Hiring with Impact: Employers now have a faster route to hire displaced talent to address skills shortages

Dilruba is a talented nurse from Afghanistan who relocated to St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, under the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP)

Canada’s Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced today that a new federal immigration pathway is coming this summer to support Canadian employers to hire candidates living as refugees.  

The new pathway will be an expansion of Canada’s Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP) and will not replace the current EMPP changes to other existing visa pathways, but will operate as an additional route. 

The goal is a simpler and faster pathway that helps to scale the use of jobs and skilled visas to Canada as a solution to displacement and to help fill gaps in skills shortages across all sectors in Canada. Employers are experiencing severe shortages and collaborative solutions are needed. 

What we know about the new EMPP federal pathway so far is that it will include job offers under any National Occupation Classification (NOC) 2021 category (TEER 0-5) and will be a one-step permanent residence application that IRCC aims to process within six months.

The new pathway is expected to include existing EMPP accommodations, such as:

  • Use of a loan from a trusted microlender to satisfy a settlement funds requirement, if applicable
  • Use of an expired passport or other ID in place of a valid passport 
  • Waiver of the permanent residence processing fee and biometrics fee
  • Applicants will not be required to have a refugee status determination (RSD) and can use a referral letter from trusted partners like TalentLift that have expertise in assessing eligibility. 

More information on the new federal EMPP pathway, including eligibility criteria, will be available in the coming weeks and shared on our website.

TalentLift and our partners have long advocated for simpler and faster visa pathways for displaced applicants. Canada’s existing skilled visa pathways disproportionately exclude displaced applicants for reasons that have nothing to do with skills or potential – they face ongoing barriers through requirements like demonstrating ‘temporary intent’ to be eligible for work permits (the fastest route to Canada), demonstrating Canadian work experience, and providing proof of education through original transcripts. 

This pathway is a big win for displaced talent globally and the hiring teams eager to get involved. We’re grateful to see this advance towards greater equity, and therefore greater scale for this impactful hiring solution. We hope to see IRCC continue advancing changes to other skilled visa pathways that are needed for deeper equity. 

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, through talent search, visa, and relocation services.



“This is an innovative program that doesn’t seek to maximize the economic opportunity for refugees by chance but by choice.” – Minister Fraser

“If we develop a program that allows people to do the right thing that also meets an essential need there is no limit on what we can achieve.”- Minister Fraser

“I could put 25,000 people to work today, and that’s only in Ontario.” – Joseph Mancinelli, International VP and Regional Manager for Central and Eastern Canada, LiUNA! who introduced Minister Fraser at today’s announcement

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.

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. 

ScotiaRISE invests $400,000 in TalentLift to help job seekers in refugee circumstances find work and settle in Canada

Mulham can build almost any wooden furniture and home decor. A baby crib with flowers carved into the headboard, a staircase, high-backed chairs, and a low coffee table with patterned sides are pictured in his portfolio.

His skills are prized in Canada where tradespeople are in critical shortage and are needed to drive growth in sectors like construction and manufacturing.

Mulham has a job offer with a furniture designer and manufacturer in Ontario. With TalentLift’s support, he applied for the job from outside Canada and is waiting for a skilled visa before he and his family immigrate to their new home.

The family will move from Libya where they now live as refugees. Mulham, his partner and their three children are from Syria and can’t return there safely or plan ahead in Libya with any certainty. Bribes and threats are everyday encounters with periodic arrests targeting the displaced community. Thousands have left these conditions to make dangerous sea journeys to Europe.

Mulham, a remarkable craftsperson, used his skills to unlock a better future.

Moving for work on skilled visas is an emerging opportunity for the 26 million people living as refugees worldwide who have historically had few options to achieve livelihoods and security, despite their skills and potential. Skilled visas attract newcomers with jobs or in-demand skills and are complementary and additional to humanitarian programs. Through an innovative pilot, Canada is expanding access to skilled immigration pathways working with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and non-profit partners like TalentLift. 

TalentLift is a non-profit talent agency assisting Canadian employers in recruiting and relocating talent from within refugee populations as a solution to skills shortages in Canada and displacement worldwide. It’s the first organization of its kind to offer employers and the candidates they hire in-house services encompassing talent search, visa application, and settlement coordination. With funding from ScotiaRISE, TalentLift is building a talent platform for displaced job seekers to self-register, develop job-readiness, and connect to transformative job and relocation opportunities.

By raising awareness of this out-of-country talent pool and providing a seamless experience for hiring teams, TalentLift is ensuring more people like Mulham can use their skills to compete for life-changing jobs and skilled visas.

“The global talent pool includes people in displaced and refugee circumstances, who when given the right opportunities, can make enormous contributions in new workplaces and communities,” said Sandra Odendahl, Vice President of Social Impact and Sustainability at Scotiabank. “Full inclusion begins before arrival in Canada, with the opportunities that make the journey possible. Through ScotiaRISE we are proud to partner with organizations like TalentLift to provide newcomers with the tools and resources needed to find jobs and build homes in Canada.”

Through TalentLift, assistance recipients and their families achieve a secure status with a pathway to Canadian permanent residence and citizenship. Once TalentLift candidates relocate to Canada, they enter jobs commensurate with their skills and career potential in communities where they can thrive. 

For Mulham, this is a chance “to start a new life, to ensure that my children receive a good education and the right to live in a country that values equality among all people, away from conflicts, insecurity and fear of the future.” He hopes others living in displacement find the same opportunity. “They deserve to get better job opportunities in a place that appreciates their talent, ambition and humanity.” 

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