Work permit: COVID-19 program delivery
This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.
To respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has issued a series of Orders in Council. The following 3 Orders in Council have a direct impact on foreign workers:
- Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Prohibition of Entry into Canada from any Country other than the United States)
- Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Prohibition of Entry into Canada from the United States)
- Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Mandatory Isolation) scretionary or optional.
For more information and updates on the Orders, visit the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website, which includes a list of COVID-19 Emergency Orders in Council in effect.
All travellers, including temporary workers, will have to undergo health checks and must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Canada unless otherwise exempted under the Mandatory Isolation Order. Travellers are expected to have plans in place for where they will stay and who will provide them with groceries, medication, and so on for the 14 days.
Note: Under COVID-19 restrictions, there are different assessments made of people travelling to Canada. For example, they are assessed against the travel restrictions before they are allowed to board the aircraft, and they are assessed for whether their purpose of travel is non-discretionary at the port of entry. Travellers are also required to meet the mandatory isolation requirements.
Foreign nationals entering from countries other than the United States will not be able to apply for a work permit at the POE pursuant to subsection 198(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), since they are required to present proof to the air carrier that they have either a valid work permit or a letter of introduction, unless they are exempt from the travel restrictions under a different category such as being an immediate family member of a Canadian citizen.
Certain foreign nationals entering from the United States may be allowed to apply for a work permit upon entry [R198(1)] if they meet the requirements under the Order in Council on Prohibition of Entry into Canada from the United States. See Border restrictions for updates.
Provinces and territories may have additional travel restrictions; applicants must verify with their employer or provincial or territorial authority before making travel arrangements.
For applicants who are outside Canada, a daily report is being pulled for all approved applications and a push notification letter is being sent by the Client Experience Branch advising applicants of the required documentation to present to the air carrier and the 14-day quarantine instructions.
On this page
- Temporary workers who are exempt from travel restrictions
- Work permit-exempt foreign nationals (only temporary resident visa or electronic travel authorization required) seeking to work in essential occupations
- Determining whether entry of temporary workers will be for a discretionary or optional purpose
- Accompanying family members of foreign workers
- International Experience Canada (IEC) work permit applicants who received a letter of introduction and are outside Canada
- Processing of work permits
- Prioritizing work permit processing for essential occupations
- Measures in place for foreign nationals in the film and television industry
- Offers of employment and Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs)
- Agricultural workers under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) and the Agricultural Stream (non-SAWP)
- Public policies
Temporary workers who are exempt from travel restrictions
The following foreign nationals who require a work permit and are currently outside Canada are not subject to Canada’s travel restrictions if travelling to Canada for a non-optional or non-discretionary purpose:
Foreign nationals who hold a valid Canadian work permit for a specific employer or foreign nationals who hold a valid open work permit and whose travel is for a non-discretionary purpose.
Proof of travel restriction exemption: A valid work permit (photocopies should not be accepted). In addition, open work permit holders should carry a recent job offer from their employer to prove that their travel is non-discretionary.
Foreign nationals who received a positive decision from IRCC (documented by a letter of introduction) on a work permit application but whose work permit has not yet been issued. The foreign national’s purpose of travel must not be discretionary or optional. Consult Determining whether entry of temporary workers will be for a discretionary or optional purpose.
Proof of travel restriction exemption: A paper copy or e-version of the letter of introduction.
Work permit-exempt foreign nationals (only temporary resident visa or electronic travel authorization required) seeking to work in essential occupations
There are specific foreign nationals who are work permit exempt who are also exempt from the travel restrictions. These foreign nationals must follow the instructions found in Temporary resident visas (TRVs) or Electronic travel authorization (eTA) when they apply.
Offices should prioritize the processing of the following TRV- or eTA-required but work permit-exempt foreign nationals, identified as essential for health, safety and food security reasons, or to support critical infrastructure, who are not subject to the travel restrictions. They may be exempt from the mandatory 14-day quarantine period if they are described in the Order in Council on Mandatory Isolation:
- providers of emergency services under paragraph R186(t) for the protection or preservation of life or property (includes firefighters and medical service providers)
- Foreign nationals who usually qualify for an LMIA-exempt work permit under LMIA exemption code C13 may enter Canada under the paragraph R186(t) exemption if their work is related to the protection or preservation of life or property related to the COVID-19 response and maintenance of essential infrastructure or services.
- persons permitted to work as a student in a health field under paragraph R186(p), including as a medical elective or clinical clerk at a medical teaching institution in Canada, for the primary purpose of acquiring training, if they have written approval from the body that regulates that field. They must have a valid medical certificate if they are working within the health service field, even if they are work permit exempt.
- workers in the marine transportation sector who are essential for the movement of goods by vessel under paragraph R186(s)
- persons who seek to enter Canada for the purpose of delivering, maintaining, or repairing medically necessary equipment or devices under paragraph R186(a)
- persons who seek to enter Canada for the purpose of making medical deliveries of cells, blood and blood products, tissues, organs or other body parts that are required for patient care in Canada under paragraph R186(t)
- persons determined by the Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) to be providing an essential service while in Canada as indicated below
The CPHO has determined that the following classes of persons are providing an essential service while in Canada and are exempt from the Order on Prohibition of Entry into Canada from any Country other than the United States. In addition, the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for asymptomatic people does not apply to those who meet this exemption criteria.
- Technicians or specialists specified by a government, manufacturer or company as required to install, inspect, maintain or repair equipment necessary to support critical infrastructure (Energy and Utilities, Information and Communication Technologies, Finance, Health, Food, Water, Transportation, Safety, Government and Manufacturing).
Note: As of October 8, 2020, installation is included in the Order on Prohibition of Entry into Canada from any Country other than the United States.
- If they are installing, inspecting, repairing or maintaining equipment as part of an existing warranty or sales agreement, they can be considered as business visitors under paragraph R186(a). They do not have to obtain a letter from the CPHO under subparagraph 3(1)(j)(ii) of the Order or a national interest exemption letter to enter Canada.
- If they are repairing or maintaining equipment outside of a warranty, or installing equipment outside of an after-sales agreement, then they need a work permit.
- If they are supervising installation or providing training on new equipment related to critical infrastructure, they require a national interest exemption letter.
- Persons, including captains, deckhands, observers, inspectors, scientists, veterinarians and any other persons supporting commercial or research open water aquaculture-related activities, who enter Canada for the purpose of carrying out aquaculture-related activities, including fishing, transporting fish to and from the aquaculture facility, treating fish for pests or pathogens, repairs, provisioning of aquaculture-related vessels or aquaculture facilities or exchange of crew, and who proceed directly to an open-water facility or vessel upon entry to Canada.
- If they are working on a foreign-owned vessel, they can be considered as crew under paragraph R186(s). They do not have to obtain a letter from the CPHO under subparagraph 3(1)(j)(ii) of the Order or a national interest exemption letter to enter Canada. In all other situations, they need a work permit.
See List of Acts and Regulations for the latest updates from the Public Health Agency of Canada on the Orders in Council and exemptions. Foreign nationals who are work permit exempt under section R186 but are not specifically exempt from the travel restrictions under the Order in Council are not allowed to travel to Canada at this time from a country other than the United States, unless they hold a national interest exemption letter.
Work permit-exempt foreign nationals must still undergo their immigration medical examination, if required. Immigration medical examination requirements cannot be waived. For information on medical examination requirements, consult Who must submit to an immigration medical exam.
Proof of travel restriction exemption
At the point of boarding, foreign nationals can self-identify to airlines that they are exempt from the travel restriction by presenting alternative documentation to show how they meet the criteria. This should generally include
- for emergency services providers, a letter of invitation from a relevant organization in Canada (federal, provincial or municipal government entity)
- for health care students, a letter of invitation from a relevant teaching institution
- for persons joining vessels, a letter from shipping agents
- for persons who are among the class of persons determined by the CPHO to provide an essential service while in Canada, evidence that they fall under one of the classes stated above that explicitly states they will be installing, inspecting, repairing or maintaining equipment on critical infrastructure
Those who are work permit exempt are required to satisfy the airline that they are exempt from the travel restrictions. Other acceptable documents may include letters of invitation and letters confirming recognition of credentials.
Determining whether entry of temporary workers will be for a discretionary or optional purpose
A foreign national’s entry may be prohibited if it is for an optional or discretionary purpose, even if they are exempt from the travel restrictions.
The emergency orders under the Quarantine Act do not allow people to travel to Canada for optional or discretionary reasons, such as for tourism, recreation or entertainment.
- Before making any travel arrangements, if the foreign national has received a letter of introduction, the foreign national should confirm with their prospective employer that
- the work location or organization is not subject to mandatory closure of non-essential businesses; if the business is closed, workers should not proceed to Canada at this time
- if the business is open, they will be able to start their employment after the 14-day quarantine period
- If temporary workers do not meet the above conditions, they may not be allowed to enter Canada at the POE even if the airline allowed them to board the aircraft.
- Temporary workers (including citizens of the United States and other countries) coming to Canada to work and travelling directly from the United States may be able to apply at the POE for a work permit, so long as they are visa exempt and otherwise eligible to apply at the POE under the IRPR. The employer in this case should still be operating. Otherwise, the temporary workers may be directed back.
The following are scenarios regarding foreign nationals who hold a valid work permit or received a letter of introduction from IRCC on their work permit application and are seeking entry at a Canadian POE.
Non-optional or non-discretionary travel for a temporary worker may include
- A foreign national has a valid work permit and ordinarily resides in Canada. Whether the foreign national’s employment still exists or if they are currently laid off is not determinative in this case. What is determinative is that the foreign national’s primary residence is in Canada (suggesting their travel is not optional).
- A foreign national has a letter of introduction for an open work permit, holds a valid job offer and will be able to work once they enter Canada.
- A foreign national has a letter of introduction for an employer-specific work permit, holds a valid job offer and will be able to work once they enter Canada.
Optional or discretionary travel for a temporary worker may include
- A foreign national has a letter of introduction for an employer-specific work permit, but the business of their prospective employer is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A foreign national has a letter of introduction for an open work permit, has not secured a job contract and is simply planning to search for work opportunities in Canada.
Accompanying family members of foreign workers
Dependants travelling from the United States (U.S.) do not need a family reunification letter (FRL) from IRCC to reunite with an immediate family member who is in Canada temporarily. However, they must provide evidence that the purpose of their travel is non-discretionary, such as to establish themselves with the spouse, common-law partner or family member.
The Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Prohibition of Entry into Canada from any Country other than the United States) (the Order) restricts entry into Canada of foreign nationals arriving from countries other than the United States, with some limited exemptions. Under the Order, travellers must meet all of the following 4 requirements in order to enter Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- They must qualify for an exemption as 1 of the 25 classes of persons in subsection 3(1) of the Order.
- They must be asymptomatic for COVID-19.
- Their travel must not be optional or discretionary.
- They must be able to comply with the requirement to quarantine unless they are exempted based on their purpose of travel and intended length of stay.
Exemptions for family members
The Order exempts immediate family members of Canadians, permanent residents, and persons registered as an Indian under the Indian Act from the travel restrictions, but it does not explicitly exempt spouses or common-law partners and dependent children of foreign workers from the travel restrictions. Therefore, in order to enter Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic, family members of foreign workers (spouses, common-law partners and dependent children) must meet both of the following criteria:
- be specifically exempt from the travel restrictions under the Order in their own right (for example, hold a work permit as per paragraph 3(1)(l) of the Order or work permit approval letter as per paragraph 3(1)(m) of the Order). If they are not otherwise exempt, they need to obtain a written authorization—an FRL—to enter Canada under the following exemption of the Order:
- 3(1)(b) a person who is authorized, in writing, by an officer designated under subsection 6(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to enter Canada for the purpose of reuniting immediate family members;
- be entering for a non-discretionary reason. There are separate program delivery instructions that explain what constitutes non-discretionary travel for holders of work permits and work permit approval letters. For those seeking to qualify under the family reunification exemption, the non-discretionary reason will be examined by an IRCC officer when they assess if an FRL can be issued, by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers at boarding, if available, and by border services officers upon entry at the port of entry (POE).
When assessing whether a foreign national is eligible for an FRL, IRCC officers should assess whether the purpose of travel to Canada is non-discretionary, in order to avoid cases of foreign nationals being issued an FRL from IRCC only to be turned away at the POE because border services officers find their travel to be non-discretionary.
For family members of temporary residents, non-discretionary travel generally means that they are seeking to reunite with their family member in Canada, and that their length of stay carries some sort of permanency (for example, their spouse is here for 1 year and they are entering to resettle with them for that period).
Foreign nationals seeking to enter under the family reunification provisions must be entering for the purposes of reuniting with family. If they are seeking to enter for work or to study, there are separate provisions covering that.
- If the purpose of travel is for the foreign national to work, then they must meet the requirements of the Foreign Worker Programs and have a non-optional travel purpose.
- If the purpose of travel is for family reunification, then their work permit status in Canada is irrelevant; instead, what is important is their relationship to the temporary resident in Canada or the accompanying principal applicant (are they immediate family?) and whether their purpose of travel is non-discretionary (for example, are they coming to establish residence or for a short visit?).
Note: IRCC officers must not issue an FRL when dependants indicate they are travelling to visit primary foreign workers for more than 15 days. The 15-day rule only applies to immediate family members or extended family members of Canadian citizens, permanent residents or persons registered as Indians under the Indian Act. When an FRL is issued, the non-discretionary test applies and travellers would only be allowed to travel if they are coming to establish themselves in Canada with the work permit holder; visits are not allowed.
For additional guidance on interpreting non-optional and non-discretionary travel and processing requests from immediate family members, please consult:
- Non-optional and non-discretionary travel: COVID-19 program delivery
- How to request a family reunification letter
Information on how to request an FRL is available on the IRCC website:
Note: Normally an immediate family member of a foreign national travelling to Canada from any country other than the U.S. should be in possession of an FRL and not a national interest exemption letter. If the immediate family member is in possession of a national interest exemption letter, an FRL is not required
When officers process applications for dependants, all family members should be processed together at the same time and in the same group for efficiency and for client service reasons. Immediate family members, whether they are accompanied by the principal applicant during travel or they are travelling to join the principal applicant in Canada, can be considered on a case-by-case basis under the family reunification exemption, paragraph 3(1)(b) of the Order.
- If a dependant of a foreign worker is already exempt under a separate provision of the Order, there is no need for the officer to assess the need for an FRL. For example, a foreign worker who received a letter of introduction (LOI) and has an active job offer and is seeking to reunite with their immediate family member does not require an FRL from IRCC. They are already exempt under the Order as an LOI holder and already meet the non-discretionary travel test as they have an active job offer from an employer that is currently operating.
- If a spouse or common-law partner of a foreign worker is seeking entry to Canada for the purpose of reuniting with them, they must also qualify for an exemption under the Order. What is important is whether they really are a spouse of the temporary resident in Canada. In addition, the officer should consider whether their purpose of travel is non-discretionary (meaning they are establishing themselves for the duration of their spouse’s permit in Canada) so that the foreign national will not be refused entry to Canada for failing the non-discretionary test at the POE.
- If a family member’s purpose of travel to Canada is to work, only then does their work permit situation become relevant. If they received an LOI for an open work permit, are accompanying or joining the principal applicant, and plan to establish themselves in Canada, they do not need proof that a job offer is lined up for them after the 14-day quarantine period. The LOI allows them to meet an exemption under subsection 3(1) of the Order, and establishing themselves with their spouse enables them to pass the non-discretionary test.
IRCC officers are required to enter detailed notes in GCMS as to the reasons for authorization in all cases.
Dependent children of travel restriction-exempt foreign workers who are travelling from a country other than the U.S. and who do not meet any exemptions under the Order require an FRL from IRCC in order to travel to Canada.
- a detailed reason for travel
- proof of relationship to the immediate family member in Canada
- who they are accompanying to Canada
- proof of immigration status of their immediate family member (the foreign worker and principal applicant)
Refer to documentation requirements provided in How to unite with immediate family members who are in Canada temporarily.
Prior to making any travel arrangements, dependants of travel restriction-exempt foreign workers can assess themselves to see if they are subject to travel restrictions and if their travel is discretionary by responding to the following questions:
- Are they asymptomatic? If the answer is “No,” they aren’t exempt under the current Order.
- Are they are eligible for an exemption under the Order? Do they have an FRL from IRCC?
- If they don’t fit under any of the exemptions under the Order and don’t have an FRL from IRCC, do they need one?
- If they fit under one of the exemptions, including having an FRL, is the purpose of their travel non-discretionary or non-optional? If the answer is “No,” they aren’t exempt under the current Order.
Border services officers will use a similar set of questions to assess if the dependants of travel restriction-exempt foreign workers will be authorized to enter Canada. The dependants still need to meet the requirements under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations to be admissible to Canada.
Even if dependants are issued an FRL, border services officers will still apply the non-discretionary purpose of travel test. Border services officers must be satisfied that the foreign national’s travel is not optional or discretionary.
International Experience Canada (IEC) work permit applicants who received a letter of introduction and are outside Canada
Effective May 8, 2020, and until further notice, the only International Experience Canada (IEC) candidates who border services officers should allow to enter Canada are those who received a letter of introduction and have an offer of employment with an employer who is still operating during the COVID-19 pandemic (because they are allowed to do so under provincial restrictions).
The applicant must still meet all admissibility requirements under the immigration legislation. This would apply to foreign youth in the 3 IEC categories:
- Working Holiday
- Young Professionals
- International Co-op (Internship)
Processing of work permits
Note: Work permit applicants eligible for the Urgent referrals process for work permits should continue to be processed on a priority basis, where operationally feasible.
Foreign nationals outside of Canada must submit work permit applications electronically in accordance with the Ministerial Instructions.
The exemption from the travel restrictions for workers travelling from a country other than the United States only applies to work permit holders and those approved for a work permit in advance of arrival. Since foreign nationals need a work permit or approval to board an aircraft, those who are normally allowed to apply at the port of entry as per subsection R198(1) cannot do so as their travel to Canada is restricted. If the foreign national is exempt from the travel restrictions based on another exemption (for example, accompanying a Canadian citizen family member) or travelling directly from the United States, they may still apply at the POE as long as their travel is considered non-discretionary.
Foreign nationals can also continue to submit applications to extend or to change conditions on their work permits from within Canada.
Certain in-Canada applicants may still apply using paper applications if they meet one of the exemptions from the mandatory e-application requirement. They must clearly write “COVID-19” on the envelope.
Requests for additional information on open applications
Until further notice, processing offices in Canada and abroad should request additional documents, including police certificates, biometric enrolments (refer to Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Biometrics for up-to-date information), passports and medical examinations. Offices should allow extra time for response as follows:
- When additional documentation is required to make a decision on the application, processing officers should send a request letter and allow 90 days for the applicant to respond.
- If a request for additional documentation was previously sent but the applicant was unable to comply within the deadline, processing officers should bring forward the application and allow an additional 90 days for the applicant to respond. Officers do not need to send another request letter.
- Until further notice, applicants will not be refused for non-compliance.
Note: The 90-day allowance does not apply to LMIA-exempt work permit applications missing the offer of employment number. The offer of employment is a regulatory requirement under subsection R209.11(1) and must be provided by the employer through the Employer Portal before a work permit application can be submitted.
For work permit extension applications where the LMIA or Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) (if applicable) is missing, clients may be eligible for concurrent processing and have 90 days, instead of 60, to provide the document if their current work permit expires within 2 weeks of the receipt date of the work permit extension application. Clients must include a copy of a valid job offer (employment contract) and proof that the LMIA or CAQ (if applicable) application was made, such as a copy of the application sent to Employment and Social Development Canada or the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration or a copy of the confirmation of receipt if the application was made online.
Prioritizing work permit processing for essential occupations
Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) will prioritize the processing of Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs) for the following National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes related to agricultural, agri-food and truck driving occupations. Where operationally possible, offices are encouraged to prioritize work permit applications for these NOCs, in addition to health-related occupations, as these occupations have been identified as essential and critical for Canada.
A daily report is being pulled by the Operations Planning and Performance Branch (OPPB) and distributed to the International and Centralized Networks to ensure the following NOC codes related to work permit applications are prioritized.
- NOC 6331 – Butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers – retail and wholesale
- NOC 7511 – Transport truck drivers
- NOC 8252 – Agricultural service contractors, farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
- NOC 8431 – General farm workers
- NOC 8432 – Nursery and greenhouse workers
- NOC 8611 – Harvesting labourers
- NOC 9463 – Fish and seafood plant workers
- NOC 9617 – Labourers in food, beverage and associated products processing
- NOC 9618 – Labourers in fish and seafood processing
- NOC 9462 – Industrial butchers and meat cutters, poultry preparers and related workers
OPPB will also pull a list of the following NOC codes for health-related work permit applications to ensure they are prioritized:
- NOC 3011 – Nursing co-ordinators and supervisors
- NOC 3012 – Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses
- NOC 3111 – Specialist physicians
- NOC 3112 – General practitioners and family physicians
- NOC 3124 – Allied primary health practitioners
- NOC 3125 – Other professional occupations in health diagnosing and treating
- NOC 3131 – Pharmacists
- NOC 3211 – Medical laboratory technologists
- NOC 3212 – Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists’ assistants
- NOC 3214 – Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists
- NOC 3215 – Medical radiation technologists
- NOC 3217 – Cardiology technologists and electrophysiological diagnostic technologists, n.e.c.
- NOC 3233 – Licensed practical nurses
- NOC 3234 – Paramedical occupations
- NOC 3413 – Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates
- NOC 4411 – Home child care providers (LMIA-required in-Canada applicants)
- NOC 4412 – Home support workers, excluding housekeepers (LMIA-required in-Canada applicants)
Note: While applications in certain sectors are being prioritized based on NOC codes, this does not preclude an officer from prioritizing a case (should all processing requirements be met and operational capacity allow) where there is a demonstrated urgent need for the worker in Canada.
Measures in place for foreign nationals in the film and television industry
Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, IRCC remains committed to facilitating travel and maintaining high standards of client service while protecting the health and safety of Canadians. As part of this commitment, workers in the film and television industry entering Canada from outside the United States, or those entering from the United States who require a temporary resident visa (TRV), are eligible for priority processing. Where operationally possible, offices are encouraged to prioritize these work permit applications for eligible applicants within the 14-day priority service standard that has been established.
To be eligible for priority processing, foreign nationals must
- submit a complete initial work permit application online to work within the film and television industry (LMIA exemption code C14),
- apply from outside Canada and the United States, or apply from the United States and require a TRV, and
- self-identify as a film and television industry worker after submitting their work permit application by sending a request via the IRCC Web form.
The following foreign nationals in the film and television industry are not eligible for priority processing under this facilitation measure:
- foreign nationals who are work permit exempt under section R186
- TRV-exempt foreign nationals applying from the United States. These applicants are able to apply for a work permit at the port of entry as per section R198 and do not require further facilitation.
Foreign nationals are instructed to write the following (along with any other pertinent information) in the “Your enquiry” section of their web form request in order for the Client Experience Branch to identify requests and distribute them to the appropriate office for priority processing:
“filmTV2020: Requesting priority processing for Film & TV Industry workers due to COVID-19.”
Identifying requests that are eligible for priority processing may require an estimated 5 days to complete. As such, expedited processing timelines will only begin once the applicant has received confirmation that their application has been identified for priority processing. Officers should send eligibility confirmation to applicants using the Film & TV Priority Processing Eligibility Letter. Officers should inform clients if they are not eligible for priority processing using the Film & TV Priority Processing Non-Eligibility Letter. If biometrics are not submitted, then the application is not eligible for priority processing and should be returned to the regular processing queue.
Offers of employment and LMIAs
Given the current exceptional circumstances, there may be an increase in the suspension of LMIAs and the withdrawal of offers of employment in the employer portal. Officers are reminded to verify that the offer has not been withdrawn and that the LMIA has not been suspended before finalizing the work permit application. For more details, consult:
- Employer-specific work permits with LMIA exemptions
- LMIA validity and suspension, and duration of employment
For LMIA-required work permit applications, officers are reminded to review the ESDC Comments field in the LMIA under the Employment Details tab to make sure that there has been no change to the name of the foreign national in the LMIA for which the officer is assessing the application.
Workers such as truck drivers are expected to arrive in Canada and be able to perform the job. Most training facilities are likely not in operation at the moment. In addition, ESDC will issue LMIAs with a 9-month validity as opposed to 6 months to provide more flexibility.
LMIAs issued to applicants destined to Alberta
In 2017, in response to the economic downturn in Alberta, ESDC and the Alberta Ministry of Labour implemented measures to help connect Albertans with employers and jobs and maximize the use of the local labour force. These measures included the creation of a new Employer Liaison Service (ELS) Pilot to assist employers in finding available workers, as well as the implementation of a refusal to process (RTP) employers’ LMIA applications for certain high-wage occupations where there are enough Albertans with the skills to fill these positions.
As the labour market tightened under the COVID-19 pandemic and at Alberta’s request, ESDC has
- extended the ELS Pilot until April 30, 2021
- approved a refusal to process LMIAs for most occupations in the province, with certain exceptions
On October 26, 2020, the Government of Alberta announced the changes to the Pilot, which were implemented on November 1, 2020.
New expanded RTP list as of November 1, 2020
- RTP all LMIAs except for 27 occupations
- all employers subject to RTP will be referred to Alberta ELS
- ESDC will refund LMIA fees for all employers whose new LMIA application (still under assessment) falls under the expanded RTP list
Exemptions to the RTP
- LMIA applications for short-term duration technical work (job duration of 30 days or less for a specialist with proprietary knowledge conducting work that entails installation, inspection or repair of equipment under warranty)
- LMIA applications for permanent residence or under dual intent
- LMIA applications under the Global Talent Stream
Consult Refusal to process a Labour Market Impact Assessment application for additional information.
Applicants whose work permit application was submitted with proof that an LMIA was requested to work in Alberta in an occupation that is not part of the 27 exempted occupations or the 3 exemptions to the RTP can no longer benefit from concurrent processing. As a result, their work permit application will be refused.
Agricultural workers under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) and the Agricultural Stream (non-SAWP)
Specific instructions have been developed for agricultural workers given their importance to Canadian food security. The following guidance has been drafted to facilitate the processing of agriculture-related work permit applications as well as the workers’ arrival in Canada.
Existing and new applications
Given that some migration offices abroad may be affected by closures during the pandemic, the Rapid Response Operations Centre (RROC) will provide support for the processing of online applications. All new applications will be processed in cooperation with the responsible migration office. Standard operating procedures have been established between each migration office and the RROC, taking into consideration office- and caseload-specific factors.
Once admitted to Canada, workers must quarantine for 14 days before they start working. For more details, see ESDC’s page:
Applicants under the agricultural stream who travelled with a counterfoil letter may apply for a temporary resident visa once they are in Canada if they intend to leave the country and re-enter, since the counterfoil letter is issued for a single entry only
Immigration medical examinations
Follow regular guidance on who must submit to an immigration medical exam.
For applicants who have already done their medical examination, an extension may be granted. Identified applications with an original M1 or M3 decision will be proactively reassessed for an additional 6 months if from a designated country. Officers must send their requests to IRCC.MHBOttawaReassessments-ReevaluationsOttawaDGMS.IRCC@cic.gc.ca. In order to ensure the request is prioritized, put “SAWP” in the subject line.
A temporary public policy has been issued on the exemption from certain requirements when a temporary worker is changing employment.
- Public policy on exemptions to work permit conditions when changing employment: COVID-19 program delivery
Out-of-status foreign nationals in Canada
A temporary public policy has been issued exempting certain foreign nationals in Canada from certain requirements when they have fallen out of status.
- Public policy exempting certain out-of-status foreign nationals in Canada from immigration requirements
Visitors applying for a work permit
A temporary public policy has been issued exempting temporary residents with valid status from meeting the requirements to apply in Canada for a work permit.
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