How COVID-19 is affecting business at IRCC

Temporary foreign workers, some international students and approved permanent residents who haven’t yet landed are now able to enter Canada.

The travel restriction exemptions that were announced are now in place. If you’re exempt, you can now travel to Canada.

If you’re travelling by air, you need to pass a health check before you’re allowed to board your flight. Anyone who shows symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter Canada by air.

When you arrive in Canada we’ll assess your health before you leave the port of entry. You must isolate for 14 days even if you have no symptoms. This is mandatory.

Only people who provide essential services and truck drivers who regularly cross the border to maintain the flow of goods are exempt from the isolation requirements.

IRCC, along with other government departments and international allies, continues to closely monitor COVID 19 and any impacts on people and our operations.

Last updated: March 26, 2020

Implications of travel restrictions on IRCC clients

On March 16, 2020, the Prime Minister announced travel restriction measures that will restrict air travel to Canadians, permanent residents and families of Canadians to protect Canada from the outbreak of COVID-19. While these restrictions seek to stop non-essential travel, there are exceptions to ensure essential travel is permitted. The following text addresses common questions about the travel restrictions and other impacts COVID-19 is having on IRCC’s clients and operations.

Questions and answers

What are the air travel restrictions?

Canada is currently denying boarding to all foreign nationals, unless they are exempt, on flights to Canada coming from all countries.

With some exemptions, only Canadian citizens, permanent residents, as well as some foreign nationals travelling from the United States (US) who have been in the US for at least 14 days and are asymptomatic, will be able to enter Canada by air.

Canada will also deny boarding to any foreign national coming from the US who has resided outside Canada or the US in the last 14 days, unless that foreign national is exempt.

If a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, person registered under Canada’s Indian Act, protected person or exempt person is exhibiting symptoms, they will not be allowed to travel to Canada by air. They will, however, be able to enter Canada at a land border, but must isolate for 14 days.

How does the government define “immediate family member” under these restrictions?

In the Interim Order to Prevent Certain Persons from Boarding Flights to Canada due to COVID-19, immediate family member, in respect of a person, means

  • (a) the spouse or common-law partner of the person
  • (b) a dependent child of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner
  • (c) a dependent child of a dependent child referred to in paragraph (b)
  • (d) the parent or step-parent of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner
  • (e) the guardian or tutor of the person

What are the air travel exemptions?

Temporary foreign workers, some international students and approved permanent residents who haven’t yet landed are now able to enter Canada.

The travel restriction exemptions that were announced are now in place. If you’re exempt, you can now travel to Canada.

If you’re travelling by air, you need to pass a health check before you’re allowed to board your flight. Anyone who shows symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter Canada by air.

When you arrive in Canada we’ll assess your health before you leave the port of entry. You must isolate for 14 days even if you have no symptoms. This is mandatory.

Only people who provide essential services and truck drivers who regularly cross the border to maintain the flow of goods are exempt from the isolation requirements.

On March 20, 2020, the Government of Canada provided an update on travel restrictions put in place to stem the spread of COVID-19. Foreign nationals who have committed to working, studying or making their home in Canada will be permitted to enter Canada by air or land. They will be exempt from the air travel and border restrictions and will be allowed to enter Canada.

Temporary foreign workers, as well as international students who have a valid study permit or who were approved for a study permit before March 18, 2020, and foreign nationals who were approved for permanent residence before March 18, 2020, but who hadn’t yet travelled to Canada, will be exempt from these restrictions.

Other exemptions under the Interim Order to Prevent Certain Persons from Boarding Flights to Canada due to COVID-19 include,

  • people registered under Canada’s Indian Act
  • protected persons
  • foreign nationals travelling at the invitation of the Canadian government for a purpose related to the containment of COVID-19
  • immediate family members of Canadian citizens
  • immediate family members of Canadian permanent residents
  • a person who is authorized, in writing, by a consular officer of the Government of Canada to enter Canada for the purpose of reuniting immediate family members
  • transiting passengers

What are the land travel restrictions?

As of midnight on March 20, 2020, Canada and the US have agreed to temporarily restrict all non-essential travel across the Canada–US border.

This collaborative and reciprocal measure between Canada and the US will restrict non-essential travel across the border, including for tourism and recreation. Canadian and American citizens and permanent residents who are currently visiting each other’s country can still return home.

What are the land travel exemptions?

Temporary foreign workers, some international students and approved permanent residents who haven’t yet landed are now able to enter Canada.

The travel restriction exemptions that were announced are now in place. If you’re exempt, you can now travel to Canada.

If you’re travelling by air, you need to pass a health check before you’re allowed to board your flight. Anyone who shows symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter Canada by air.

When you arrive in Canada we’ll assess your health before you leave the port of entry. You must isolate for 14 days even if you have no symptoms. This is mandatory.

Only people who provide essential services and truck drivers who regularly cross the border to maintain the flow of goods are exempt from the isolation requirements.

All essential and business travel will continue unimpeded. Both governments recognize the importance of preserving vital supply chains between our two countries to ensure that food, fuel and life-saving medicines continue to reach people on both sides of the border.

Diplomats, American travellers arriving in Canada in transit to a third country, and travellers with family-care, educational or compassionate reasons will continue to be allowed to cross. Supply chains, including trucking, will not be impacted by these new measures.

Will I be allowed to re-enter Canada if I am a permanent resident?

Asymptomatic landed permanent residents will be allowed to re-enter Canada. If a permanent resident is exhibiting symptoms, they will not be allowed to travel to Canada by air, but they will be able to re-enter Canada at a land border and must isolate for 14 days. The same applies to Canadian citizens, people registered under the Indian Act and protected persons.

Will I be able to remain in Canada if I am already in the country legally?

Yes.

Can a foreign national with a valid visa or electronic travel authorization (eTA) but no study or work permit come to Canada?

While some exemptions apply, most foreign nationals who hold a valid visa or eTA are not able to travel to Canada by air at this time.

I have been approved for permanent residence but haven’t landed; can I still come?

Temporary foreign workers, some international students and approved permanent residents who haven’t yet landed are now able to enter Canada.

The travel restriction exemptions that were announced are now in place. If you’re exempt, you can now travel to Canada.

If you’re travelling by air, you need to pass a health check before you’re allowed to board your flight. Anyone who shows symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter Canada by air.

When you arrive in Canada we’ll assess your health before you leave the port of entry. You must isolate for 14 days even if you have no symptoms. This is mandatory.

Only people who provide essential services and truck drivers who regularly cross the border to maintain the flow of goods are exempt from the isolation requirements.

As announced on March 20, 2020, foreign nationals who were approved for permanent residence before the travel restrictions were announced on March 18, 2020, but had not landed yet, will be able to come to Canada.

Are you continuing to process and accept applications?

As announced, there are travel restrictions in place. We are continuing to accept and process applications at this time, although foreign nationals, unless exempt, will have their travel restricted until these measures have been lifted.

What is the impact on your processing times?

While we continue to serve our clients, service disruptions and restrictions due to COVID-19 may have an impact on processing times, and the current posted processing times may not be accurate.

What happens to people trying to apply for temporary or permanent status in Canada?

As announced, there are travel restrictions in place. However, no application in progress will be closed or refused due to a lack of documentation or inability to complete the application process in time, such as giving biometrics or completing an immigration medical exam, when travel reopens.

What should foreign nationals who are in Canada with valid temporary status as a visitor, worker or student do if their status is about to expire?

Temporary residents who are currently in Canada are able to apply to extend their status online if they need to extend their status. A temporary resident who has applied to extend their status is allowed to remain in Canada until a decision is made on their new application, even if their initial status expires while they are waiting for that decision. This is called implied status.

They should not travel to a port of entry (POE) to apply directly to a border services officer. Travelling to a POE from inside Canada for the purpose of getting immigration services is not considered essential travel, and they will not receive these services.

What is the impact on temporary foreign workers?

Temporary foreign workers, some international students and approved permanent residents who haven’t yet landed are now able to enter Canada.

The travel restriction exemptions that were announced are now in place. If you’re exempt, you can now travel to Canada.

If you’re travelling by air, you need to pass a health check before you’re allowed to board your flight. Anyone who shows symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter Canada by air.

When you arrive in Canada we’ll assess your health before you leave the port of entry. You must isolate for 14 days even if you have no symptoms. This is mandatory.

Only people who provide essential services and truck drivers who regularly cross the border to maintain the flow of goods are exempt from the isolation requirements.

As announced on March 20, 2020, all temporary foreign workers will be able to travel to Canada by air or land. They will be exempt from the air travel restrictions announced on March 16, 2020, as well as border restrictions. Those affected by these exemptions should not try to travel to Canada immediately.

Like all travellers, including Canadian citizens and permanent residents, temporary foreign workers who enter Canada by air or land will undergo the necessary health checks and must isolate for 14 days upon arrival in Canada.

In addition, a temporary modification is being made to the Labour Market Impact Assessment process for agriculture and food-processing employers, as the required 2-week recruitment period will be waived for the next 6 months. We are also increasing the maximum allowable employment duration for workers in the low-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program from 1 to 2 years. This will improve flexibility and reduce the administrative burden for employers, including those in food processing.

What is the impact of the restrictions on international students?

Temporary foreign workers, some international students and approved permanent residents who haven’t yet landed are now able to enter Canada.

The travel restriction exemptions that were announced are now in place. If you’re exempt, you can now travel to Canada.

If you’re travelling by air, you need to pass a health check before you’re allowed to board your flight. Anyone who shows symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter Canada by air.

When you arrive in Canada we’ll assess your health before you leave the port of entry. You must isolate for 14 days even if you have no symptoms. This is mandatory.

Only people who provide essential services and truck drivers who regularly cross the border to maintain the flow of goods are exempt from the isolation requirements.

As announced on March 20, 2020, international students who held a valid study permit or had been approved for a study permit when the travel restrictions took effect on March 18, 2020, will be able travel to Canada by air or land. They will be exempt from air travel and border restrictions. This exemption is to accommodate students who are in the middle of their course of study or who have just been approved to study in Canada but were outside Canada when the travel restrictions took effect.

Like all travellers, including Canadian citizens and permanent residents, international students who are exempt from air travel restrictions will undergo the necessary health checks and must isolate for 14 days upon arrival in Canada.

What about international students who are concerned about restrictions on distance learning to be able to apply for a post-graduation work permit?

Courses of study being delivered online on an exceptional basis due to COVID 19 will not affect Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program eligibility.

When will the exemptions be in place? Should people being exempt rush to Canada immediately?

Temporary foreign workers, some international students and approved permanent residents who haven’t yet landed are now able to enter Canada.

The travel restriction exemptions that were announced are now in place. If you’re exempt, you can now travel to Canada.

If you’re travelling by air, you need to pass a health check before you’re allowed to board your flight. Anyone who shows symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter Canada by air.

When you arrive in Canada we’ll assess your health before you leave the port of entry. You must isolate for 14 days even if you have no symptoms. This is mandatory.

Only people who provide essential services and truck drivers who regularly cross the border to maintain the flow of goods are exempt from the isolation requirements.

With travel restrictions in place in many countries around the world and international air travel reduced during the COVID-19 outbreak, we don’t recommend that those who are exempt from travel restrictions immediately try to travel to Canada.

What is the impact on refugees and asylum claimants?

On March 17, 2020, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) announced that they, along with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), are temporarily suspending resettlement travel for refugees.

Canada relies on referrals from the UNHCR, other designated referral organizations and private sponsorship groups to identify refugees in need of resettlement.

The IOM and the UNHCR will make alternative arrangements for those refugees currently in transit and who are no longer able to continue their journey to Canada at this time.

We continue to accept asylum claimants in Canada, consistent with our international human rights obligations.

On March 20, 2020, Canada and the US also announced collaborative and reciprocal measures where we will now be returning irregular migrants who attempt to cross anywhere at the Canada–US border, including those who attempt to make an asylum claim at a land POE.

What about our domestic IRCC operations?

Domestic IRCC operations are reduced to critical services. We have cancelled all citizenship ceremonies, tests and retests, as well as all in-person permanent resident landing appointments and refugee claimant appointments. We are looking into alternative means to provide permanent resident landing services, including possibly by telephone. Clients will be contacted directly to reschedule their appointment.

We are also suspending non-essential settlement services and biometrics collection services at 58 Service Canada locations.

Are you suspending immigration loan payments for refugees?

IRCC has decided to suspend its immigrant loan collection activities for a period of 6 months, until September 2020. Clients who have questions about their loan, or who wish to make alternative arrangements for payments during this period, can contact IRCC at 1-800-667-7301.

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