Temporary public policy to exempt certain visitors in Canada from immigration requirements during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic


As a result of the unprecedented upheaval caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many foreign nationals have found themselves in Canada for the foreseeable future without the ability to seek employment as visitors in Canada. This includes former temporary foreign workers who transitioned to visitor status upon the expiry of their work permits and visitors who had their original plans disrupted by COVID-19 impacts such as international border closures, job loss, or illness.

Despite increased unemployment across Canada, labour shortages persist in key areas of the Canadian economy, including in sectors such as agriculture and healthcare. In-Canada visitors may have the experience and skills needed to fill the gaps where employers may have previously sought workers from abroad. Allowing visitors to apply for work permits associated with a job offer while in Canada would give foreign nationals with visitor status the ability to support themselves during their time in Canada while also addressing employer needs. 

Therefore, I hereby establish that, pursuant to my authority under section 25.2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (the Act), there are sufficient public policy considerations that justify the granting of exemptions from the requirements of the Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (the Regulations) listed below to foreign nationals who meet the conditions (eligibility requirements) set out below.

This public policy will:

Conditions (eligibility requirements):

Based on public policy considerations, delegated officers may grant an exemption, until a decision is made on the work permit application described below or the application is withdrawn, from the requirements of the Act and the Regulations identified if:

  1. The foreign national:
    1. is in Canada with valid temporary resident status;
    2. was in Canada when this public policy took effect, and has remained in Canada; and
    3. has submitted a work permit application to perform work described in subparagraphs 200(1)(c)(ii.1) or 200(1)(c)(iii) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, for which a decision has not been made.
  2. The foreign national:
    1. meets the conditions listed in 1;
    2. held a valid work permit in the 12 months preceding the date on which they submitted their application for a work permit under this public policy;
    3. intends to work for the employer and/or occupation as specified by the job offer included in their work permit application described in 1(iii);
    4. has applied to IRCC for the public policy exemption listed in (B.) below using the electronic means identified by the department for that purpose; and
    5. has requested that the exemption listed in (B.) be applicable until a decision is made on their work permit application described in 1(iii).

Provisions of the Regulations for which an exemption may be granted, if applicable, until a decision is made on the work permit application, or the work permit application is withdrawn:

  1. For foreign nationals who meet the conditions listed in 1:
  1. For foreign nationals who meet the conditions listed in 2:

Other Admissibility and Selection Criteria

Foreign nationals eligible under this public policy are subject to all other legislative obligations and admissibility and selection requirements not exempted under this, or another, public policy.

Effective date and expiration

This public policy takes effect on the day on which it is signed and expires on March 31, 2021.

Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
Dated at Ottawa, this 24th day of August 2020

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