Since 1998, the Canadian Orientation Abroad (COA) programme has been providing information and orientation sessions to refugees before their departure to Canada. The main objective of the programme is to increase the integration outcomes of refugees resettling to Canada by supporting their pre-departure preparation.  

The COA programme is a global initiative funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and implemented worldwide by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). IOM is a United Nations agency, the leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration. Established in 1951, IOM is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all with more than 170 member states and offices in over 100 countries. 

  • In-person training is 15 hours, spread over 3 days; with adult and youth-focused curricula. 
  • In-person group sessions have an average of 25 participants. 
  • Refugees aged 13 and over resettling to Canada are eligible. 
  • Many permanent COA training locations have regional functions and deliver in-person mobile training sessions in other countries as well as remote sessions using virtual or telephonic modalities. 
  • Support services available: interpretation, childminding, meals, transportation and accommodation grants. 

The COA programme is based on an interactive delivery model which draws from the wealth of experience of participants, ensures content is accessible to all learning profiles, and fosters active participation. COA sessions provide relevant, accurate, and timely information and orientation on targeted topics such as travel, initial settlement, and in-Canada services. A mix of digital tools, printed materials and activities are used to help participants engage in learning and better retain information.