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Canada opens new economic immigration streams for skilled refugees and other displaced people

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Refugees and other displaced individuals are forced to restart their lives when they flee their home country, but they should not have to start from scratch, particularly when it comes to acquiring skills, training, experience and education. Through the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP), Canada is tapping into talent that is too often overlooked by creating more opportunities for skilled refugees and other displaced individuals to immigrate and to use their education, training and experience to continue their careers in Canada.

The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced today that Canada has launched two new EMPP streams, fulfilling a commitment made on March 27, 2023. Candidates can also continue to apply through existing regional EMPP economic pathways.

These new immigration streams provide Canadian employers with the opportunity to access a talent pool of skilled refugees and other displaced people from around the world. This access allows Canada to not only increase its economic immigration and fill in-demand jobs, but also to complement its existing humanitarian commitments.

By implementing efficiencies and improvements learned through collaboration with partners during the rollout of the first EMPP streams, newcomers using the EMPP will now be able to move to Canada and start working here more quickly. These new streams also reduce barriers to access since candidates do not need Canadian work experience to apply.

Of the two new streams announced today, one is tailored to candidates who have a job offer from a Canadian employer and the second is available to highly-skilled refugees without job offers.

Through the EMPP Federal Skills Job Offer Stream, Canadian employers can hire qualified candidates to fill a wide range of in-demand jobs, including nurse aides, personal support workers, long-term care aides, software engineers, web designers, mechanical and electrical engineers and technicians, logistics and warehouse workers, tourism and hospitality workers, and truck and delivery service drivers.

The EMPP Federal Skills Without a Job Offer Stream recognizes that certain candidates have skills that are in high enough demand that they will find work after they arrive in Canada.

EMPP gives refugees and other displaced people the chance to make the most of their skills to improve not only their lives and those of their families, but also the communities and workplaces that welcome them.

Expanding and scaling up the EMPP is part of Canada’s ongoing efforts to embrace its role as Chair of the Global Taskforce on Labour Mobility by modelling labour mobility programs for like-minded countries, and to make Canada’s immigration system more responsive to the needs of our economic and humanitarian commitments.

“Helping employers access a new global talent pool is another way we are using our immigration system to address ongoing labour shortages. Finding these skilled workers among people who happen to be displaced abroad and lack a durable solution is a made-­in­-Canada solution that we are promoting globally. Canada will continue to develop and scale up these types of innovative measures that allow us to welcome more vulnerable people, while helping businesses find the skilled workforce they need to grow.”

– The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

“Talent Beyond Boundaries hosts a talent catalog with over 65,000 skilled refugees who want to move for work, and a growing network of partners around the world who are adding to that number daily. The new federal pathway for EMPP will have a transformative impact on labour shortages across Canada, in key sectors like health care, tourism and hospitality, and construction, as well as on the lives of displaced people. Congratulations to the Government of Canada for continuing its international leadership in refugee labour mobility.”

– Lara Dyer, Canada Director, Talent Beyond Boundaries

“Including people who are refugees as part of the global talent pool is a simple idea but for years it wasn’t possible because of built-in, unintentional barriers in the visa process. The new federal EMPP immigration pathway is a pivotal change. It will open up many more options for people to use their skills to leave refugee situations and enrich the companies and communities where they land. This is a big win for displaced talent globally and the Canadian hiring teams that are eager to get involved. Our candidates represent skilled individuals in over 100 countries, and we encourage teams with open roles to explore this underleveraged talent pool to find their new colleagues.”

– Veronica Wilson, Co-Founder and Legal Director, TalentLift

“Jumpstart Refugee Talent is thrilled about the introduction of Canada’s new EMPP federal streams, simplifying and speeding up the process for employers to hire and relocate talented individuals from displaced populations. This initiative addresses chronic talent shortages across various sectors, including health care, manufacturing and construction. It’s an exciting opportunity for businesses to find the skilled workforce they need, while providing a fresh start for those seeking refuge. Together, we are building a stronger, inclusive nation.” 

– Bassel Ramli, Cofounder and Director, Economic Mobility, Jumpstart Refugee Talent

Quick facts

  • Canada continues to be a global leader in refugee resettlement and labour mobility. Last year, Canada resettled more than 46,500 refugees from over 80 countries.
  • As a complementary pathway, the EMPP allows Canada to welcome more people in need of protection because those coming through the pilot enter as economic immigrants and not resettled refugees, leaving the resettlement spaces for those with greater vulnerability.
  • Canadian employers can use the EMPP Federal Skills Job Offer Stream (job offer stream) to hire refugees and other displaced people who qualify under any National Occupation Classification 2021 category (TEER 0–5). NGO partners are available to help employers throughout the process—from finding and hiring qualified candidates, to supporting them through the immigration process, and finally welcoming newcomers to their new communities and workplaces. NGO partners may charge a fee for their services.
  • Eligibility to apply for the EMPP under the new economic streams is based on a candidate’s work experience, education and language skills.
  • To apply for the EMPP through the job offer stream, candidates must meet minimum requirements for language, past work experience and education. They do not need to show proof of an education credential assessment or proof of settlement funds.
  • To apply for the EMPP through the EMPP Federal Skills Without a Job Offer Stream (no job offer stream), candidates must meet higher requirements for language, past work experience and education because they will need to find work after they arrive in Canada. They also need to show proof of an education credential assessment and have a certain amount of funds available to show that they are able to establish themselves in Canada.
  • EMPP facilitation measures include waiving some fees, making it easier to validate work experience, and letting candidates use loans to fund travel costs, settlement needs, start-up costs and fees that can’t be waived.
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