Covid-19 Immigration Updates
Update: International students working in an essential service or function (ex health care, critical infrastructure, food supply), are able to work more than 20 hours/week on their study permit – even while classes are in session. To determine if your work is considered essential, check here.
Updated April 22, 2020
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:
Travel Ban for Flights:
- The travel ban was implemented on Wednesday, March 18 at 12PM EDT. The ban now applies to all foreign nationals (those who are not Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents) who would be flying into Canada from a country other than the United States.
- The following individuals are exempt from the above travel ban:
- Foreign workers with continuing job offers;
- International students who hold a valid study permit, or had been approved for a study permit, when the travel restrictions took effect on March 18;
- 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;
- Foreign nationals who have immediate family members that are Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents. Included family members are an individual’s: married spouse, common-law partner, dependent children under the age of 22, children of dependent children, the parent or step-parent of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner, or the guardian or tutor;
- Family members of international students, workers, and visitors who are currently residing in Canada. Obtaining a letter from consular services to present to the airline carrier is required; and
- Protected persons.
- 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.
- 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.
Restrictions for Travel across US-Canada Border by Land:
- Canada and the United States have also agreed to restrict travel across the land borders. Non-essential travellers, including those for recreational and tourism purposes, will no longer be able to cross.
- Exceptions for international students and foreign workers are pursuant to the above.
- Family members of international students, foreign workers and visitors who are currently residing in Canada; a letter from consular services is not required but is recommended.
- Asylum seekers entering Canada from the United States are prohibited from entering for the purpose of making a refugee claim unless the individual is a US Citizen, a stateless habitual US resident, the parent(s) of minor US Citizens, or an unaccompanied minor.
- 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.
Other Policy Updates:
- Immigration processing offices are still open and processing applications, but we expect that there likely will be delays in processing times.
- All in-person Immigration and Refugee Board Hearings and Mediations (other than detention reviews and some admissibility hearings for detained persons), are postponed until further notice. Federal Court hearings have been suspended between now and May 15, except for stays of removal.
- Deportations have been temporarily halted until further notice.
- All citizenship interviews, tests and ceremonies, along with all biometrics collection and immigration medical examination appointments have all been cancelled until further notice.
- An automatic extension for the provision of biometrics has been provided. Applicants now have 90 days from the date on the biometrics instruction letter to provide their biometrics.
- 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.
- The deadline to submit Express Entry PR applications has been extended to 90 days (from 60 days).
- If you are inside Canada and your status is expiring, it’s important to ensure that you apply to have your status extended. There are currently no automatic status extensions being provided by IRCC.
- New LMIAs are being issued with a validity of 9 months instead of the usual 6 months.
- All International Experience Canada draws are currently on hold.
- International students whose classes have been moved online due to Covid-19 will still be eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit so long as less than 50% of the program is completed online.
- IRCC has temporarily paused the processing of certain applications, including visitor visas and eTAs for non-exempt individuals from April 9 – 29.
- 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.
- International students working in an essential service or function (ex health care, critical infrastructure, food supply), are able to work more than 20 hours/week on their study permit – even while classes are in session. To determine if your work is considered essential, check here.
To speak with one of our lawyers to discuss your situation, please contact us at (416) 548-9101, or by email at email@example.com
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.