The months of April/May were pretty much shut down months with little or no ease in COVID-19 related restrictions. However, towards the end of May, we have begun to see signs of these restrictions being eased or relaxed, especially in the days and weeks ahead.
The travel restrictions in place at the US/Canadian border remain in effect until at least June 21, 2020 by agreement between Canada and the US. As such, the border remains closed for all but essential travel. However, I have been informed by the Government of Canada that the CBSA will now begin processing work permit applications at the POE for essential workers. It is still not business as usual at the POE. It may be quite some time before we return to business as usual. However, I am told that the CBSA is adopting the policy that if your business is considered essential and is open and operating, they will now commence processing applications for work permits for all essential workers at the point of entry (POE).
I would imagine that there may be differences from Officer to Officer on this issue, as we have seen throughout this pandemic a great deal of discrepancy in decision making on wide ranging issues involving the travel restrictions in place at the US/Canadian border. Having said that, if you have foreign workers in the US who are US citizens and they need to apply for Canadian work permits, please contact our office to explore the viability of POE processing to expedite new work permit applications. If POE processing is still not recommended by our office at this time, IRCC has committed to expediting the processing of work permit applications for essential workers. IRCC continues to focus resources on critical and essential services. While the processing of all temporary foreign worker applications continue, there remains a particular focus on expediting work permits for individuals in essential services.
The previous restrictions that limited international students to work a maximum of 20 hours per week while classes are in session continue to be paused, provided these students are working in an essential service or function, such as health care, critical infrastructure, or the supply of food or other critical goods.
The Canadian government is also fast-tracking approvals for temporary foreign workers already in Canada in order to allow them to transition to a new job and make them available to fill labour gaps in critical sectors of our economy such as agriculture and health care during the pandemic. New measures announced on May 12, 2020 allows foreign workers already in Canada to transition to a new job in 5-10 days while their new work permit application is in process.
I expect June to be a busier month for COVID-19 updates as Canadian Provinces and US States have all initiated a phased re-opening of their economies as determined by each respective jurisdiction. I caution all that the COVID-19 situation remains fluid and heavily dependent on future circumstances. However, we continue to work with all levels of government to represent our client’s interests and of course to bring you the most complete and up-to-date information as it is made available to us.
Please feel free to reach out to us at your convenience to discuss any aspect of the COVID-19 travel and border restrictions in place.