Co-operatives.
  • Investments in a business operated primarily for the purposes of deriving passive investment income.
  • Joint ventures between NSNP program applicants.
  • Any other type of business that by association could tend to bring NSOI, NSNP, or the Government of Nova Scotia into disrepute.

Nova Scotia International Graduate Entrepreneur Ranking System

The International Graduate Entrepreneur Points Grid is a key component of the IGE Stream. The points assessment allocates points for language, education, work experience, adaptability, age 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.

Overview of Factors

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

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


Level of Education Points Documentation required
Completion of a Nova Scotia post-secondary diploma for a two-year program 12 Canadian Educational Credential Assessment (ECA)
Proof of your completed Canadian educational credential(s) can include copies of your:
• post-secondary education documents (certificates, diplomas or degrees)
• Transcripts for successfully completed post-secondary studies
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

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


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


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.

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

Nova Scotia International Graduate Entrepreneur – Recent Draws

Date of Draw Number of invitations issued Score of lowest-ranked candidate invited
June 24, 2019 1 74
January 7, 2019 1 54
November 14, 2018 1 68
September 20, 2018 1 47
August 7, 2018 1 47
June 21, 2018 1 64
May 21, 2018 2 60
March 27, 2018 1 67
February 20, 2018 2 47
November 15, 2017 2 62
October 10, 2017 1 57
June 13, 2017 1 81
March 8, 2017 2 52
December 22, 2016 1 56