CanadaThe Government of Canada is providing an update on travel restrictions put in place to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Exemptions to the air travel restrictions will apply to foreign nationals who have already committed to working, studying or making Canada their home, and travel by these individuals will be considered essential travel for land border restrictions.

The exemptions include

  • seasonal agricultural workers, fish/seafood workers, caregivers and all other temporary foreign workers
  • 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
  • permanent resident applicants who had been approved for permanent residence before the travel restrictions were announced on March 16, 2020, but who had not yet travelled to 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.

To safeguard the continuity of trade, commerce, health and food security for all Canadians, temporary foreign workers in agriculture, agri-food, seafood processing and other key industries will be allowed to travel to Canada under exemptions being put in place to the air travel restrictions that took effect on March 18.

In addition to health screening protocols before travel, all individuals entering from abroad must isolate for 14 days upon their arrival in Canada.

Allowing foreign workers to enter Canada recognizes their vital importance to the Canadian economy, including food security for Canadians and the success of Canadian food producers. The arrival of farm workers and fish/seafood workers is essential to ensure that planting and harvesting activities can take place. There will always be jobs available for Canadians who wish to work on farms and at food processing plants.

Those affected by these exemptions should not try to travel to Canada immediately. We will announce when the exemptions are in place, which we anticipate will be early next week.

For more information, click here.

For information on the United States’ land border closure with Canada, click here.

Land Borders

Currently at Land borders, US Citizens, green card holders or those that have a Visa in hand can be denied entry if considered to be “Non-essential travel”. US citizens can also be barred from entry if they have been in a recent hot spot in the past 14 days or if they show symptoms upon arrival. This measure does not include or apply to Canadian Citizens and or permanent residents and or First Nations, including family members. I refer to the Immigration Refugee Protection Act’s definition of family member, see regulation R1(3). All travellers would be required to self-isolate if allowed entry into the country.

Travel for the purpose of obtaining immigration services is non-essential. If you are in Canada, and are seeking to travel to the border in order to make an application for a work permit, study permit or permanent residence, you are asked to consider Federal and Provincial guidelines for self-isolation and social distancing. Do not travel to the border for these services until the further notice.

Air Carriers

To confirm, a travel ban has been implemented through an order under the Aeronautics Act which requires air carriers operating flights to Canada to deny boarding to any passenger who is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident (or an immediate family member).  The measure came into force on Wednesday, March 18, at 12:00 p.m. (noon) EDT, and applies to travelers arriving by air.

For clarity, what this means is that international students and workers who are outside of Canada and the United States will not be permitted to board an aircraft to return to Canada, unless they are the spouse, common-law partner or dependent child of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

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.

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New Travel Restrictions

CBSA officers do have some limited discretion to allow travelers based on humanitarian and compassionate cases or other good and sound reasons.  However, we still recommend all travelers to be cautious and have a backup plan before attempting to enter into Canada.

1) March 20th – restricting entry from the US:

2) March 22nd – prohibiting entry from all other countries:

3) March 22nd – Regs to amend the IRP Regs re: COVID-19 (to be published in April, SOR/ 2020-0055):