AGRI - Travel Restrictions and Exemptions - May 22, 2020
To protect Canadians from the outbreak of COVID-19, the Prime Minister took swift and necessary measures to restrict travel to Canada. All optional or discretionary travel to Canada continues to be prohibited for foreign nationals, even if the traveller holds a valid visitor visa or electronic travel authorization. By optional or discretionary, I’m referring to travel for purposes such as tourism, recreation or entertainment.
While the Government of Canada has implemented travel restrictions, it is committed to ensuring that certain priority groups are able to enter the country. Key exemptions for travel from abroad have supported the Canadian economy and ensure that vulnerable people, such as minors, are not stranded abroad.
Temporary foreign workers are vital to the success of Canadian food producers and the food safety and security of Canadians. My Department is prioritizing work permits to facilitate agricultural workers, agri-food workers, truck drivers and health care workers.
Immigration continues to be a priority for this Government as it is key to this country’s future as we work to recover from COVID-19. However, any lessening of travel restrictions must be balanced, and done in a phased manner, to ensure that the health and safety of Canadians is protected.
Two Orders in Council under the Quarantine Act currently set out the parameters of the travel restrictions.
Both Orders in Council (#7 and #12) recognize that permanent residents, registered Indians and protected persons are entitled to enter Canada and are therefore exempt from the travel restrictions.
Order in Council 12 – expected to replace Order in Council 11 on May 22, 2020 and be in force until June 21, 2020 – prohibits all foreign nationals coming from the United States to enter Canada if it is for a discretionary or optional purpose, such as tourism, recreation or entertainment.
Order in Council 7, which is in force until June 30, 2020, prohibits all foreign nationals coming from countries other than the United States from entry if they do not meet one of the listed exceptions and/or are traveling for a discretionary or optional purpose.
Key exceptions of this Order in Council include:
holders of a work permit or a study permit;
clients who have received a written notice of approval for a work permit;
clients approved for a study permit before March 18, 2020;
clients whose application for permanent residence was approved prior to March 18, 2020;
an immediate family member of a Canadian citizen or of a permanent resident; and
persons whose presence, in the opinion of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration or the Minister of Public Safety, is in the national interest.
IRCC is also authorized pursuant to the Order in Council to issue written authorizations to foreign nationals seeking to enter for the purpose of reuniting with immediate family members.
Transport Canada also issued interim orders under the Aeronautics Act, which prohibit boarding for those coming from countries other than the United States who do not meet the exemptions of Order in Council 7.
It further requires air carriers to notify passengers traveling from the United States of the travel restrictions under Order in Council 12, and for passengers to confirm that they meet the requirements.
The interim orders also require air carriers to deny boarding to any symptomatic passengers (including Canadian citizens and permanent residents).
Aviation passengers on all flights (private operator or air carrier) will be required to demonstrate they have the necessary non-medical mask or face covering during the boarding process, otherwise they will not be allowed to continue on their journey.
Passengers must wear the face mask at all times during the flight when they are 2 metres or less from another person, unless both persons are occupants of the same dwelling-house or place that serves this purpose.
Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada have also issued interim orders under the Quarantine Act requiring mandatory self-isolation for 14 days of all persons entering Canada, subject to exemptions for persons who need to perform essential functions. Travellers need to confirm that they have a suitable place to isolate or quarantine, where they will have access to basic necessities, such as food and medication.
IRCC has taken special measures to support these travel restrictions, while ensuring the facilitation of those pivotal to supporting the Canadian economy. Of note:
Visitor Processing (visitor visas and electronic travel authorizations):
Ministerial Instructions in place since April 9 have been extended to June 9, 2020. These instructions temporarily suspend the processing of visitor visas and electronic travel authorizations that could not be automatically approved, unless the clients applying were not prohibited from traveling to Canada by the travel restrictions. Given limited processing capacity, these instructions have been put in place to allow IRCC to focus its resources on serving those clients who were still eligible to travel to Canada.
The requirement for temporary residents applicants from outside Canada to apply online continues to be in place, to support the most efficient use of departmental processing capacity, which is likely to remain constrained in the near to medium term.
Facilitative Measures for Temporary Foreign Workers:
For temporary workers already in Canada, IRCC has several existing measures to help clients affected by the disruption in services and travel due to the coronavirus outbreak, including work permit extensions and the use of “implied status,” which allows workers to remain in Canada legally while awaiting a decision on their application.
IRCC is prioritizing applications from temporary workers applying to work in the agricultural, agri-food and health care sectors. For workers overseas, biometrics requirements are being waived where enrollment is not possible due to travel restrictions or visa application centre closures. However, where possible, biometrics will be collected from these workers on arrival at the port of entry.
As of May 12, 2020, IRCC has established a process that will allow temporary workers who are in Canada with an employer-specific work permit to quickly change employers when they find a new job.
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