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Louise Bélanger
COA Global Manager
Nairobi (Kenya)

Joanie Durocher
COA Project and Liaison Officer
Ottawa (Canada)

For any enquiries regarding the Canadian Orientation Abroad (COA) project, please send an email to

Canadian Orientation Abroad (COA) is a project implemented by IOM, funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). COA provides pre-departure information and orientation to Refugees, Immigrants and Live-in Caregivers to help them adapt to life in Canada.

IOM has been successfully implementing pre-departure orientation training on behalf of Canada for over two decades. Since the inception of COA in November 1998 up to December 2013, 172,175 visa-ready participants have attended a pre-departure orientation session. Participation in COA sessions is voluntary and free of charge. Sessions to refugees generally take place over three days, while sessions to immigrants are one day.

COA is supported by IOM’s training methodology, which takes an interactive, learner-centred approach that accommodates the different learning styles. Working with a wide range of experts and partners in Canada and abroad, COA has developed various curriculums and handbooks that are distributed during the sessions.

Project Objectives

Refugees and immigrants bound for Canada typically have a limited understanding of the Canadian culture and society, coupled with unrealistic expectations on settlement and life in Canada. In some cases, future immigrants have also been misinformed or have not considered all the factors related to their integration in the Canadian society and the Canadian labour market. Since this lack of information can potentially hamper successful settlement and integration, the COA project provides information and resources that will empower newcomers and provides them with a better chance of integrating successfully. 

The objectives of the COA project are to:

  • Provide migrants of all categories, including Live-in Caregivers, with accurate information about life in Canada;
  • Help migrants develop realistic expectations regarding their settlement in Canada;
  • Increase and develop migrants' awareness and skills necessary to successfully adapt to their new life, especially during their first six months of stay in Canada;
  • Increase migrants' capacity to integrate to the Canadian labour market; 
  • Address any questions and concerns that the migrants may have regarding their move to Canada.


  • Refugees
  • Skilled Workers
  • Family Class
  • Provincial Nominees
  • Live-in Caregivers 
  • Investors

COA Around the World

COA is offered at 15 permanent sites, which covers over 40 locations worldwide. 

  Permanent Sites


  Colombia (RS)

  Refugees, Immigrants





  Ghana (RS)




  Kenya (RS)



  Refugees, Immigrants

  Malaysia (RS)

  Refugees, Immigrants




  Refugees, Immigrants


  Immigrants, Live-in Caregivers

  Russia (RS)


  Sri Lanka

  Refugees, Immigrants





Beyond the 15 permanent sites, mobile COA sessions to refugees are offered in various locations, based on demand. COA permanent sites in Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, Malaysia and Russia act as Regional Sites (RS) and provide regional mobile sessions when needed. In 2013, COA sessions have also been provided to refugees being resettled from Syria to Canada. 

"The overall objective of the COA project is to contribute to delivery systems designed to enhance Canadian immigration and to strengthen the government’s capacity to ensure successful settlement, adaptation and integration of newcomers into Canadian society. Though this outcome can only be seen in Canada, the challenge and the accomplishments start abroad, one refugee, one immigrant, and one live-in caregiver at a time, through the dedication of many COA trainers scattered in the four corners of the world."
-- Louise Bélanger, COA Global Project Manager, and East and southern Africa Coordinator

Refugees in Cairo, Egypt show their certificates of completion of the Canadian Orientation Abroad (COA) course. © IOM 2007

Refugees attend their Canadian Orientation Abroad (COA) course graduation at the Timisoara Transit Centre in Romania. © IOM 2009

Canadian Orientation Abroad

COA is a pre-departure training project funded by the Government of Canada through Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM)


cicThis project is funded by the Government of Canada through Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)

canada air

Are you migrating to Canada? Would you like to attend a pre-departure seminar? If so, what is your country of residence?

Philippines | Pakistan

Sri Lanka | Colombia