Update on the Economic Mobility Program for Refugees (phase 2): The Economic Mobility Pathways Project (“EMPP”)
Included in Beyond the Border – July 2022
By Brittany Trafford; Fredericton
In an attempt to address the Canadian labour market shortages, the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (“EMPP”), was introduced in 2018. The EMPP started out as a small research project to see whether there were refugees with the skills and qualifications to access existing economic immigration pathways. Now, with some administrative measures to offset the circumstances of their displacement, the EMPP is working to provide long lasting solutions for skilled refugees who are needed by Canadian employers. The EMPP was implemented in two phases with the goal of immigrating skilled refugees to Canada through existing economic programs. A previous article in our publication reviewed Phase 1 but we are currently in phase 2 of the EMPP.
Lessons from Phase 1
Phase 1 of the EMPP facilitated the immigration of 6 skilled refugees and 9 of their family members. The initial findings of phase 1 have demonstrated that there are skilled refugees who are able to meet the program requirements, however, they face challenges when doing so. Refugees were found to have faced the following challenges when applying as economic immigrants:
- Regulatory and Legislative Obstacles – As it stands, there are regulatory requirements that prohibit the issuance of work permits to those who are unable to meet the requirements set out in the law. Examples are found under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.
- Operational Accommodations – There is a need for further examination as to how to make the process, as a whole, smoother for the incoming refugees.
- Identification of Refugee Skills – The current program is not collecting enough data regarding the incoming refugees’ skills and employment experience, which impacts the determining of eligibility for job opportunities.
- Access to Information and Awareness – Many refugees are not aware of their options falling under the newer pathways.
- Job-Matching with Employers in Destination Countries – Refugees are often limited in their ability to make connections with prospective employers (ex: no stable internet connection, etc.) and employers are unaware of the talent that is present in the overseas populations.
- Financial Requirements – Refugees may not have the funds required to cover the costs associated with economic immigration.
The second phase of the EMPP is building upon the lessons learned through Phase 1. Phase 2 of the EMPP is the implementation of public policy which is intended to support the EMPP. The public policy introduces facilitation measures that will remove major displacement-related barriers, thus making it easier for skilled refuges to access economic immigration. This public policy is intended to address the unique challenges that are faced by skilled refugees due to the circumstances of their displacement when applying for the economic immigration pathways to Canada.
The public policy will exempt EMPP clients overseas from some applicable requirements of the Provincial Nominee Class, the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program, the Atlantic Immigration Class and the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot economic immigration pathways.
Some of the exemptions include: allowing candidates to apply for the Immigration Loan Program, and to show to financial resources such as grants or loans for which access is not yet in place as part of their financial admissibility; exemption to the time-bound requirements for work experience selection criteria (allowing significant gaps in the work history); potential exemptions to some documentation requirements and assessment of other evidentiary proof in substitution (for example for proof of work history but not for any required language or educational requirements).
EMPP candidates must still meet the class membership and the selection criteria of one of the above mentioned existing economic classes, in addition to satisfying a processing officer that they can economically establish in Canada. EMPP candidates will immigrate to Canada under one of the existing permanent residence economic classes, and will also be eligible for settlement and integrative services and supports.
Phase 2 of the EMPP is being implemented in two stages. Stage 1 will cap processing at 150 applications from principal applicants and ends June 30, 2022. Stage 2 will cap processing at 350 applications from principal applicants, and begins July 1, 2022.
This update is intended for general information only. If you have further questions about these programs or are an employer seeking to support your workers, please contact a member of our Immigration Group.
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