General program

The high cost of education, training, and licensing in Canada is a major obstacle for newcomer professionals seeking to achieve their career goals. Lacking income, collateral or credit history in Canada, it is difficult, if not impossible, for them to access mainstream credit to pay for the certification, training or licensing they may need.

Windmill Microlending (formerly Immigrant Access Fund – IAF) can loan up to $15,000 to cover education, licensing or training expenses for skilled newcomers seeking professional success. Windmill Microlending’s’s vision is that skilled immigrants are able to contribute their expertise to Canada’s economic and social success, which is not always possible if they are stuck in unemployment or low paying “survival” jobs.

Since 2005, Windmill Microlending has provided about $35 million in loans to 4,500 immigrants in different occupations across Canada. Anyone born and educated outside of Canada meeting the requirements may be eligible for a Windmill Microlending loan. Canadian credit history is not required, and a Windmill Microlending loan has helped many newcomers to build a positive credit rating.

Loans for refugees

Since 2016, Windmill Microlending has also been offering a loan specifically for refugee newcomers, in addition to its standard loan for immigrants generally. Whereas interest is charged on a standard loan made to a non-refugee immigrant, a refugee loan bears no interest. Both are repayable over a maximum of four years. Those not eligible for a refugee loan may still be able to access the standard loan program.

Applications can be completed entirely online and typically take one to three weeks to be approved.


To be eligible for a Windmill Microlending refugee loan, the applicant must have attained convention refugee/protected person status 3 years or less from the time of making a Windmill Microlending application (regardless of current status)

Windmill Microlending standard and refugee loans are character-based. Loans are approved on the strength of the applicant’s character and strength of their career development or learning plan. No collateral or credit history in Canada is required.

Permitted Uses

Loans may be used for:

  • Education and training programs of two years or less
  • Fees for licensing and qualifying exams
  • Travel expenses to take courses or write exams which are unavailable in your area
  • Assessment of qualifications
  • Fees for professional associations
  • Books, supplies and other course materials
  • Living allowance during study time (if you need to quit your job or reduce your hours during study time)
  • Other costs related to restarting your career may be considered

Loan repayment

You have up to four years to pay back your loan. Generally, your payments will be a set of minimum payments while you are completing your licensing/learning plan (to a maximum of two years). Your payments will increase once you find employment or two years after your loan is received.

As with standard Windmill loans, borrowers will be registered with Equifax to begin building their credit history in Canada. Click here to learn more about our loan terms and conditions.