Refugee Economic Pathways  

**Sarah Shibley, an associate with SSH Law provides the following details regarding refugee economic pathways**

The updated Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP) makes it easier for skilled refugees and other displaced individuals to immigrate to Canada. There are two ways in which you can apply for this program:

  1. The Regional EMPP, which is for applicants who have a pre-existing Canadian job offer; or
  2. The Federal EMPP, which is for those without job offers in Canada.


To be eligible under either stream, an applicant must be a refugee or displaced person as determined by several criteria under the policy. These include holding a positive Refugee Status Determination (RSD) from either the UNHCR or proof of being registered or recorded as a person of concern by the UNHCR if RSD determination is unavailable or still in processing. The policy lists a few other documentation options and instructions for those who are unable to obtain any of the listed documents (see here: Updated Public Policy to Support the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot – Phase 2 –


  1. Regional EMPP

The regional EMPP consists of three different economic programs:


First, an applicant has to meet the standalone eligibility requirements for one of these three programs. Readers can view the program requirements by clicking the above hyperlinks. Applicants must be admissible to Canada and must meet the application economic program requirements, including English language requirements, work experience and other stream-specific criteria.


  1. Federal EMPP

Alternatively, applications processed through the Federal EMPP branch are handled directly by the Canadian government through the Federal EMPP stream. There are two separate streams under this category: the ‘Job Offer’ and ‘No Job Offer’ streams:


  • Job Offer Stream: Applicants must have a valid job offer confirming the ability to work in Canada
  • No Job Offer Stream: Applicants must have work experience equal to 1560 hours of work gained over the last three years, a Canadian secondary school credential OR a foreign degree that has been issued in last 5 years, prove efficiency in the English language by taking an approved language test in English or French, and prove that they have the funds to support themselves and their family in Canada.


So, what are the benefits of applying through the EMPP? As listed in the policy, there are several incentives for refugees to apply under the EMPP program rather than the regular provincial and federal streams, including:

  1. Reduced processing time: applications are expected to be reviewed and processed in six months or less, in comparison to the current 12-month wait time associated with the existing refugee claims system.
  2. Waiver of some processing fees: all application and biometric fees for applicants and their dependents are waived and the cost of medical exams will be covered through the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP).
  3. Immigration Loans Program: Applicants will also have access to the Immigration Loans Program upon approval which will allow for financial aid for covering the cost associated with travel, some pre-arrival services, and the right of permanent residence fee.


Ultimately the EMPP will facilitate the immigration of skilled refugees through the pre-existing economic programs. In the interest of providing “durable solutions for refugees and other displaced people with the skills and qualifications that Canadian employers need”, the EMPP expedites the PR process, waives some fees and reduces the financial stress involved in immigrating to Canada by offering loans.


While we laud the advent of this program update, we hope that it will be expanded in the months to come. The program will close once Canada has received 500 applications.

Sarah Shibley