Covid-19 Immigration Updates
Update: As of January 27, 2021, international students in Canada who held a post-graduation work permit that expired on or after January 30, 2020 or that hold a PGWP that will expire within 4 months from the date of application, can apply for an 18-month open work permit. Applications will be accepted until July 27, 2021.
Updated January 27, 2021
Recently, the Canadian government has made several announcements that have significantly changed travel and other immigration policies due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Here are some main points:
Who Can Travel to Canada:
- Canadian Citizens, Permanent Residents, Person’s registered under Canada’s Indian Act and Protected Persons are all able to travel and enter Canada.
- Immediate family members of a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident who will be staying in Canada for at least 15 days.
- Immediate family member is defined as: spouse or common law partner, dependent child under the age of 22, children of dependent children, parents or step-parents of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner, or a guardian or tutor.
- Extended family members of a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident who will be staying in Canada for at least 15 days.
- Extended family member is defined as:
- individuals in an exclusive dating relationship with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident for at least 1 year who have spent time in the physical presence of the Canadian citizen or permanent resident during the relationship, and these individuals’ dependent children;
- adult children;
- siblings (including step and half-siblings); and
- Extended family members, however, will require a travel authorization letter from IRCC prior to boarding a flight
- Extended family member is defined as:
- All other foreign nationals must:
- 1. Be travelling for an essential (non-discretionary) purpose; and
- 2. Either (a) travelling directly from the United States or (b) exempt from the travel restrictions (see below).
- The following are examples of individuals that are exempt from the above travel ban:
- Foreign workers who normally live in Canada;
- Individuals with a work permit approval letter and a valid job offer;
- International students who hold a valid study permit, or had been approved for a study permit and will be attending a DLI with an approved covid plan;
- Permanent Resident applicants who had been approved for landing before the travel restrictions took effect on March 18, but have not yet travelled to Canada to land; and
- Family members of international students, workers, and visitors who are currently residing in Canada. Obtaining a travel authorization letter is required if travelling from outside of the United States.
- Despite the above listed exceptions, an individual who is entering Canada for an optional or discretionary purpose (ex. tourism, recreation or entertainment) will not be permitted to enter Canada.
- Travel for the purposes of obtaining immigration services (otherwise known as flagpoling) is considered non-essential. CBSA has directed that foreign nationals are to not travel to the border for the purposes of applying for a work permit, study permit or to land as a Permanent Resident. Instead, apply online.
- The travel ban also applies to anyone who is symptomatic (regardless of their immigration status).
- All individuals entering Canada from abroad must isolate for 14 days upon their arrival in Canada.
- All individuals, 5 years or older, flying to Canada from outside Canada will be required to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test conducted within 72 hours prior to the boarding of their flight.
Updates for Individuals in Canada:
- Foreign nationals whose status expired after January 30, 2020 and on or before May 31, 2021 will have until August 31, 2021 to apply for restoration, instead of the regular 90 days.
- Further to above, foreign workers who held a work permit within the 12-months prior to their application for restoration, have a job offer, and have submitted an employer-specific work permit application (with either an LMIA or Offer of Employment), will be permitted to start working while awaiting a decision on their restoration and work permit applications. Individuals are required to obtain written authorization from IRCC prior to restarting work.
- Applicants in Canada are now temporarily exempt from the requirement to provide their biometrics. This applies to both new and in-progress temporary residence applications. Individuals who have already submitted their applications do not need to do anything further – IRCC will continue processing applications.
- Service Canada Officers are now calling in-Canada permanent residence applicants to schedule biometrics appointments.
- International students in Canada will remain eligible for the post-graduation work permit even if, due to Covid-19, more than 50% of the program is done online.
- International students working in an essential service or function (ex health care, critical infrastructure, food supply), were previously able to work more than 20 hours/week on their study permit – even while classes were in session. Please note, this measure expired on August 31, 2020.
- A new temporary program to grant permanent residence to asylum seekers working in the healthcare sector during the Covid-19 pandemic was announced on August 14, 2020. Applicants have until August 31, 2021 to submit an application.
- As of January 27, 2021, international students in Canada who held a post-graduation work permit that expired on or after January 30, 2020 or that hold a PGWP that will expire within 4 months from the date of application, can apply for an 18-month open work permit. Applications will be accepted until July 27, 2021.
Other Policy Updates:
- Immigration processing offices are still open and processing applications, but we expect that there likely will be delays in processing times.
- The Federal Court suspension period has ended.
- Deportations have been temporarily halted until further notice.
- All in-person citizenship interviews, tests and ceremonies, remain cancelled until further notice.
- IRCC has announced that Permanent Resident applicants who have provided their biometrics within the past 10 years, will now be temporarily exempt from having to provide biometrics again for their PR application.
- Extensions for passport submissions, medicals and police certificates are being provided. However, it is important to still include a letter of explanation as to why a document is not being provided for your applications.
- Certain international students outside of Canada will be able to start their studies online outside of Canada while awaiting a decision on their study permit application and have the time count towards their post-graduation work permit eligibility as long as at least 50% of the program is completed in Canada.
- For international students who have started a 8-month or 1-year program in the spring, summer or fall 2020 semesters, the entire program can be completed online and outside of Canada, while maintaining eligibility for the PGWP.
- Applying for and receiving the CERB will not negatively impact the eligibility of individuals applying to sponsor their spouse, child, parent or grandparent. Those who have been sponsored can also access CERB without worrying about the sponsorship being considered in default.
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Disclaimer: the information provided in this webpage is for general information purposes only and is only valid at the time of posting. It is not meant to be taken as legal advice for individual circumstances which require personal consultations.