March 30 2020 Update

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Canadian citizens, permanent residents and protected persons continue to be permitted to board an aircraft, subject to health screening measures. While the travel restrictions are in effect, IRCC will only be issuing new temporary resident visas or electronic travel authorizations to foreign nationals who can demonstrate that they need to travel to Canada urgently. The interim order exempts certain foreign nationals who are authorized to travel to Canada to work.

Below is a summary of new guidance issued by the Minister of IRCC on the following Immigration processes:

Travel restrictions affecting foreign nationals

Travel restrictions affecting foreign nationals have been implemented under the authority of the Minister of Health through emergency orders under the Quarantine Act and under the authority of the Minister of Transport through interim orders under the Aeronautics Act (I will refer to these as “Orders”).  For travel by Air, the basic rule is that foreign nationals are prohibited from boarding an aircraft for a flight to Canada when

  • the flight is departing from any country other than the United States, and
  • the foreign national is not covered by any of the exemptions in the Orders

Canadian citizens, permanent residents and protected persons continue to be permitted to board an aircraft, subject to health screening measures.

IRCC – Processing Applications for Temporary Resident Visas and Electronic Travel Authorizations

While the travel restrictions are in effect, IRCC will only be issuing new temporary resident visas or electronic travel authorizations to foreign nationals who can demonstrate that they need to travel to Canada urgently. The Immigration officer or case processing officer must verify the purpose of travel, and they will also have the ability to assess whether the foreign national is covered by an exemption under the Orders.

Where the foreign national’s immediate family member is a foreign national resident of Canada, this exemption will apply. To facilitate the foreign national’s travel to Canada, the processing officer will prepare and send an email within the processing networks authorizing travel under this exemption at the same time that they issue the temporary resident visa or electronic travel authorization.   

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers and GLOBAL AFFAIRS CANADA (GAC) Employees 

CBSA officers and GAC employees who may require assistance to confirm that a foreign national passenger is eligible for this exemption will likely seek guidance from CBSA and GAC, respectively, through established channels.  We continue to work to ensure these channels are open and working in the manner they were intended to.

Government of Canada officials may also contact the IRCC Operations Support Centre (OSC) to verify immigration status and family relationships to the extent that this information is available in immigration records.  Again, we continue to work to ensure the OSC is working in the manner it was intended to.

Temporary Foreign Workers

The interim order exempts certain foreign nationals who are authorized to travel to Canada to work.

This includes temporary workers who were already established in Canada or who had made arrangements to come to Canada to work before the travel restrictions were put in place. It also includes new workers who are coming to Canada to be employed in critical industries, such as agriculture, food processing, health, transportation and emergency services.

These foreign nationals can self-identify to airlines at the point of boarding that they are exempt under this provision by presenting

  • a valid work permit, or
  • a letter of introduction from IRCC

For new workers to be authorized to travel to Canada, they must obtain a letter of introduction from IRCC.   Please contact our offices if you have new workers that need to travel to Canada for work purposes so we can assess and analysis the situation.  

Permit-exempt work

The interim order provides for a number of scenarios where the foreign national is not required to obtain a work permit:

  • providers of emergency services, including medical services, for the protection or preservation of life or property (includes firefighters)
  • students in a health field, including as a medical elective or clinical clerk at a medical teaching institution in Canada, for the primary purpose of acquiring training, if they have written approval from the body that regulates that field
  • foreign nationals seeking to enter and remain in Canada solely to become a member of a crew of a means of transportation, including a vessel engaged in international transportation

These foreign nationals can self-identify to airlines at the point of boarding that they are exempt under this provision by presenting alternative documentation. Please contact our offices if you have permit-exempt workers that need to travel to Canada for for any of the purposes stated above so we can assess and analysis the situation. National interest
The interim order does also exempt a foreign national whose presence in Canada, in the opinion of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) or the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (CBSA), is in the national interest.  This exemption may only be applied by any of the 3 ministers of the Agency’s. We now know that the decision for these exemptions will be made by the respective Minister. The IRCC Case Management Branch will manage these situations in accordance with existing processes.  Please contact our offices if you have essential workers that need to travel to Canada for a purposes you feel may qualify under the National Interest Exemption so we can assess and analysis the situation. 

PLEASE SEE ATTACHED FURTHER GUIDANCE FOR EMPLOYERS PROVIDED DIRECTLY BY HRSDC 

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