Northwest Territories Business Stream

Last updated: 25 May 2023

The Business Stream of the NTNP seeks to attract individuals with business expertise and considerable investment capital to settle in the Northwest Territories and enhance their economic environment.

This business immigration stream of the Northwest Territories Nominee Program (NTNP) is for foreign nationals with the ability to establish, purchase, or invest in an existing business. Applicants are selected primarily on the basis of their ability to create jobs for the foreign national and other Canadians living in the region.

The application process begins with a working business concept and a desire to move to the Northwest Territories (NWT). Prospective applicants submit complete applications and business plans for review to the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment. If the applicant is accepted and the business plan is implemented, a nomination certificate will be issued and the applicant may apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for permanent resident status.

This page will provide the following information on the Northwest Territories Business Stream: 

The Northwest Territories Business Stream Requirements for the Applicant

In order to be considered eligible under the Northwest Territories Business Stream, foreign nationals must:

  • Invest:
    • A minimum of $300,000 CAD into starting or buying a business within the corporate boundaries of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories; or
    • A minimum of $150,000 CAD into starting or buying a business outside of the corporate boundaries of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.
  • Have a personal net worth of:
    • At least $500,000 CAD if starting or buying a business within the corporate boundaries of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories; or
    • At least $250,000 CAD if starting or buying a business outside the corporate boundaries of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.
  • Demonstrate that they own at least one-third (33.3 percent) of the business;
    • If the applicant makes a personal equity investment of $1,000,000 CAD or more, he or she may own less than one-third (33.3 percent).
  • Provide a good faith deposit of $75,000 CAD to be held in a trust and released upon satisfactory execution of the terms of the Business Performance Agreement;
  • Demonstrate reasonable knowledge and understanding of the Northwest Territories and its economy;
  • Have English or French language proficiency equivalent to a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level 4. Test results to prove language proficiency must be no older than two ( 2) years and must be from one of the following government-approved agencies:
  • Have the required experience and educational credentials to successfully execute the business plan;
  • Be financially capable of starting and operating a business and supporting themselves and any dependents for the entire duration of the Business Performance Agreement.
  • Not have any active application with any other NTNP Stream;
  • Demonstrate sufficient communication skills to conduct business in the Northwest Territories and to integrate into the local community; and
  • Have the necessary experience and education to successfully implement the business plan.

The Northwest Territories Business Stream Application Steps

There are eight steps to the nomination process:

Step 1: Self-Assessment and Initial Investigations

If a prospective applicant believes that he or she meets the criteria of the Business Stream, then he or she is encouraged to develop a working business concept and to begin researching the Northwest Territories, its people, its communities, and its economy. The working business concept may be identifying a business opportunity in the Northwest Territories or it may entail preparing a full‐scale business plan for a new business, the extent of the work is at the discretion of the prospective applicant.

If a prospective applicant plans to acquire an existing business, the business must have been in continuous operation by the same owner for the three (3) years prior to applying. The number of jobs in the business and the wages cannot be lowered when the business is purchased.

Step 2: Further Investigations and Face‐to‐Face Interview(s)

Prospective applicants are required to make at least one (1) business trip to the Northwest Territories prior to being invited to submit an application in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the Northwest Territories business environment and the necessary steps to turn a working business concept into a business plan. The trip must be no less than four (4) full business days in length, not including travel days (to and from the Northwest Territories), interview day(s) and statutory holidays. 

After the business trip, prospective applicants must participate in at least one face‐to‐face interview with Nominee Program staff to review the working business concept, and to assess the foreign national's knowledge of the Northwest Territories and his or her business and communication skills. One interview must be held at the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment headquarters in Yellowknife and one must be held with the relevant regional office.

If a prospective applicant is intending to invest in an existing business in the Northwest Territories, the owner of the business must also attend a separate interview with NTNP staff.

Step 3: Expression of Interest

After the interview, the prospective applicant will be notified of the results. If the interview was successful, the prospective applicant will have sixty (60) days to submit the following:

  • a written summary of the working business concept with a basic outline of the investments that will be made; and 
  • a summary of their findings from the business trip to the Northwest Territories. 

If the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment finds the information provided satisfactorily, approves the business concept based on its ability to provide value to the territory, finds that the applicants has sufficient requisite business and communication skills, and believes the prospective applicant is sincere in their desire to move and settle in the NWT, an invitation to apply will be issued to the applicant. 

Step 4: Formal Application

Once invited to formally apply, the candidate has nine months to submit a complete application to the Nominee Program. Additionally, the application fee and any other charges must be paid in full and the Third Party Financial Verification Report, detailed business plan, and up‐to‐date copy of the NTNP‐05: Authorize or Cancel a Representative must be submitted within the nine-month time period as well. Incomplete applications will not be processed and the applicant will be notified. 

The NWT Nominee Program discourages applicants from making any investment or financial commitment prior to signing a Business Performance Agreement and obtaining a work permit.

Step 5: Application Review

After the complete formal application is submitted, both the applicant and the business plan will be reviewed according to the eligibility criteria. NTNP staff may request additional documentation and/or an additional interview to verify information within the application. Nominee Program staff will then either recommend the applicant for entry into the NTNP or deem him/her ineligible. This recommendation is reviewed by the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment who makes the final decision to accept or refuse the application.

Application reviews are based on (but are not limited to) the following criteria:

  • The ability of the business to create jobs for local residents;
  • The ability of the business to be sustainable in the NWT over the long-term based on local market research
  • The ability of the business to provide significant economic benefits to the Territory based on local market research
  • The ability of the prospective applicant to successfully implement the business based on their skills and past
  • The ability of the prospective applicant to successfully implement business based on the realistic nature of the submitted business plan; and
  • Accurate financial statements, with substantiation, in the submitted business plan.

Step 6: Approval and the Business Performance Agreement

Once accepted, the applicant will be notified in writing by NTNP staff. The NTNP will then begin negotiating a Business Performance Agreement with the applicant, which outlines the terms under which the applicant is to execute the business plan. Once the agreement is signed and the refundable $75,000 CAD good faith deposit has been received, the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment will provide the applicant with a letter of support for a two-year temporary work permit, which the applicant may submit along with his or her application to IRCC.

In order to successfully fulfill the requirements of the Business Performance Agreement and be nominated, applicants must reside within 100 kilometres of the NWT business and must reside in the Northwest Territories for at least 75 percent of the time while on a work permit.

Step 7: Developing the Business

Six months after arriving in the Northwest Territories, the applicant must be prepared to establish the business and make the necessary investment. NTNP staff will monitor the business' progression and meet with the applicant from time to time. Part of this process involves the applicant submitting an Interim Report to the NWT Nominee Program every six (6) months. A key requirement in this report is the inclusion of proof of spending for the required eligible investment. 

The applicant has two years to develop the business described in the business plan in accordance with the Business Performance Agreement. The applicant must demonstrate that he or she is actively involved in and accountable for the management of the NWT business' daily operations. Active management must occur at the place of business in the Northwest Territories.

Step 8: Nomination

Upon fulfillment of the terms set out in the Business Performance Agreement, the Government of Northwest Territories may issue a nomination certificate to the applicant. If nominated, the applicant must apply to IRCC for permanent residence within six (6) months of being nominated.

The Business Plan

The business plan must be a coherent and well-thought-out plan for successful settlement and business development in the Northwest Territories. The plan should outline the steps that the applicant will take to ensure that the business has a reasonable chance of success and can be implemented upon arrival. The business plan should show that the candidate has conducted extensive research into the economic, market, and cultural factors relevant to the proposed business and that he or she has taken into account his or her management strengths and weaknesses.

A third party may help the applicant develop the business plan, however, it is crucial that the applicant has complete knowledge and understanding of his or her plan. In the event that the applicant is unaware of the plan's contents, the application may be denied.

Required Content

The business plan must include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Proposed business name and description of the business concept;
  • Business ownership information – partnership, proprietorship, corporation, franchise, acquisition;
  • Proposed industry/sector;
    • Applicants must indicate:
      • The industry sector code(s) that best relates to their proposed investment (per the North American Industry Classification); and
      • The occupation code(s) that best relates to their experience and skill level (per the National Occupation Classification) system.
  • The proposed location for the business;
  • Plans for establishing residence in the Northwest Territories;
  • Management contribution the applicant will make with respect to the proposed business;
  • Proposed investment amount and explanation of how it will be spent;
  • Fore-casted startup funds and expenses;
  • Pro‐forma financial data and a financing plan,if applicable;
  • Number of jobs to be created for NWT residents;
  • Market research performed and all other supporting analysis;
  • A list of planned past and/or future visits to the Northwest Territories, if applicable;
  • Any preparation and training for entrepreneurship in the Northwest Territories (include course titles and institution names, if applicable);
  • The name, organizations, mailing addresses, phone numbers, and emails of contracted professional business service providers whom the prospective applicant has contacted and/or established an active working relationship or paid contractual agreement with; and
  • A summary of the people contracted or consulted within the preparation and/or compilation of the business plan, including the name, organization name, mailing address, e‐mail address and phone number of each.

Ineligible Businesses

The following businesses are considered ineligible under the Nominee Program Business Stream:
  • Restaurants proposed within the city limits of Yellowknife;
  • Seasonal businesses operational for less than six (6) months per year;
  • Bed and Breakfasts;
  • Property Management;
  • Real Estate Development;
  • Home-based businesses;
  • Non-profit organizations and associations;
  • Any business that has the same listed head office as another registered business;
  • Payday loan, cheque cashing, money changing and cash machine businesses;
  • Pawnbrokers;
  • Businesses previously owned or operated in the last five (5) years by current or former Nominee Program business stream nominees;
  • Any immigration-linked investment scheme pursuant to Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (“IRPR”), section 87(5)(b);
  • Any business where the terms of investment include a redemption option pursuant to IRPR, section 87(6)(d);
  • A business that by association would tend to bring the Nominee Program or the Government of the Northwest Territories into disrepute.

Who is not eligible to apply for the Northwest Territories Business Stream

Applicants are considered to be ineligible if they:

  • Do not meet one or more of the eligibility criteria listed above;
  • (or any dependent family member, accompanying or not) have a serious medical condition;
  • (or any dependent family member over the age of 18, accompanying or not) have a criminal record;
  • Have unresolved custody or child support disputes affecting any member of their family;
  • Are refugee claimants in Canada;
  • Are involved in a federal appeal or removal process;
  • Have active applications with other provincial nominee programs;
  • Have intentionally committed misrepresentation during the application process;
  • Have intentionally committed fraud during the application process; or
  • Have proposed an investment into a business, where the business is operated primarily for the purposes of deriving passive investment income.

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