Canada – Covid-19 – Immigration update

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Update: November 10th, 2020

New entry requirements announced for travelers

What is the change?

The Canadian government has announced that it will implement new COVID-19 entry protocols beginning later this month.

Key Points:

  • Starting Nov. 21, individuals entering Canada via air, land or water ports of entry will be required to provide a quarantine plan, contact details and travel information through the ArriveCAN app. Individuals who travel by air must submit the information before boarding their flight to Canada.
  • Border officers will ask to see an ArriveCAN receipt when entering Canada.
  • Within 48 hours of entering Canada, travelers must provide confirmation of arrival to their place of quarantine via the app or by calling the toll-free number 1-833-641-0343. Travelers in quarantine must complete a COVID-19 symptom self-assessment every day throughout their entire quarantine.
  • Travelers who use the telephone option will not be able to use the ArriveCAN app option later.
  • Only travelers exempted under the Mandatory Isolation Order do not need to meet these requirements.
  • Travelers who forego this requirement should expect follow-up by law enforcement.

The ArriveCAN app was introduced in April 2020 to facilitate COVID-19 information and entry requirements to travelers.

Although submitting this information is not required until Nov. 21, the government is encouraging travelers to start using the ArriveCAN app immediately to speed up entry wait times. Please also note that ArriveCAN does not track or monitor traveler movements.

The response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, and Deloitte will provide additional updates as information becomes available.

Update: October 21th, 2020

COVID-19: Permanent resident applications delayed because of pandemic

What is the change?

The Canadian government continues to accept and process permanent residence applications but says its ability to process applications is being hampered by COVID-19. Delays should be expected.

Key Points:

  • The government says it is unable to process applications normally or provide estimate processing times due to COVID-19.
  • Immigration officials are prioritizing applications from Canadians and permanent residents returning to the country, vulnerable groups and those providing or supporting essential services workers.
  • Applications in progress will not be closed or refused if the applicant is unable to provide missing documents because of COVID-19.
  • Individuals residing outside of Canada who have received Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) but have not yet landed in Canada are not eligible to land unless they are exempt from current travel restrictions, coming to Canada to settle permanently and are able to quarantine for 14 days after arrival.
  • In-person permanent resident landing appointments in Canada are canceled until further notice because of COVID-19. IRCC will provide further instructions to affected individuals.
  • If the COPR and permanent resident visa expire before the individual is able to travel to Canada, the individual should notify IRCC of their date to move to Canada permanently using the Web Form. IRCC will provide further instructions at that point.

Travel to Canada is restricted at this time. Only travelers who are considered essential or have exemptions will be granted entry.

The response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, and more information will be provided as it becomes available.

Update: October 20th, 2020

COVID-19: Some foreign nationals may qualify for limited exemptions from quarantine

What is the change?

Foreign nationals traveling to Canada may now ask for partial exemption from mandatory quarantine requirements for compassionate reasons.

Key Points:

  • A limited release from quarantine may be granted for the following compassionate reasons.
    • A need to be with a loved one for the final moments of life.
    • An individual providing care for a person who requires medical support or is critically ill.
    • An individual wishes to attend a funeral or end-of-life ceremony.
  • Foreign nationals wanting a compassionate exemption must fill out an application, and provide documentation such as a burial permit, a death certificate, a Letter of Required Support or a medical certificate of death.
  • If approved, the limited release from quarantine will give the foreign national permission to visit hospitals, funeral homes or a care facility. However, the individual must obtain permission from the location they will be visiting by completing a Site Visit Authorization application.
  • Additionally, the individual must obtain a quarantine exemption from the specific province they will visit. It is important to note that not all provinces allow quarantine exemptions, even if the federal government has approved it: https://travel.gc.ca/covid-19-provinces-territories.

All travelers entering Canada must quarantine for 14 days, except those with limited exemptions.

The response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, and more information will be provided as it becomes available.

Update: October 16th, 2020

COVID-19: Government allows for reunification with extended family members, unmarried partners

What is the change?

  • Foreign nationals trying to reunite with an immediate family member in Canada do not need written authorization from the government. They must meet all traveling requirements, including a 14-day quarantine requirement once they arrive in Canada. Immediate family members are defined as spouse or common-law partner, dependent children of the person or the person’s spouse or common-law partner, any dependent children of a dependent child, parents or step-parents, parents or step-parents of the spouse or common-law partner, guardians or tutors.
  • They must present one document showing their immediate family member’s status as a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. They must show a second document proving their relationship to that family member, such as a marriage certificate, proof of common-law status, a birth certificate, or Confirmation of Permanent Residence.
  • Foreign nationals who are in an exclusive dating relationship with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident must have dated them for at least one year and have spent time in their physical presence in order to be eligible for travel to Canada with their dependent children.
  • Siblings and half-siblings of Canadian citizens and permanent residents are also eligible to reunite with their family members under the extended family member category.
  • The following requirements apply to foreign nationals seeking to reunite with a dating partner or extended family member:
    • The Canadian citizen or permanent resident must fill out the application for authorization and statutory declaration form. The form needs to be signed by the foreign national and returned to the Canadian citizen/resident.
    • The signed form must be authorized as a solemn declaration by a commissioner for oaths, justice of the peace, lawyer or notary public.
    • A copy of the completed form must be submitted by the foreign national to the Canadian government in order to receive written authorization before travel.
    • The foreign national must carry a copy of the application for authorization and statutory declaration and the written authorization when they travel. Travel to Canada must take place within six months of the form being signed by solemn declaration.

Background: Non-essential travel to Canada has been banned since March. Additional guidance for foreign nationals wishing to travel to Canada to be reunited with a Canadian citizen or resident is available here.

Update: August 28th, 2020

COVID-19: Under temporary policy, visitors may apply for work permits without leaving

What is the change?

Canada has implemented a temporary policy that allows certain visitors to apply for an employer-specific work permit without having to leave the country.

Key points:

  • In order to be eligible for a new employer-specific work permit, applicants must:
    • Have a valid visitor status in Canada on the day they apply (visitors include super visa holders, business visitors and those who entered Canada through the Global Skills Strategy work permit exemption);
    • Have been in Canada on Aug. 24 and remained in Canada;
    • Have a job offer;
    • Submit an application no later than March 31, 2021 for an employer-specific work permit that is supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or an LMIA-exempt job offer; and o Meet all other standard admissibility criteria.
  • Applicants who meet these requirements who also had a valid work permit in the last 12 months are allowed to start working for the new employer before their work permit application has been fully approved. Instructions for this process are here.
  • Foreign nationals arriving as visitors after Aug. 24 are not eligible.

The new policy is intended to support employers in Canada seeking workers and help temporary residents find jobs.

Update: June 25th, 2020

Some VACs resuming operation, offering limited services

What is the change?

Canadian Visa Application Centres in some parts of the world have begun resuming services, even as COVID-19 travel restrictions remain in place.

Key Points:

  • More than three dozen VACs have reopened, including VACs in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia; Paris, France; Berlin, Germany; Rome, Italy; Madrid, Spain; Abu Dhabi and Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and a number of locations in China, including Beijing and Shanghai. Up-to-date information on which VACs are open is available here.
  • Services remain limited, even at VACs that have reopened. Applicants are encouraged to visit the relevant VAC’s website to determine which services are available before traveling to a VAC.
  • New safety measures have been put in place at VACs that have reopened. Such measures may include limiting the number of people allowed inside VACs, checking temperature of applicants and staff and use of hand sanitizer, gloves, face masks and face shields.
  •  VACs that remain closed will contact applicants, if necessary, to reschedule appointments that have been cancelled.

Background

While some services have resumed at VACs, applicants should note that COVID-19 travel restrictions remain in place. Currently, most foreign nationals are not allowed to travel to Canada, even if they hold a valid visitor visa or electronic travel authorization (eTA). Only those who fall under an exemption or are coming for an essential purpose are permitted entry. All travelers must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

Although travel restrictions remain in place, some VACs are not offering services, such as biometrics collection, that will help expedite the travel process once restrictions are lifted. Applicants are encouraged to check this website and the website of the VAC they intend to visit to determine which services are available at this time. Canada’s response to COVID-19 continues to develop, and more information will be provided as it becomes available.

Update April 17th, 2020

Current Travel Restrictions and Exemptions

What is the change?

As part of its response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Government of Canada and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) have released additional measures to manage the outbreak of COVID-19 resulting in travel restrictions to Canada.

All travel has been restricted with the exception of the following:

  • Canadian citizens;
  • Canadian permanent residents;
  • Persons registered under Canada’s Indian Act;
  • Protected persons;
  • United States (US) citizens or foreign nationals travelling from the US for an essential reason who have been in the US or Canada for at least 14 days before entering Canada (unless exempt); and,
  • Certain foreign nationals (see full list here)
    • Temporary foreign workers –
      • Holders of a valid work permit; and,
      • Holders of a written work permit approval (issued at any time).
    • Some international students
      • Holders of a valid study permit; and,
      • Holders of a written study permit approval issued before noon EST on March 18, 2020.
    • Some approved permanent residents –
      • A person whose application for permanent residence was approved before 12 noon EST on March 18, 2020.
    • Immediate family members of a Canadian citizen or Canadian permanent resident.
    • Immediate family members with written authorization from the Government of Canada to reunite with a non-Canadian citizen or permanent resident living in Canada (see Newsflash regarding Family Reunification for Temporary Residents in Canada).

All passengers will need to pass a health check conducted by the airlines before being permitted to board. Travellers who are symptomatic of COVID-19 will not be allowed to fly, regardless of citizenship.

With few exceptions, all persons must undergo a mandatory self-isolation period of 14 days and must have a credible isolation plan (i.e. how they will get to their residence/accommodation from the airport without using public transport, as well as how they will secure food or groceries) upon arrival in Canada, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. This does not apply to non-symptomatic travelers who are transiting through Canada to their final destination, or to those delivering an essential service.

Please note that on Wednesday April 15 at 11:59 p.m., service hours at low-traffic border crossings will be reduced.

It is important that all travellers plan ahead and seek advice before beginning their travel to Canada.

Guidance on Essential Services and Functions in Canada During the COVID-19 Pandemic

What is the change?

The Canadian Government has provided for exemptions from the travel ban for US citizens and foreign nationals if they are deemed to be entering Canada to provide ‘essential services’. Prioritization of new work permit applications of foreign national workers who are deemed to be providing an essential service will also occur.

On April 9, 2020, the Government of Canada (Public Safety Canada) specified what constitutes “essential” work (see full list here). While this list is indicative of what might be considered an essential service by IRCC or CBSA, it is not necessarily determinative.

The list focuses on “critical infrastructure” which is essential to the health, safety, security or economic well-being of Canadians and the effective functioning of government:

  • Energy and Utilities
  • Information and Communication Technologies
  • Finance
  • Health
  • Food
  • Water
  • Transportation
  • Safety
  • Government
  • Manufacturing

By considering the “essential” work list, in addition to exempting the individual from the travel ban requirements, employers may benefit from faster processing times and prioritization of work permit applications if the work is “essential.”

Additional supporting documentation is recommended for new work permit applications for those who will provide ‘essential services’, and those seeking entry on existing work permits to provide essential services.

Temporary Processing Changes

What is the change?

As part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has implemented temporary processing changes for specific immigration applications in order to focus resources on critical services. The temporary processing changes will be effective until April 29 and may be extended.

The temporary processing changes apply to:

  • Work permits –
    • If applying for a work permit from outside Canada, all persons must apply online.
    • If approved and before travelling, temporary foreign workers must have the following:
      • Work Permit approval letter;
      • Confirmation that the job is still valid and the employer is still operating and not subject to the mandatory closure of non-essential businesses; and,
      • Self-isolation plan (the plan must cover the mandatory self-isolation period of 14 days and must be a credible isolation plan, i.e. how they will get to their residence/accommodation from the airport without using public transport, as well as how they will secure food or groceries).
  • Study permits –
    • If applying for a study permit from outside Canada, all persons must apply online; and,
    • IRCC will continue to process study permit applications to the extent possible.
  • Visitor visas (including transit visas) and electronic travel authorization (eTA) applications –

IRCC has suspended processing of non-essential visitor visa applications and some eTA applications, unless exempted (see Newsflash regarding Current Travel Restrictions and Exemptions).

Canadian immigration authorities are processing applications, and approvals are being received.

We recommend that employers continue to apply for work permits for key foreign workers, and support permanent residence applications. Applications for temporary work permits for those providing essential services may be prioritized. Applying now will enable employers to have key foreign nationals in place when business fully resumes

Family Reunification for Temporary Residents in Canada

What is the changes

The Government of Canada has updated its policy to clarify the eligibility of family members accompanying temporary residents (i.e. work permit holders, study permit holders, etc.) to Canada. Under the present rules, accompanying family members will require the following:

  • Written authorization from IRCC confirming their exemption to the travel restrictions;
  • A valid visa or eTA;
  • A valid passport; and,
  • Clear indication of health (i.e., no visible symptoms).

Per the policy, principal applicants will need to travel to Canada first before accompanying family members are eligible to travel.

With few exceptions, all persons must undergo a mandatory self-isolation period of 14 days and must have a credible isolation plan (i.e. how they will get to their residence/accommodation from the airport without using public transport, as well as how they will secure food or groceries) upon arrival in Canada, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms.

Update April 10th, 2020

Important information regarding Canada and COVID-19

What is the change?

As has been the case for the past several days, the situation remains very fluid and circumstances can change with little notice. Moreover, the interpretation and application of what is being announced is not being consistently applied and interpreted by various officials and front line officers.

Key developments today are:

The closure of the Canada-US border to all non-essential travel (effective date unclear but likely no later than Saturday March 21)
Confirmation in writing that Temporary Foreign Workers and Student Visa holders who are outside of Canada as of 12 noon EDT on March 18, 2020 are unable to return to Canada unless they are the immediate family member of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, or meet another exception.

Travel Restrictions

By Air

Late on March 18 an “Order in Council” was published which gives some additional details as to the previously announced prohibition against some people entering Canada by air.

The order is effective March 18, 2020 until noon EDT June 30, 2020.

Foreign nationals (those who are neither Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada) are prohibited from entering Canada by air unless they fall within one of a number of specified exceptions, including:

  • A person who has been in only the United States or Canada in the fourteen days before arrival;
  • An immediate family member of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident;
  • A person authorized in writing by a Canadian consular officer to enter Canada for family reunification;
  • A person who in the opinion of the Chief Public Health Officer does not pose a risk of significant harm to public health or will provide an essential service while in Canada.

With regards to foreign national work or study permit holders, on March 18 the Minister of Public Safety said in an interview that those with work permits and study permits would be allowed to enter Canada. Earlier today Immigration Refugees Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) provided written instructions that international students and workers would not be allowed to enter Canada by air unless they are the spouse, common law partner or dependent child of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada.

By Land

Both the Canadian and US governments have announced their intention to close the border to those seeking to cross for non-essential travel. Earlier today Immigration Refugees Citizenship Canada confirmed in writing that the ban on entry includes US citizens, green card holders or those that have a visa in hand if the purpose of entry is considered ‘non-essential travel’, or if they have been in a recent ‘hot spot’ in the past 14 days, or if showing symptoms on arrival.

In spite of the closure, Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be permitted to enter Canada (likewise for US citizens and green card holders returning to the US).
Earlier today the Prime Minister had advised that the border closure provision for non-essential travel would not take effect until Friday evening or Saturday. In the IRCC announcement today, there is a suggestion that the prohibition is currently being applied.
General

Foreign national immediate family members of Canadian citizens or permanent residents seeking to travel to Canada should travel with proof of relationship to the Canadian citizen or permanent resident, and proof of that individual’s status in Canada.

The 14 day self-isolation period applies to all individuals entering Canada from any country.

Update : March 19, 2020

Borders close, US citizens exempt

The Canadian government continues to make announcements further to the ongoing efforts to combat COVID-19.

What is the change?

The situation remains very fluid and circumstances can change with little notice. As well, given that announcements are not readily being accompanied by written policies and procedures, the interpretation and application of what is being announced is not being consistently applied and interpreted by various officials and front line officers.

That being so we wish to advise you of what we know at this time.

Travel Restrictions Between Canada and the United States

  • On March 18, both the Canadian and American governments announced that they agreed to temporarily restrict all non-essential travel across the Canada-US border. They did not announce when it would take effect;
  • Prime Minister Trudeau did say that essential travel will continue. Thus far there has been no elaboration on what is considered essential travel but Trudeau specifically mentioned supply chains including trucking would not be affected by the new measure;
  • Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada will continue to have the right to enter Canada although they will be required to self-quarantine for fourteen days after entering Canada.

Travel Restrictions That Were Effective March 18

  • As previously announced as of noon (EDT) March 18, Canadian borders closed for those arriving by air to most people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents; there are exceptions for US citizens, diplomats, immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, and personnel providing essential services
  • Foreign nationals (not Canadian citizens, permanent residents or other exempt categories), who have been outside of Canada but in the US for at least 14 days prior to attempting to enter Canada from the date of effect of the travel restrictions, would be permitted to fly to Canada. However, given the impending closure of the Canada-US border for non-essential travel, the purpose of entry of these individuals must align with ‘essential travel’;
  • On March 18, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety said in an interview that foreign workers and international students living in Canada will be able to return to Canada. Like others entering the country, they will have to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Canada. This is a significant improvement to the situation of temporary foreign workers who were unable to board flights to Canada after 12 noon EDT on March 18.
  • We are continuing to closely monitor the application of these developments around the world as individuals seek to board flights or cross the land border to enter Canada. We will continue to keep you informed.

Our upcoming actions

We will continue to review our in-process applications, and connect with those we know intended to travel to Canada in the coming weeks, to identify individuals that might be affected and recommend next steps.
We will also be monitoring all available sources of information to confirm the situation related to temporary status holders, and other developments.

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