IRCC expanding economic mobility pilot program to include 2000 skilled refugees

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced that it will provide funding through the Economic Mobility Pilot Program (EMPP) to several partner organizations.

Over the next few years, the program will admit 2,000 skilled refugees to Canada to help with shortages in specific, high-demand sectors. Immigration Minister Sean Fraser made the announcement during a meeting of partners in Ottawa today.

The EMPP facilitates hiring by connecting skilled refugees with employers who have an urgent need for employment.

Talent Beyond Boundaries, TalentLift and Jumpstart Refugee Talent are the partner organizations receiving the funding. These organizations will soon be able to directly refer and endorse candidates. Each organization will receive training and a quality assurance review.

“The Canadian economy is facing chronic talent shortages in many sectors,” says Basel Ramli, co-founder and global program director at Jumpstart Refugee Talent. “Meanwhile, millions of refugees around the world are seeking sustainable solutions to secure a better life for their families. In partnership with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Jumpstart is helping to hire and relocate people from displaced populations. I am supporting employers across Canada.”

Among the funding, the government has allocated $6.2 million to support EMPP partner organisations.

There are six different projects receiving funding. The money will help organizations identify qualified candidates overseas and support candidates and employers through the interview, recruitment and immigration processes.

canada labor shortage

The announcement comes as Canada, like much of the world, is facing a shortage of skilled labor and a large number of job vacancies. The shortage is due to an aging population and low birth rates. There are not enough natural-born Canadians to fill the positions as they become vacant.

To combat the shortfall, Canada released its highest permanent resident target to date in the Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025. Under this plan, the country aims to welcome more than 500,000 new immigrants a year by the end of 2025.

Of these, more than 300,000 new people will be granted permanent residency through economic immigration programs and to break this down further, about 15,000 economic immigrants will be brought in through an economic pilot program.

Who is eligible for EMPP?

As of October 2022, Canada has welcomed over 100 skilled refugees and their family members under the EMPP.

A refugee who settles in Canada under the EMPP has less difficulty applying for permanent residence in the long term.

EMPP facilitation measures include waiving certain fees, making it easier to prove their work experience, and allowing them to access loans to cover travel costs, settlement needs, start-up costs, and waiving fees. In most cases, IRCC processes applications within 6 months.

Refugees who wish to immigrate under EMPP must be able to prove that they are both refugees and eligible under the existing Economic Immigration Pilot Program such as:

Those applying under the Atlantic Immigration Program, or the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, are not required to meet certain general eligibility requirements. For example, proving the number of hours demanded in the time frame listed, although they still have to prove they normally worked the same number of hours.

Refugees must also provide a referral letter from a partner organization.

What is EMPP?

EMPP was launched in 2018 as a research project and has two phases. The first phase proved that, given targeted help, there are skilled refugees who can meet the eligibility criteria of existing economic immigration programs. The move helped shed light on a large, untapped pool of potentially skilled candidates who could fill gaps in Canada’s workforce.

The current phase includes IRCC aiming to resettle 500 refugees and their families. The results of these settlements will help IRCC understand how to maximize the potential of skilled refugees and expand EMPP.

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