December 16, 2021

Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot: Immigration Options for Skilled Refugees

Posted by Athena Portokalidis - Bellissimo Law Group PC

On 3 December 2021, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced that the second phase of the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP) is now open.[1] The pilot is intended to recognize “the talents and skills of refugees by welcoming them through existing economic immigration streams” and offers 500 spots for refugees plus their families.[2] This is especially significant considering the Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident Pathway which closed on 5 November 2021[3] was criticized by many as excluding refugees and refugee claimants from the process. While the EMPP is only open to applicants outside of Canada,[4] it demonstrates a significant step in the right direction in terms of expanding eligibility for economic immigration programs for Canada.

In addition to the requirement to be outside of Canada, the EMPP eligibility requirements include:

  • Applicants must be a convention refugee or country of asylum refugee;
  • Applicants must have one of the following documents:
    • A valid, positive Refugee Status Document (RSD) from the UNHCR or a refugee-hosting state;
    • A document that showing registration or record of asylum seeker abroad;
    • A “person of concern” letter from the UNHCR (not available yet from UNHCR);
  • Applicants must be outside of their country of persecution;
  • Applicants must have no durable solution in a third country; and
  • Applicants must be admissible to Canada.[5]

Aside from meeting the eligibility requirements for the EMPP, applicants must also meet the requirements for an economic immigration program such as: Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP) High-Skilled or Intermediate Skilled Program, Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), or Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP).[6] The program does allow for certain exemptions from some of the requirements for the AIP programs, waives application and biometrics fees, facilitates the use of loans to meet certain financial requirements, and IRCC aims at processing such applications as quickly as possible.[7] While certainly important that IRCC is taking initiative to expand eligibility for certain economic immigration programs, there still remain significant gaps and barriers to immigration to Canada that hopefully IRCC can address in the near future.