What is the Foreign Graduate Entrepreneur Stream?

And how does it work?

Alberta Rocky Mountains - Alberta Foreign Graduate Entrepreneur Stream

The Foreign Graduate Entrepreneur Stream (FGES) is an economic immigration program for qualified graduates who want to launch start-up enterprises and innovative businesses in the province of Alberta. Alberta provides a high quality of life, is made up of a diverse set of cultures and communities that are home to many world-class services, has low taxes, and offers abundant opportunities for entrepreneurs. The FGES is an efficient and effective avenue for eligible entrepreneurs to immigrate to Alberta and open a business. 

Who’s Eligible?  

The stream is designed to attract entrepreneurial talent from around the world. While applicants must have completed a degree within the last ten years from a post-secondary institution outside of Canada with an Educational Credential Assessment, the program is open to graduates from various fields of study, providing flexibility in eligibility criteria. 

The basic eligibility requirements for the FGES are clear. Eligible candidates must: 

    1. Have completed a post-secondary degree outside of Canada in the last 10 years 

    1. Obtain a Letter of Recommendation from an agency designated by the Alberta Government (Empowered Startups is a government designated agency)  

    1. Start a business connected to one of eight priority sectors 

    1. Have at least 6 months of full-time work experience managing or owning a business, or work experience with a business incubator 

    1. Meet the Canadian Language Benchmark level of 5 for each language skill in either English or French 

Qualified Recommendation 

As with the Canada Start-up Visa (SUV) Program, the FGES requires applicants to work with a government designated agency to qualify for the program. Without a letter of recommendation, candidates may not apply.  

Empowered Startups worked directly with the Alberta Government to design the FGES program and is one of only two designated agencies permitted to assess the viability of prospective candidates and issue a letter of recommendation.  

Empowered Startups efficiently determines whether a candidate meets the eligibility requirements for the FGES and collaborates with the incoming entrepreneur to skillfully prepare the application in order to ensure approval. This includes building a developed Expression of Interest and a well-constructed, realistic Business Application, which is essential for success in utilizing the FGES as a vehicle to earn permanent residency in Canada.  

No Limit on Applicants 

Recent changes to the Canada Start-up Visa (SUV) Program have significantly limited the number of opportunities for entrepreneurs to immigrate to Canada using the SUV program in an effort to improve processing for qualified applicants. As of April 30, 2024, designated agencies may only submit applications associated with 10 start-ups for the Canada SUV Program each year. This measure puts a hard ceiling on how many people may apply in a calendar year.  

Alberta has no such limits on the Foreign Graduate Entrepreneur Stream. Empowered Startups is currently accepting applications for the FGES, and is eager to work with transnational entrepreneurs who are motivated to open a business in Alberta.   

Tangible Targets 

One of the unique aspects of the FGES is the construction of objective business goals that need to be met in order to obtain Permanent Residency. As a part of their Business Applications, applicants create business performance requirements and associated timeframes to the Alberta government for approval. Once the conditions are agreed upon, those targets become the measure of success for the business and are formalized in a Business Performance Agreement with the province of Alberta.  

This process gives the applicant an objective measure by which to achieve Permanent Residency in Canada: meet the targets and Permanent Residency in Canada will be approved.  

Get to Work Quickly 

For those entrepreneurs eager to get their feet on the ground in Canada and work right away, the FGES provides faster processing time for work permits when compared to the Canada SUV program. Successful candidates are issued work permits within 3-6 weeks of applying, allowing them to get their businesses up and running in Alberta very quickly. A recent FGES applicant who worked with Empowered Startups received her work permit in just 23 days.  

Flexibility in Business 

There is a wide variety of businesses that are accepted by the Government of Alberta in the FGES program, and there is no requirement that the business be innovative. Candidates are permitted to open a traditional business under the FGES so long as it is related to one of the eight priority sectors identified in the program guidelines. Empowered Startups collaborates with its applicants in determining a business that fits within the scope of the approved sectors for the FGES.  

For many entrepreneurs, this model is desirable as it allows them the ability to promptly open a functioning business as opposed to investing their time and resources into a conceptual enterprise to launch at a future date. 

Apply Today 

Alberta’s Foreign Graduate Entrepreneur Stream offers a wonderful immigration opportunity for entrepreneurs who are looking to immigrate to Canada.  Fill out this form to speak to one of our experts and apply to the FGES program.