Hey non-profits! Relocate your next employee from a refugee situation

Explore a new, impactful hiring strategy for the non-profit and charitable sector under Canada’s Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP)

Your hiring power has the potential to move talented new team members from displacement to a secure future in Canada.

There are more than 110 million people living displaced around the world. This figure has risen in the last several decades to an historic high, driven by conflict or civil instability in Syria, Venezuela, Ukraine, Afghanistan, and South Sudan, among other regions. Many displaced people are living in countries where they have limited access to work rights and other basic services. And yet, many have the skills and talent needed by teams and communities across Canada.

The non-profit and charitable sector has an opportunity to get involved, and put their own team values of inclusion and community impact into practice through a new hiring strategy: Sourcing your hard-to-fill roles from the international talent pool of people living in refugee situations.

Do you need a Software Developer? A Data Analyst? A Project Manager? A Sales Lead? A Graphic Designer? A Bookkeeper? A lot of the critical skill sets needed by non-profit teams are also really difficult to find in Canada. But the right candidate doesn’t need to be here in Canada. Your next great hire might be in a refugee situation, eager for a job and relocation opportunity.

The Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP)

Many teams in the non-profit sector may be new to international recruitment using skilled visas. That’s okay. Not having past experience with immigration shouldn’t be a barrier to starting out. Canada has a unique immigration program called the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP), which aims to help hiring teams across Canada to recruit and relocate talent from within refugee populations.

Canada is continuously improving the pilot, and it has never been easier or faster for Canadian hiring teams to participate.

A few important things for organizations to know about recruitment under the EMPP: 

  • Your team and the location of the job can be anywhere in Canada outside Quebec
  • You need to offer a full-time job
  • You should offer the prevailing (median) wage for the role and location 
  • You can work with TalentLift to learn more and find a shortlist of talented candidates living in displacement for your open roles
  • You should be ready to pay the costs of visas and relocation, and provide basic arrival support (i.e. airport pick-up) to your new employee and their family (and don’t stress – we help you plan and execute each step!)
  • You can expect a visa processing timeline of about 6 months, which is quite reasonable when seeking in-demand skills.

Importantly, supporting a candidate from displacement through the EMPP is not the same as private sponsorship through Canada’s refugee resettlement program. The EMPP falls under the economic stream and is intended to be a complementary solution, and therefore the number of people moving under this program is additional to Canada’s resettlement commitment. The costs and commitments required of hiring teams are also very different from those provided by private sponsors.

Who’s hiring?

Some pioneering non-profit teams are already showing what’s possible – including us. TalentLift hired a star Data Engineer who’s now a core part of our team, who will be relocating from a refugee situation in Türkiye. Other non-profit partners of TalentLift that are recruiting from the displaced talent pool include a church in Edmonton, a volunteer and giving platform in Vancouver, and a provider of home, long-term and primary healthcare with locations across Canada.

Why hire?

If you have open roles on your team that are difficult to fill, and your organization is mission-driven, this impactful hiring solution might be right for you. 

In summary, your team can: 

  • Access an underleveraged talent pool (candidates living in refugee situations) with in-demand skills and high potential. 
  • Gain knowledge and experience of different cultures, regions and socio-economic circumstances that will expand diversity of thought on the team. 
  • Gain creative, agile problem-solvers who have remarkable perseverance and determination. 
  • Engage in a transformative change, and in enriching community-building, when your new employee relocates alongside their family from displacement.
  • Put your values of inclusion and community impact into practice through your hiring power.  

How to get started

Get in touch! We’ll set up a discovery call to learn more about your roles and explain how it works. 

And … 

In discussion with candidates living displaced in Ecuador, the TalentLift team asked what they wished Canadian employers knew about them. “People are very resilient, hard-working and very strong,” said one candidate. Another added, “they have an adaptability. They can do different things, not only what they’re trained for,” and “they take adversity as a chance to grow.”

The Canadian charitable sector counts some 86,000 organizations, plus many other non-profits across the country. Imagine the opportunities we can offer to candidates like these to grow.

Join a community of pioneering hiring teams across Canada. Start hiring with TalentLift.

Where the EMPP falls within Canada’s latest immigration plan

Ali, a Fibre Optics Technician, and his family arrived in Toronto last week, headed to their new home in London, Ontario.

Canada continues its work towards reaching an annual immigration target of 500,000 permanent residents. 

Each November, the Canadian Government releases an ‘immigration levels plan’ to forecast permanent resident newcomers to Canada. In recent years, the plan has included a three-year outlook. This year’s plan outlines that in 2024, Canada aims to welcome 485,000 newcomers, in 2025 another 500,000, and in 2026 the level will stay steady at 500,000.


  • The 2024 level represents just over 1% of Canada’s population of 38 million. 
  • The proportion of permanent residents arriving under the economic stream stays consistent with recent years at just under 60% of the overall level. Family immigration accounts for 24% and refugee or protected person immigration is 16%. This distribution stays about even for the three forecasted years, but there are notable changes within each category from year to year. For example, the target number of privately-sponsored refugees rises while government-assisted refugee numbers fall. 
  • The plan includes new annual and progressively increasing French-speaking permanent resident targets outside Quebec, up from 4% in 2023 to 6% in 2024, 7% in 2025, and 8% in 2026. The goal is to uphold bilingualism across Canada and support the growth of French language minority communities.
  • Canada’s Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP), where TalentLift’s work primarily falls, is part of the economic immigration level. Importantly, this means that folks moving from refugee situations because of their skills and talent are additional to Canada’s humanitarian programs. Each talented person hired by a Canadian team is an additional family able to leave displacement behind.
  • Dilruba, supported by our partners at FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance and TalentLift, is featured in this year’s annual report to Parliament. Dilruba is a talented healthcare professional working with the long-term care provider Chancellor Park in St. John’s. The report notes that her employer “struck gold” upon hiring her – and we note that this remarkable team has continued their impactful hiring strategy, providing opportunities to several other team members living in displacement. 
  • Canada plans to create a Chief International Talent Officer role and among the initiatives they will lead are ‘global skills missions’ to recruit talent internationally. 
  • Canada aims to introduce a new ‘client experience platform’ by the end of 2023 where applicants can better follow progress on their visa processing. 

Is the 2024 immigration target a high number? 

The 2024 immigration target of 485,000 is a relatively high number compared to recent decades, but Canada has long welcomed newcomers in ways that help to advance demographics (the Canadian birth rate isn’t high enough to sustain let alone grow the population) and the economy. Annual immigration has also changed and risen, historically, in response to major conflicts around the world.

Where do temporary residents (work permits) fit in? 

The levels plan does not include temporary work permit forecasts. But these numbers are included in an annual report to Parliament submitted by the Immigration Minister. Last year, the number of people who arrived in Canada with temporary work permits was 604,000. This includes people arriving under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the International Mobility Program. 

What are 3 ways to improve Canada’s economic immigration for talented people in refugee situations?

Canada has made remarkable advances in building a more equitable and inclusive economic immigration system for people living in refugee situations worldwide. The growth of the EMPP and the innovations within it are creating new opportunities that benefit displaced families and the teams welcoming them across Canada, and modelling a skills-based solution for the international community. 

Continued innovation can deepen all these benefits, and ensure that anyone with the talent to contribute to Canada can equitably compete for that opportunity. 

First, we encourage Canada to expand access by people living in refugee circumstances to work permits, so they too can leverage this significant entry point to Canada – or 604,000 places in 2022. As noted in the report to Parliament, “a growing number of immigrants who are granted permanent residence are already in Canada as temporary residents.” In fact, many of Canada’s economic immigration programs either require or reward in-Canada experience. Similarly, Canada should extend EMPP accommodations to all permanent residence pathways in the economic stream which currently fall outside the pilot, such as the Express Entry programs. Canada will only achieve full equity for displaced talent when they can access the full suite of economic pathways, permanent and temporary. 

Second, as Canada aims to orient economic immigration to critical labour market needs, the government should introduce greater flexibility in language requirements in its federal programs. Many of these programs have a very high language bar. This includes new pathways under the EMPP for displaced talent, which range from an English level of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 4 to 7, and the French equivalents, depending on pathway. These levels, as well as the standardized test offered by the British Council to demonstrate English proficiency, can be prohibitive in particular for people living in refugee situations who may have fewer opportunities and resources to focus on language upskilling. Instead, TalentLift has recommended accepting an attestation from an employer confirming an applicant has the language ability to perform the job. Or, if a language minimum is in place, using a low CLB and accepting a more accessible test such as the Duolingo remote test.

Third, Canada should swiftly move to make the EMPP a permanent program, in parallel to making changes towards deeper equity. The EMPP is in a pilot stage, although it has operated since 2018. Just as Canada graduated the Atlantic Immigration Program from pilot to permanent fixture, the EMPP is ready for permanence. The EMPP is unique among immigration pilots because it is a set of accommodations as well as visa pathways, all developed to provide greater access to Canada’s economic immigration stream for talented people in displacement. It is at its core an equity program. Moving from a pilot to a permanent program is important for the longevity of these advances, and for ensuring that equity doesn’t change as governments or political priorities do.

With these and other changes, Canada will continue its global leadership as a top destination where displaced talent can thrive. 

Further background can be found at: 

Candidates living in refugee circumstances and seeking a job in Canada can join TalentLift. Employers seeking global talent while engaging their team in something transformative can start hiring.

A new, simple visa lets you relocate colleagues from refugee situations. This World Refugee Day, start meeting them.

Abapi is a nurse who is relocating to Newfoundland and Labrador. She is pictured here with her niece. Photo by Will O’Hare.

Canada launched a new immigration pathway last week to help almost any hiring team recruit and relocate colleagues from refugee situations. 

This country has long understood the value of enabling groups of citizens to get involved in opening our communities to people in displacement. The Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program has seen more than 300,000 people relocate over the years because of this impulse to take individual action in the face of global crises – like oppression in Afghanistan, war in Sudan, refugee camps that persist for decades, or tragic journeys like the fishing boat that capsized near Greece last week carrying as many as 750 people including kids.

Whatever compels us, our workplaces are a major new avenue for Canadians to take action.

The new immigration pathway falls under the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP), which opens some of Canada’s skilled visas to people in refugee situations as a complement to humanitarian programs. This unique pilot recognizes that someone can be both very talented and in a very tough situation.

Like a nurse from Afghanistan, who explained that his bachelor’s degree wasn’t as far as he wanted to go, but if you’re from his country your education just moves at a crawl. He had left Afghanistan once before, then returned, and now spoke with TalentLift from Pakistan while the Taliban are in power. It’s his second time seeking asylum, his second time on pause.

And an electrician from the Tigray region of Ethiopia, who asked quietly, “how long could a visa take?” He was in Kenya’s capital city unlawfully, instead of a refugee camp, so he could keep working. In Kenya, like many countries, it’s very difficult to legally work or to move freely if you’re seeking asylum. He was a contractor doing electrical wiring in commercial buildings in Ethiopia until a few months before.

And a young software developer, who left war in Syria for Turkey and then in February had to leave an earthquake area. But she brightened, almost giggling, to share how she kept learning to code.

The EMPP has been around since 2018 and has removed displacement-related barriers in some of Canada’s skilled visas, for example, no longer requiring valid passports or savings in a bank account. But change was slow and didn’t benefit all willing employers or qualified candidates. Fewer than 200 principal applicants have relocated. 

The new pathway is Canada’s answer to a scale challenge. It promises to accelerate hiring from refugee populations with a visa that is much simpler for employers. The new pathway opens up recruitment for any job, in any sector, in any part of the country outside Quebec, with no market test like the time-intensive Labour Market Impact Assessment, and with a single federal application. The visa takes six months to process, but that’s still fairly good for international recruitment.  

All this means that if you have a job vacancy, you can help a new colleague leave a refugee situation with their family. TalentLift can help you meet them.  

Think of the talent you can gain, and the impact you can have when a new colleague and their family relocate to join your team. 

Just don’t think about that developer in Turkey. Because we’re offering her a job with TalentLift. 

Join a community of pioneering hiring teams across Canada. Start hiring with TalentLift.

With the support of the Scotiabank ScotiaRISE initiative, TalentLift has built a talent platform for displaced job seekers to self-register, develop job-readiness, and connect to transformative job and relocation opportunities to Canada. Learn more.

Omar lands in Vancouver with ChainXY, a company that believes “everyone deserves opportunity”

Home is Palestine but Omar grew up in Lebanon. Like half a million other Palestinians in the same borders, he had refugee status and a limit on what he could do and achieve.

There are nearly 40 professions that Palestinians in Lebanon are legally unable to work in. They can’t own property. They often can’t get work permits or travel permission, or at least not easily. Many live in camps across Lebanon that the United Nations body charged with providing services there says are “characterized by overcrowding, poor housing conditions, unemployment, poverty and lack of access to justice.”

Kids have a way of powering ahead. Omar did, soaking up the opportunities he could find, learning English and studying computer science at the American University of Science and Technology in Beirut and then fullstack development in an intensive program right after undergrad.

He found some good work opportunities in Lebanon, with an international company that ran a bike share app and another food delivery company, but he knew he needed to leave the country to reach his potential and to start building a future. A recent report put the number of Palestinians living in poverty in Lebanon at 93 per cent. That means almost everyone. Lebanese citizens too are struggling amidst a years-long economic and political crisis that saw inflation hit 171% last year.

Omar had a dream about moving to Canada – he doesn’t exactly know why, his twin brother pictured himself in the United Kingdom, but it was Canada for Omar. 

Meanwhile, the team at ChainXY in Vancouver was looking for data extraction developers. The Canadian tech firm curates location data that can help restaurants, retailers, real estate agents and others make good business decisions. An ideal developer to join the team would be someone with a rounded fullstack skillset and fluent with Python, JSON, HTML, C#, and React.

The team learned they might be able to find this skillset while making a big difference in someone’s life: They learned about the opportunity to recruit with TalentLift, searching a global talent pool of displaced job seekers, and gave it a shot.

“ChainXY has always prided itself on the diversity of its team. We value the unique perspective and skills that are brought from people of a diverse background. Hiring someone in refugee circumstances fit with our core values,” said Oszkar Breti, the team’s Chief Revenue Officer. He said it was an easy decision to try this hiring strategy. “We know that the skills and cultural viewpoints would bolster our team and help our business continue to grow.”

Omar’s CV was among the first to come across their desks from TalentLift and ChainXY set up an interview to meet him. The team remembers Omar’s curiosity from that interview – his questions about the company, the team, and the product.

He got the job. 

“The first thing that came into my mind is that I will leave Lebanon and I will get a better life,” Omar said. He would get to grow as a developer – through the work and professional development opportunities with his new team. He would also have a pathway to Canadian citizenship. In Lebanon, where he was born, Omar only ever felt like a foreigner. A chance to get citizenship in Canada “means I will become a normal human.”

He’s already a Vancouverite. Omar landed in a mild Vancouver in early February. This city of mountains over the skyline, oceanside trails, and people from every background is becoming home.

Why should other companies jump in? 

Every team faced with the challenge of finding talent locally can consider displaced peers. 

“This hiring initiative offers a unique chance to help a talented individual in need while simultaneously promoting diversity and inclusion in your work environment,” Oszkar said. It immensely broadens the talent pool to include displaced job seekers. For example, those registered with TalentLift are living in more than 100 countries globally. 

Omar added that refugee situations can lead people to develop, by necessity, wide-ranging skills and experiences. “This can help your company to be more creative, adaptable, and innovative.”

And, there’s the impact. Oszkar’s own family has roots in displacement, having immigrated to Canada when their homes became unsafe. He knows the scale of impact his team is having. 

“Everyone deserves opportunity and if one is in a position to offer it then I’d encourage a person, community, or company to extend it. One opportunity is all that is necessary to make a positive impact in the lives of individuals who have been discriminated against and displaced for being who they are.” – Oszkar Breti, Chief Revenue Officer, ChainXY

Oszkar (left) and Omar at the Vancouver International Airport in February.
Oszkar (left) and Omar at the Vancouver International Airport in February.

Join a community of pioneering hiring teams across Canada. Start hiring with TalentLift.

This international women’s day, meet your new colleague

Aya* is a fullstack developer. She studied communications engineering in undergrad in Syria and launched into front-end programming, and then back-end programming in the few years since, shadowing more senior developers through a bootcamp and in her own family. In the same period, she lived through a war and fled one. Now, she’s in southern Türkiye, and had to leave this new home briefly too after last month’s destructive earthquake. She’s someone who smiles easily, who listens, who you know right away is a lightning-quick thinker.

Some lucky team is going to meet this one and watch her do wonders.

We’re supporting teams across Canada to meet talented job-seekers like Aya. Teams get to bring on needed talent, and extend that job and relocation opportunity to someone in a refugee situation.

It’s a deeply impactful way to hire, and it can’t grow quickly enough. 

There are more than 100 million people living in refugee or displaced situations around the world, and about half of any displaced population are women and girls. They’re often living in countries where they don’t have basic rights. We work with women who can’t open bank accounts, send their kids to school, study, or lawfully work. And yet they find ways to keep going – to keep their skills current, to make a living, to reinvent themselves, sometimes all at once.

Here are just a few of these stars already joining teams and communities across Canada.

Dilruba is a healthcare professional from Afghanistan who told us her favourite thing in Canada is “everything.” She was midway through her nursing studies when she and her family had to leave the country to India for safety. She couldn’t study or work while living as a refugee but held onto the dream that she would one day. Last spring, she joined the team at a long-term care facility in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. Dilruba is working again in her field, in a community that’s in acute need of her talent. 

Sisi graduated with a bachelor’s in nursing in her home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, before she had to leave for safety to Nigeria. There, she was able to keep working in healthcare but only informally, and without a secure path forward for herself or her career. Her next stop, however, is also St. John’s on Canada’s East Coast where she’ll be a Personal Care Attendant and work towards her Canadian nursing license.

Ranim is a music teacher. There are photos of her with children sitting at keyboards during a group lesson. Another photo shows her with one of her students, both smiling and giving a peace sign. She looks happy and the kids look at home with her. Ranim and her partner taught music together for eight years at their school in Homs, Syria, that they built, before it was ruined by bombing. They and their young son are now in a small town in Canada, and that music school is going to be rebuilt.

M. is a researcher who specialized in anthropology and archaeology in Afghanistan. She taught as an Assistant Professor before the Taliban took power in August 2021 and put an end to careers like hers. M. arrived in Canada in January to begin a new role, as a Research Assistant at McMaster University in Hamilton, under a remarkable initiative led by the university’s Committee on Students and Scholars in Crisis to relocate students and scholars from Afghanistan, Ukraine, and beyond.

These are some incredible women. And there are many other talented folks like them, across all skill sets, in need of opportunity. Start hiring with us and meet them. 

*Name changed for anonymity. 

Join a community of pioneering hiring teams across Canada. Start hiring with TalentLift.

With the support of the Scotiabank ScotiaRISE initiative, TalentLift has built a talent platform for displaced job seekers to self-register, develop job-readiness, and connect to transformative job and relocation opportunities to Canada. Learn more.

Researcher from Afghanistan relocates to join McMaster University

M.* is a researcher specialized in anthropology and archaeology in Afghanistan. Until the summer of 2021, she lectured undergraduates at Kabul University as an Assistant Professor. She and other staff and students were part of preserving culturally-significant sites like Gudri Mosque, and uncovering lessons from the past for contemporary urban design. 

She began a master’s program in women and gender studies to better understand the role of women in Afghanistan since the Stone Age, but she had to leave that too, in July 2022, when she crossed into Pakistan to save her life.

A generation of women raised with ambitions in science, education, politics, and social life have watched their country become something unrecognizable since the Taliban took power in August 2021.

The lights went out. Girls can’t go to school past grade six. Women can’t work outside the home nearly without exception. Faces must be covered. Travel alone isn’t allowed. Women who hold onto their rights, or are suspected to want to, can be killed. Last month, someone shot and killed Mursal Nabizada, a female member of Afghanistan’s parliament, in her home in Kabul. 

M. called herself a woman, a feminist, and an academic. But two months after the Taliban took over Afghanistan, M. said, “they destroyed my identity.”

She said that in recent decades, women in Afghanistan could dream. They could become engineers, doctors, professors, and entrepreneurs. They could drive, move freely, and represent their country in government. “That is gone now.”

A group of her peers at McMaster University want to help that dream stay intact.  

M. and her partner arrived in Canada in January, and this week she begins a new role as a Research Assistant at the university. 

The effort to relocate displaced researchers to Hamilton is led by McMaster University’s Committee on Students and Scholars in Crisis. The committee works with faculty in need of talented researchers and the wider university community to raise funds. The university has pledged $800,000 to help students and scholars at risk from Afghanistan, Ukraine, and other countries.

McMaster linked up with members of the Afghan-Canadian community like Marufa Shinwari, with Lisa Middlemiss, a lawyer at Gomberg Dalfen, and with the TalentLift team to support M. This group mapped out her recruitment, relocation, and arrival – a glimpse of the Canadian will to support talented people from Afghanistan and beyond. Our partners at Miles4Migrants unlocked the last leg of the trip, with donated air miles to fly M. and her partner from Pakistan to their new home.

M. becomes the first to arrive at the McMaster University campus under the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP), an immigration program that facilitates access by displaced applicants to Canada’s skilled visa pathways. The pilot opens a critical new mobility solution that complements other options like resettlement and is led by both the federal and provincial governments including the Province of Ontario. 

The McMaster community has a vision to grow these opportunities, through its new initiative to support students and scholars around the world whose lives are interrupted by conflict or persecution. Marufa Shinwari, a PhD student at McMaster and a key part of the network supporting M., has a message for them. “Keep fresh whatever dream or plan you have in your life,” she said. “[Your] journey will start again.”

*Name withheld to protect identity. 

Join a community of pioneering hiring teams across Canada. Start hiring with TalentLift.

Scotiabank invests $950,000 in TalentLift’s mission to support displaced talent worldwide

Mohamad and his family arrive from displacement, greeted by the President of Alliance Store Fixtures, a manufacturer in Woodbridge.

A carpenter and his family arrived in Toronto to begin work with a furniture designer and manufacturer last week. They are from Syria and leave years spent living as refugees in Lebanon. This week, an archaeologist displaced from Afghanistan arrived for a research role, one she begins with a top university in Canada. A software developer is on his way to Vancouver next week, also from a refugee situation.

All have skills needed by teams in Canada, and all are able to use their talent to leave displacement and advance their careers in new home communities. 

These life-changing relocations are possible when people living as refugees have a fair shot at opportunity. And these opportunities are set to grow.

Scotiabank will invest $950,000 over three years in support of scaling the TalentLift talent platform to connect displaced job seekers with employers in Canada.

With earlier transformational funding from Scotiabank’s ScotiaRISE initiative, TalentLift launched a talent platform database that enables job seekers in refugee circumstances worldwide to connect with Canadian employers seeking to recruit and relocate talent, as a skills-based solution to their displacement. 

We’re tackling a long-standing, damaging hourglass problem: There are many thousands of talented people in refugee circumstances and many in-demand roles employers would be glad to fill with this talent, but very limited infrastructure has existed to match candidates to opportunities. Our talent platform is critical infrastructure to help connect Canadian employers facing skills shortages with the immense talent and potential within refugee populations. 

Already, people in refugee circumstances living in more than 100 countries have registered their skills on the talent platform. In our start-up year, 31 people secured jobs with the support of TalentLift and our partners. When including spouses and children, this totals 83 people who relocated or were in the process of relocating from refugee circumstances to secure lives in Canada. They arrive for skills-appropriate work with an average salary of $57,000 (and as high as $110,000), with access to public health, schools for their kids, and a pathway to permanent residence and citizenship. 

We are eager to grow our impact quickly from here. 

A grim milestone passed in the last year with more than 100 million people living displaced globally in countries with few options to achieve livelihoods or security. And yet, we know that many thousands of refugees globally have the skills to immediately contribute in new communities across Canada if given the opportunity.

We can’t wait to scale these opportunities – and see the impact these stars have in their new teams and communities. 

Read more about ScotiaRISE, Scotiabank’s 10-year, $500 million initiative to promote economic resilience among disadvantaged groups, and about the bank’s commitment to diversity and inclusion

Candidates living in refugee circumstances and seeking a job in Canada can join TalentLift. Employers seeking global talent while engaging their team in something transformative can start hiring.

Canadian hiring teams can “take a leap” in East Africa and beyond

There are more than 27 million people living in refugee situations worldwide, and one third are living in countries in Africa. 

We got a chance to hear from a few people in the East Africa region about their experience getting a job offer in Canada. Our team was in Nairobi at a meeting organized by the regional UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) team to raise awareness and share good practice on supporting talented folks to access job opportunities in Canada and beyond as a solution to their displacement.

Bahati is a nurse who was living in Kenya as a refugee before our partners at RefugePoint and the Shapiro Foundation supported her to connect with the Glen Haven Manor team in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, where she’s living and working today. She was back in Nairobi too reflecting on her experience. Bahati recalled that for so long, “you’re living day to day, you don’t know what the future is going to be.” She also felt the weight of her identify as a refugee – which changed when she got to Canada. “The minute you step off the plane, you’re not a refugee anymore.”

“I expected to be identified as a refugee. It becomes who you are.” Instead, she found a team who saw her as a colleague first. 

The Bahati I got to know is a nursing professional, a mom, a partner, a leading voice advocating for open skilled visas for displaced talent, warm, funny, and an eager friend to anyone.

Tekle also shared his experience getting a job offer in Canada. He too is a nurse and got a job offer with Chancellor Park in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, another part of the country facing a critical shortage of healthcare staff. TalentLift met Tekle through our partners at UNHCR in the East Africa region and connected him to the Chancellor Park team. His visa process is underway. 

It’s remarkable to hear as part of someone’s personal story the urgent question about everyone else. Tekle said he’s the only one he knows so far who got an opportunity to meet a Canadian hiring team, but “there are thousands of others with skills.” Not only nurses, but countless professionals.

Bahati spoke directly to scaling our work too. To governments, she urged: “Barriers that can be removed, should be removed.” People who are in refugee situations are an equity-deserving group, and we can level the field for them in Canadian skilled immigration by overcoming disadvantages they face that have nothing to do with skills or potential.

“They have been through so much, and they shouldn’t be taken through other things that are unnecessary,” she said. “If there’s any policy we see we can influence to make it easier for them and their families, we should.”

The Canadian Government is listening. It recently announced forthcoming changes to the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP) aimed at greater access. But better is always possible – and TalentLift will keep advocating for ways to deepen equity and scale opportunities. 

We’re also deeping our partnerships in East Africa as we work to ensure people living in all geographies can be visible to Canadian hiring teams. We’re working with partners in Ethiopia and Rwanda now and we invite candidates anywhere to register on our talent platform. 

Candidates register on the talent platform in the UNHCR office in Jijiga, Ethiopia.

We need hiring teams right beside us. We need the leadership of Canadian companies to welcome many more talented job-seekers like Bahati and Tekle – to join your team and leave displacement behind.

As Doug Stephens, General Manager Operations, of the MacLeod Group said, “take a leap.” Andrew Walsh, the former CEO of Iress, knows that the ripple effects throughout the business will be “immeasurable.”


Join a community of pioneering hiring teams across Canada. Start hiring with TalentLift.

A global, diverse, extraordinary talent pool in displacement is in reach

Employers recruiting with TalentLift have a global, diverse, extraordinary talent pool in reach. Our talent platform is a bridge between Canadian hiring teams and talented job seekers living in refugee circumstances globally. 

For a long time, Canada’s skilled visas didn’t work for people living in refugee circumstances no matter how talented they were. Today, that’s changing. Canada has removed barriers like requiring a valid passport, which is impossible for people who can’t get one from a home government like Afghanistan or Syria, and requiring savings in a bank account. These requirements have nothing to do with skills and potential, and have structurally disadvantaged displaced talent. 

With visas opening up, TalentLift and our partners are supporting this talent pool to get visible – and in front of Canada’s hiring teams. 

Who are TalentLift candidates? 

Incredible people, first off. All are job seekers currently living in refugee circumstances and seeking an opportunity to contribute their skills, and to relocate alongside their families somewhere they can put down roots and thrive.  

Our candidates are living in more than 100 countries. The top 10 geographies where TalentLift candidates registered on the talent platform are living as refugees are: Ethiopia, Pakistan, Peru, Nigeria, Iran, India, Turkey, Lebanon, Poland, and Kenya. 

Countries where TalentLift candidates registered on the talent platform are living in refugee circumstances. 

The top 10 countries of origin of candidates are: Afghanistan, Eritrea, Cameroon, Venezuela, Somalia, Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ukraine, and Yemen. Their professions span sectors like manufacturing, engineering, tech, healthcare, child care, hospitality, and numerous skilled trades. 

Countries of birth or citizenship of TalentLift candidates registered on the talent platform.

Every day, we and our employer partners meet extraordinary people. Here are just a few of them:

Sisi graduated with a bachelor’s in nursing in her home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, before she had to leave for safety to Nigeria. There, she was able to keep working in healthcare but only informally, and without a secure path forward for herself or her career. Her next stop, however, is St. John’s on Canada’s East Coast where she’ll be a Personal Care Attendant and work towards her Canadian nursing license. Her skills are needed by almost every community across Canada, and Chancellor Park in St. John’s is the team that met and hired her first. She’ll follow in the steps of another new member of the Chancellor Park team, Dilruba, a healthcare professional originally from Afghanistan who said her favourite thing in Canada is “everything.”

Tahsin learned software engineering only after leaving the country where he was born, Myanmar, when he was a kid. He left because it wasn’t – and still isn’t – safe for people who are Rohingya. His family had to relocate to Indonesia, where folks living as refugees can be barred from basics like opening a bank account. Tahsin learned his computer skills from scratch in Indonesia and took courses he couldn’t officially get credit for to soak up information. Now, he’s working as a Full Stack Developer for Canadian green tech company EnPowered while applying for a skilled visa to Waterloo. In Canada, he’ll have permanent residence and a pathway to obtain his first-ever citizenship. New hires at EnPowered share electricity jokes when they start. We think he gets full points for this: “Renewable Energy? I am A Big Fan.”

How do hiring teams meet candidates? 

Get in touch! Once we know more about your open roles and your team, we’ll shortlist candidates with the skills you need.

Our goal is a seamless recruitment and relocation experience for you and the candidates you hire. TalentLift provides talent search, visa, and relocation services all in house. We know that a seamless experience for hiring teams is part of raising the competitiveness of our candidates.

How do candidates register with TalentLift? 

Candidates living in refugee circumstances anywhere can register their skills and aspirations on TalentLift’s talent platform. Registration on the talent platform is simple and free. Candidates can create a profile in minutes and return anytime to update it. We don’t charge candidates any fees at any time. 

On the talent platform, candidates can: 

  • Register a profile to be visible to Canadian employers seeking international talent
  • Upload a CV or create one using our CV builder
  • Express interest in open job opportunities
  • Access upskilling opportunities such as English language courses
  • Live chat with the TalentLift team about any questions

How does TalentLift find candidates? 

Often, they find us! But we also invest in finding them by working with some outstanding non-profit organizations in different refugee-hosting countries globally. Among our partners are FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance, HIAS, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Refugee Action Hub (MIT ReACT), Talent Beyond Boundaries, Lifeline Afghanistan, and several UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) country offices. We intentionally pursue partnerships in underserved geographies, which we consider as places hosting populations of concern to UNHCR but representing low levels of humanitarian resettlement to Canada. 

Another thing you should know about TalentLift? 

We never say no to a challenge facing our candidates, and we’ve never met a closed door without finding an open window. No documents? Can’t register without government ID for an IELTS English test? Can’t get permission to travel internally? No internet connection? An exit process? We solve each and every outlandish and ridiculous obstacle facing talented people in displacement whose skills are needed by teams in Canada. 

Our commitment is a seamless recruitment and relocation experience. That’s our contribution to levelling the field, for the teams and candidates who make transformative hiring happen.

Start hiring: https://www.talentlift.ca/engage/start-hiring/

With the support of the Scotiabank ScotiaRISE initiative, TalentLift has built a talent platform for displaced job seekers to self-register, develop job-readiness, and connect to transformative job and relocation opportunities to Canada. Learn more.

Miles4Migrants advances equity for talented people living as refugees, with donated flights to new homes

Adnan and Ranim and their son during a flight from Beirut to Toronto. Adnan and Ranim, both musicians and music teachers, left their home country of Syria during the war.

What does it mean to support talented people living in refugee circumstances to compete, on an equal footing with international talent from any other background, for job and skilled visa opportunities? 

It means removing as many barriers as possible between Canadian teams and displaced job seekers, for a seamless recruitment and relocation experience. 

For TalentLift, this has involved working alongside pioneering companies to design inclusive hiring processes; alongside governments to remove visa-related barriers under the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP); alongside the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and NGO partners around the world to onboard job seekers on our talent platform; and alongside Miles4Migrants for barrier-free travel to Canada. 

Many of the candidates we support have little or no savings to finance their relocation, and reducing the costs for them and their employers (who substantially contribute) is significant in advancing their access to job opportunities.

Mulham, a carpenter, and his family fly from Tripoli, Libya, where they were living as refugees from Syria, to their new home in Toronto.

Each candidate relocating to Canada with TalentLift’s support has taken a flight booked by our partners at Miles4Migrants, a charity that uses donated miles to fly people in refugee circumstances to their new homes. Once a visa is approved and our candidates and their families can travel for work to Canada, Miles4Migrants books a flight at no cost to the family and without any administrative burden to them.

Travel is stressful at the best of times, but our candidates have faced steep exit fees from a host country, denial of boarding, and denial of transit – because, even with everything in order, overworked airport or airline staff are the ultimate greenlight on entry and can misinterpret complex visa rules. All this plus lives packed up in suitcases, children, maybe pets, and – for many – the first time ever travelling by plane. The Miles4Migrants team has been with us through it all, including late nights of rebookings or airport hotel bookings, always with expertise, calm, and the deepest empathy. 

Everyone is invested in a smooth experience for a family’s departure, in contrast with difficult movements in their past.

Miles4Migrants is behind the final stretch of a displacement journey to new homes across Canada. But cost-free, seamless flights have been fundamental in the work leading up to relocations too – this support is part of making job and skilled visa opportunities increasingly accessible to displaced talent.

How to get involved

The remarkable work of our partners at Miles4Migrants is powered by donations. 

  • Donate your airline miles, credit card points, flight credits, or cash to help people living as refugees worldwide reach their new homes: https://miles4migrants.org/donate/ 
  • Share this post with colleagues, friends and family who may be keen to contribute. 

If your team can’t find the skills you need locally, start hiring internationally with TalentLift to find talent within the global refugee population. Be part of a transformative relocation for a new employee and their family. 

Andrii, an engineer, and Natalia, an architect, fly with their daughter from Munich to Toronto, with a stop to pick up visas in Vienna. The family left Ukraine during the war.