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Alberta Rural Entrepreneur Stream

Discover the Rural Entrepreneur Stream, a dynamic economic immigration program tailored for aspiring entrepreneurs seeking to establish or acquire businesses in rural Alberta communities. This stream provides a unique avenue for individuals with entrepreneurial ambitions, allowing them to submit an Expression of Interest to express their intent.

Geared towards fostering economic growth and vitality in rural areas, the program invites entrepreneurs looking to initiate a new venture or acquire an existing business. By submitting an Expression of Interest, candidates signal their enthusiasm and commitment to contributing to the economic landscape of rural Alberta.

This stream recognizes the invaluable role entrepreneurs play in the prosperity of smaller communities. It serves as a bridge for those who envision themselves as business owners in these rural settings, facilitating the realization of their entrepreneurial dreams. Embrace the Rural Entrepreneur Stream as your pathway to not only business ownership but also to becoming an integral part of the flourishing economic tapestry of rural Alberta. Seize the opportunity to make a lasting impact by bringing your entrepreneurial spirit to the heart of these vibrant communities.

Recent changes

As of April 3, 2023, the Rural Entrepreneur Stream of the AAIP implemented a reduction in the minimum investment threshold, lowering it from $200,000 to $100,000. This adjustment brings the investment requirements in alignment with those of other entrepreneur streams within the program.

Simultaneously, the AAIP introduced the AAIP Phone Line to address inquiries related to program requirements and processes. This dedicated line is staffed by AAIP personnel, serving as an additional resource to complement the existing online information and contact forms provided by the program. These updates signify the program’s commitment to accessibility and responsiveness, aiming to enhance the overall experience for individuals interested in the Rural Entrepreneur Stream. Stay informed and connected through the newly established AAIP Phone Line, facilitating a smoother engagement with the program and ensuring that prospective entrepreneurs have the support they need.

Who is an entrepreneur?

An entrepreneur is a person who sets up a business with the aim to make a profit. An entrepreneur is commonly seen as an innovator, a source of new ideas, goods, services, and business/or procedures.

Entrepreneurs play a key role in Alberta’s economy, using their skills and initiative to anticipate needs and create jobs for Albertans. Entrepreneurs who prove to be successful in taking on the risks of establishing a business are rewarded with profits and continued growth opportunities.

The Alberta Advantage Immigration Program (AAIP) defines rural Alberta communities as any community with a population of less than 100,000. The AAIP uses the most recent census from Statistics Canada to determine a community’s population. In addition, the community must be outside of the Calgary and Edmonton Census Metropolitan Area. More information can be found at:

Candidates interested in a specific rural Alberta community should connect with the community contact person to discuss their business proposal and schedule an exploratory visit. Each community will have their own process for scheduling an exploratory visit. Communities reserve the right to meet only with potential entrepreneurs whom they deem as a fit.

The following rural Alberta communities are currently participating in the Rural Entrepreneur Stream. When contacting a community, use only the contact details listed in each community’s profile. Communities not listed here but wanting to participate can submit the Community Enrolment Form to their workforce consultant.

A list of participating communities will be available soon.

Factors that increase your chances

If candidates have one or more of the factors in Table 2, this may increase their likelihood of receiving a Request to Submit a Business Application.

Table 2. Factors that increase your chances

Economic BenefitBusiness succession
Age21 to 49

Your spouse/common-law partner has one of the following:

  • completed at least one year of full-time post-secondary education (Certificate, Associate Degree, Diploma, Bachelor’s Degree or higher) or
  • a minimum level Canadian Language Benchmark 4 in English or Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens 4 in French in all four language abilities (Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking). Language test results must be less than 2 years old at the time the Expression of Interest is submitted.
Alberta relativeRelatives are defined as father, step-father, mother, step-mother, child, step-child, sister, step-sister, brother, step-brother of candidate or spouse or common-law partner

Eligibility for Alberta Rural Entrepreneur Stream

Work experience

Have either a minimum 3 years of experience as an active business owner/manager or a minimum of 4 years of experience as a senior manager within the past 10 years.


Completed a minimum of high school equivalent to the Canadian standard with an Education Credential Assessment (ECA).

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website lists the designated organizations for ECAs


Have a minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level of 4 for each English language skill or Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) of 4 for each French language skill: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Official test results must be less than 2 years old at the time your Expression of Interest is submitted. The AAIP only accepts the following language tests:

Check the IRCC website on CLB/NCLC equivalency for each of the tests.

Net worth
Minimum net worth of $300,000. All assets must be candidate’s own personal holdings or spouse’s or common-law partner’s.
Business investment
Minimum investment of $200,000 from candidate’s own (and/or spouse/common-law partner) equity. Higher levels of investment will be awarded more points.
Business establishment

Minimum ownership of 51% for a new business. Business Partners must be Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents.


100% ownership for business succession (the succession buy-out must result in a complete change in ownership where the candidate will assume full control of the business).

Business must not be on the list of ineligible businesses.

Resources on how to establish a business in Alberta, including supports and services related to business plan development, business start-up, and business loans are available on the Small business resource page.

Job Creation

New businesses must create at least one full-time job for Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents (not including relatives).

More job creation will be awarded more points. Jobs must be created for Canadian citizens or permanent residents (not including relatives) for a period of at least 6 months.

For business succession, job creation is not required.

Community support letter
Candidates must have a Community Support Letter from a participating rural Alberta community.

Points Grid


Rural Factor (25 points)

Business Location

(Maximum of 25 points)

Mandatory requirement

Rural Community

Community outside the Edmonton and Calgary Census Metropolitan Areas and under 100,000 population size (mandatory minimum)

Tier 1: Less than 10,000 population25
Tier 2: 10,001 to 50,000 population17
Tier 3: 50,001 to 99,999 population10
Business Experience Factor (20 points)

Business owner-manager or senior management experience within the past 10 years

(Maximum of 20 points)

Mandatory requirement

Business owner-manager
3 to less than 4 years (mandatory minimum)12
4 to less than 5 years16
5 or more years20
or Senior manager
4 to less than 5 years (mandatory minimum)12
5 to less than 6 years16
6 or more years20
Business Establishment Factors (60 points)

Total Business Investment

(Maximum of 20 points)

Mandatory requirement

$200,000 to $399,999 (mandatory minimum)5
$400,000 to $599,99910
$600,000 to $799,99915
$800,000 or more20

Net Worth

(Maximum of 10 points)

Mandatory requirement

$300,000 to $399,999 (mandatory minimum)6
$400,000 to $499,9998
$500,000 or more10

Job Creation

Jobs must be created for Canadian Citizens or Permanent residents (not including relatives) for a period of at least 6 months.

(Maximum of 20 points)

Mandatory requirement

For business succession, job creation is not mandatory; however, candidates will be awarded points for job creation.

1 job (mandatory minimum)4
2 jobs8
3 jobs12
4 jobs16
5 jobs or more20

Business Successions

(Maximum of 10 points)

Not a Mandatory requirement

Investment to takeover an existing business10
Human Capital Factors (35 points)

Language Proficiency

(Maximum of 25 points)

Mandatory requirement

Proficiency in English or French:
CLB/NCLC 4 (4 for each Reading, Writing, Learning and Speaking) (mandatory minimum)15
CLB/NCLC 5 (5 for each Reading, Writing, Learning and Speaking)20
CLB/NCLC 6 or higher (6 for each Reading, Writing, Learning and Speaking)25


(Maximum of 10 points)

Mandatory requirement

High-school Diploma equivalent to Canadian standards (mandatory minimum)4
Associate Degree or Diploma (at least one year)7
Bachelor’s degree or higher10
Adaptability Factors (35 points)

Canada/Alberta experience from work or studies within the past 10 years

(Maximum of 15 points)

Not a mandatory requirement

In rural Alberta
12 to 24 months10
More than 24 months15

And / Or

In non-rural Alberta (Calgary and Edmonton Census Metropolitan Area)

18 to 30 months6
More than 30 months10

And / Or

In Canada

24 to 36 months3
More than 36 months5

Relative(s) in the community or Alberta

(Maximum of 10 points)

Not a mandatory requirement

Relatives are defined as father, step-father, mother, step-mother, child, step-child, sister, step-sister, brother, step-brother of candidate or spouse/common-law partner
Relative(s) living in Alberta5
Relative(s) living in the community where you intend to reside and operate a business10

Spouse’s/Common-law partner’s Language Proficiency or Education

(Maximum of 5 points)

Not a mandatory requirement

Proficiency in English or French:
CLB/NCLC 4 (4 for each Reading, Writing, Learning and Speaking)3
CLB/NCLC 5 (5 for each Reading, Writing, Learning and Speaking)4
CLB/NCLC 6 or higher (6 or higher for each Reading, Writing, Learning and Speaking)5
and / or Education:
Certificate, Associate Degree or Diploma (at least one year)3
Bachelor’s degree or higher5


(Maximum of 5 points)

Not a mandatory requirement

21 to 495
Maximum Points 175

Selection and notification process

Once the AAIP receives your Business Application, it will be assessed against eligibility criteria and your EOI Points will be verified. A Program Officer from the AAIP may contact you for more information.

The AAIP does not guarantee that all complete Business Applications received will be assessed or that all candidates who meet the assessment criteria will be issued a Business Application Approval Letter and/or nomination certificate. Review the declaration for the Rural Entrepreneur Stream available on the AAIP Portal and the Program’s Terms and Conditions for complete information. Submission of a Business Application or nomination by the AAIP does not guarantee you will be issued a permanent resident visa.


You are not eligible to apply under the Rural Entrepreneur Stream if:

  • you have an active nomination, which has not expired and/or is eligible for extension under another AAIP stream. Candidates are only eligible for one AAIP Nomination Certificate
  • you have been issued a letter on a previous AAIP application that stated you are not eligible to re-apply to the Program for a specified period of time. You will be declined under the Rural Entrepreneur Stream if you apply during the specified period.
  • you have a removal order issued against you by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) or Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)
  • you are a refugee claimant or an individual involved in a federal appeal or removal process. The AAIP does not intervene in the federal refugee claim, appeal or removal process.
  • you are a foreign national living or working in Canada with no valid temporary resident status
  • your business is on the list of ineligible businesses

Established businesses

Recognizing the economic contributions by foreign entrepreneurs in Alberta who currently own and operate a business in Alberta, the AAIP is providing an immigration pathway for these entrepreneurs to apply for permanent residency.

Entrepreneurs who currently own and operate a business in a rural Alberta community can apply to the AAIP and must demonstrate they meet the criteria highlighted in the Rural Entrepreneur Stream Points grid at the time of EOI submission. The established business must have operated in Alberta for at least one year immediately prior to submitting an EOI in the AAIP portal. Furthermore, the Community Support letter must be included with the EOI submission.

EOI submissions will be scored based on the Rural Entrepreneur Stream Points grid and candidates with the highest-ranking points will be requested to submit a Business Application to the AAIP. Entrepreneurs who have already established businesses in rural Alberta communities and are currently operating them will not be required to operate their business for an additional one year after applying to the AAIP. Eligible entrepreneurs will be issued a nomination certificate after submitting their Business Application to the Program and must continue to operate their business in Alberta while they go through the permanent residence application process with IRCC. Refer to after you are nominated for more information on next steps.

Eligible businesses

It is your responsibility to ensure your proposed business meets the criteria for eligible businesses. If it is not an eligible business or does not clearly demonstrate a significant economic benefit to Alberta, your EOI or Business Application may be declined.

Business must have the potential for creating economic benefit to Alberta, as in the opinion of and as determined by the AAIP. A proposed business must align with the following general requirements to be eligible under the Rural Entrepreneur Stream:

  • The purpose of the proposed business must be to make a profit from active or earned income, not passive income, through the sale of goods and/or provision of services.
  • The proposed business must comply with any applicable federal, provincial, or municipal legal, regulatory, or licensing requirements that govern its operation. This includes Alberta labour laws, including but not limited to, employment standards, occupational health and safety and labour relations legislations.
  • The proposed business must comply with applicable trade certification requirements in Alberta. For example, businesses in a compulsory trade must have a valid Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Trade (AIT) recognized trade certificate. See the list of designated trades in Alberta (PDF, 314 KB)
  • The proposed business must have a physical place of business in a rural Alberta community at all times.
  • For franchises, the ownership requirements and all other program criteria are the same as for other businesses. Candidates must also provide evidence that they have received support from the master franchisor to operate a franchise location.
  • You must own at least 51% of the business if it is a new business, or have 100% ownership of the business if you are purchasing an already established business (business succession). You are required to reside in Alberta and be involved in the day-to-day management of the business. You may not do this remotely, from another Canadian province or territory, or from another country and you are required to demonstrate residence in Alberta while on a work permit.

Ineligible businesses

Businesses deemed ineligible for the Rural Entrepreneur Stream include those in violation of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations, such as immigration-linked investment schemes or passive investments. Additionally, businesses lacking a value-add economic component are ineligible, including pay day loan services, cheque cashing, and related activities, as well as businesses engaged in trading used goods.

Furthermore, businesses characterized by passive investment or lacking active management, such as property rental, investment, leasing, real estate development/brokerage, insurance brokerage, business brokerage, and coin-operated ventures like laundromats and car wash operations, are not eligible. Project-based or seasonal businesses, home-based businesses not zoned for commercial or industrial operations, and bed-and-breakfasts are also ineligible.

Businesses involved in succession plans, owned or operated by relatives of the candidate or previously owned/operated by a current or former AAIP entrepreneur stream candidate/nominee within the past 4 years, are excluded. Businesses that changed ownership within the past 3 years before the Rural Entrepreneur Stream Business Application, as well as those engaged in producing, distributing, or selling explicit products or services, are ineligible. Any business that, in the opinion of the AAIP, might bring disrepute to the program or the Government of Alberta is also deemed ineligible.

Exploratory Visit

Embarking on an exploratory visit demands adherence to visa requirements for entry into Alberta. It’s crucial to note that neither the AAIP nor the community will furnish a support letter for visa acquisition related to the exploratory visit.

Before commencing the exploratory journey, candidates are strongly encouraged to delve into current market opportunities, licensing prerequisites, and business establishment procedures in the community. This proactive approach ensures a well-informed exploration. The visit presents an invaluable chance to engage with local business contacts, economic development officers, and other prospective connections, providing insights into the local business landscape. Documentation, including details of contacts and meetings, is essential for the subsequent Exploratory Visit Report.

The report should encompass:

1. Details of professional business service providers or settlement organizations visited, including addresses and contact information.
2. Descriptions of activities or meetings and their relevance to business establishment or settlement.
3. Copies of collected business cards from relevant contacts and service providers.
4. Information on visits to existing business locations and meetings with current owners if purchasing an existing business, including business names and owner details.

Following the exploratory visit, submit a comprehensive Rural Entrepreneur Stream Business Proposal Summary to the community contact person. This document outlines the business venture in the community, fostering discussion reaffirmation. Upon community approval, a Community Support Letter is issued, endorsing the Business Proposal Summary. This endorsement signifies community awareness, support for the business, and facilitates your retention in Alberta. The community may also provide additional information and support for your transition.

Upon receipt of the Community Support Letter and endorsed Business Proposal Summary, proceed to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) to the AAIP, marking the next step in your entrepreneurial journey in Alberta.