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.