Economic immigration of skilled refugees

Through economic immigration programs, qualified refugees in need of lasting solutions can put their skills to work while meeting employers’ needs in countries like Canada.

Read our latest report

Photo: © UNHCR/Annie Sakkab

Giving skilled refugees a chance to contribute to Canada’s economy

Canada is at the forefront of exploring the potential of the international recruitment of refugees through labour mobility programs. It already has many economic immigration pathways, under which immigrants are selected based on human capital and their ability to fill Canadian labour market needs.

Skilled people in need of international protection are likely to face challenges in applying for economic immigration to Canada, as these programs were not designed to take into account the difficult circumstances of forced displacement. But if we assist them in overcoming these barriers, they can access permanent status, a pathway to citizenship and robust settlement support like any other economic immigrant – and this provides essential protection to those who qualify for such programs.

Investing in refugees pays off for Canadian businesses

As an employer, you might be looking for new talent, but finding the right employee in your region might be difficult or even impossible. By recruiting qualified refugees who are ready to come here to meet your needs, you can increase your competitive positioning, improve productivity and access new markets – plus, they will bring fresh perspective and plenty of new ideas to your business. By giving skilled refugees a chance, Canadian businesses can benefit from their unique skills and knowledge, while helping them succeed and build a more prosperous future for all. 

The Economic Mobility Pathways Project (EMPP), a promising way forward

Since 2018, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada funded the Economic Mobility Pathways Project (EMPP), an initiative led in collaboration with Talent Beyond Boundaries and RefugePoint and joined by UNHCR. The Economic Mobility Pathways Project (EMPP) examined how refugees can access Canada’s existing economic immigration programs and identified the challenges they may face due to forced displacement. Many skilled refugees meet the requirements of Canada’s economic immigration programs, and when given the opportunity through administrative and financial flexibilities, they are able to meet Canadian labour market needs and help their host communities across the country.

To date, a software developer, a chef, a tool and die maker, a cabinet maker and personal support workers – all refugees – have made Canada their new home alongside their families through an economic immigration pathway, while other applications are being processed. Employers hired these candidates after rigorous job interviews and careful review of their qualifications because they were the best match for their businesses.

As with other immigration pathways, economic immigration for skilled refugees is not a substitute for resettlement, an integral part of Canada’s humanitarian tradition. While the resettlement program remains focused on assisting refugees who are most at risk, some of Canada’s other immigration programs have the potential to provide more avenues for those in need of international protection to find safety in Canada.

UNHCR Canada does not select refugees who will be resettled to Canada and is not able to intervene or influence the process of determining whether someone can be considered a refugee or if a refugee can be resettled to Canada. When resettlement places are offered by countries such as Canada, other UNHCR offices around the world in refugees’ countries of asylum will identify those at risk and submit their applications to these resettlement countries. Resettlement countries make the final decision as to whether or not a refugee will be admitted to their country.

Stay alert and report fraudsters who are offering you resettlement, financial or other kinds of assistance, fake documents or fake claims in exchange for money or other favours. All UNHCR services are free of charge. Do not trust anyone or any organization asking you to pay for the services of UNHCR or its partners.

Pin It on Pinterest