Immigration Questions In The Covid-19 Era
On March 18, 2020, the Government of Canada announced special border measures and travel restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19. Despite these measures and restrictions, the Government of Canada continues to accept immigration applications for permanent residence, issuing work permit to foreign nationals, holding Express Entry draws, and sending out invitations to apply for permanent residence. In addition, Canada exempted certain foreign nationals from the travel restrictions. Therefore, those with immediate family members in Canada and compelling reasons to enter Canada have some ability to enter the country.
In the past few weeks, our offices have received several questions with respect to immigration during these challenging times. Below some of the most common questions.
Is Canada Still Accepting Applications For Permanent Residence?
Yes, while Canada has imposed special border measures and travel restrictions, those eligible to immigrate to Canada are still welcome to submit applications, including family sponsorships and Express Entry applications.
Is Canada Still Holding Express Entry Draws?
Even with travel restrictions in place, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) continues to hold Express Entry draws and issue invitations to apply for permanent residence. Moreover, considering the current situation, IRCC has also implemented temporary police changes to provide candidates with more time to obtain and submit required documentation in case the applicant is being affected by COVID-19 disruptions.
Who Can Travel To Canada During Coronavirus Pandemic?
The general is Canadian citizens and permanent resident can travel to Canada. Some foreign nationals may only travel to Canada for non-discretionary reasons.
The following are among the people who may travel to Canada:
- Canadian citizens
- Permanent residents
- Person registered under Canada’s Indian Act
- Protected Person
- Permanent resident applicants who were approved for permanent residence before Canada announced its travel restrictions on March 16, 2020 but not yet traveled to Canada
- Immediate family of Canadian citizens and permanent residents (spouses, common-law partners, dependent children, grandchildren, parent or step-parent, and guardian or tutor)
- Temporary foreign workers if they are coming to Canada for a non-discretionary reason.
- International students who held a valid study permit or approval for a study permit when Canada’s travel restrictions took effect on March 18, 2020
If Exempt From Travel Restrictions, Will I Be Screened For Coronavirus Symptoms?
Yes, airline companies will be responsible for screening the health of individuals before they board a plane to Canada. Airlines have been instructed to prevent individuals who have COVID-19 symptoms from flying to Canada.
The Government of Canada has issued a statement indicating that passengers who display a fever of over 38°C, a cough, or breathing difficulties may be denied from boarding a plane unless they have a medical certificate that confirms the symptoms are not due to COVID-19.
Do I Need To Self Quarantine When I Arrive In Canada?
Individuals entering Canada are required by law to quarantine themselves immediately for a period of 14 days. Individuals arriving in Canada must have a plan to quarantine for 14 days. This is mandatory, even if you have no symptoms. If you do not have a plan, you should not travel to Canada.
The penalties for not following your quarantine plan can include:
- a fine of up to $750,000
- 6 months of jail time
- An inadmissibility finding, resulting in removal from Canada and banned from entering for 1 year
Only people who provide essential services, for example truck drivers who regularly cross the border to maintain the flow of goods, are exempt from the quarantine requirements.
My Courses Are Now Online, Does This Change My Post- Graduation Work Permit Program Eligibility ?
If your courses are being moved to an online-only format because of COVID-19, you are still eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP). Therefore, if you have a study permit, or approval for a study permit for a program starting in the spring, summer or fall 2020, but you lack the ability to travel to Canada at this time due to travel restrictions, you retain eligiblity for the PGWPP.
If you are in this situation, you may
- begin your classes while outside Canada, and
- complete up to 50% of your program while outside Canada if you cannot travel to Canada sooner.
If you start your studies in fall 2020, you will not have time deducted from the length of your post-graduation work permit for studies you complete while outside Canada between fall 2020 and December 31, 2020.
What To Do As A Laid Off Foreign Worker
As a worker you have 2 options:
- If you work permit is expiring soon, and you will no longer work in Canada
- You can apply to change your status to visitor. You will need to explain the reasons why you need to change your status and extend your stay in Canada.
- If you want to continue working in Canada, you may be able to extend your work permit as long as you are eligible.
Moreover, effective May 12, 2020, Canada implemented a temporary public policy. This policy allows temporary workers already in Canada to begin work more quickly in advance of a final decision on their work permit application.
How Our Immigration Lawyers Help?
Do you still have questions? Still unsure whether you are exempt from the travel restriction? Need more information on how to approach your permanent residence application during this pandemic? Want assistance extending your study permit, work permit or obtaining a PGWP? Need more specifics than this Covid Canadian immigration update? We help!
For fastest responses, email us directly here. Also, get in touch with us at 403-225-8810, (780) 571-8463 or 1-877-225-8817. Our lawyers have experience working with individuals and businesses and are more than ready and willing to assist you.
The content on this article is provided for general information purposes only. It is not specific legal or professional advice of any kind. Rules are changing regularly given the nature of the situation.