What are the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic in Canada Immigration Services?

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Most of the countries around the globe are currently being affected by the coronavirus pandemic, including Canada. Like many other nations, Canada is implementing measures to protect its population and contain the spread of the virus. Keep on reading to obtain more details on those measures and understand their impact on Canada immigration services.

Travel restrictions in Canada by air

One of the major measures Canada implemented this March is restricting non-essential travel. Canada is currently denying boarding to all foreign nationals on flights to Canada coming from all countries, but there are exceptions.

Permanent residents, citizens, and their immediate family members can enter the country. Foreign nationals traveling from the United States who have been in the US for at least 14 days and are asymptomatic may also enter Canada by air.

By an immediate family member of citizens and permanent residents, the Canadian government means a spouse or common-law partner; dependent children; dependent children of the spouse or common-law partner; parent or step-parent of the person or the person’s spouse or common-law partner; guardian or tutor.

canada immigration during coronavirus pandemicCanada also exempted other groups from the travel restrictions. Such as people registered under Canada’s Indian Act; protected persons; foreign nationals traveling at the invitation of the Canadian government for a purpose related to the containment of COVID-19 and transiting passengers.

On March 26th, Canada updated the travel restrictions. The government announced that approved temporary and permanent residents who haven’t yet landed are now able to enter Canada. More specifically, temporary foreign workers and international students who have a valid study permit or who were approved for a study permit before March 18, 2020, can now enter Canada. Also, foreign nationals who were approved for permanent residence before March 16, 2020, but who hadn’t yet traveled to Canada, are now exempt from these restrictions.

Traveling to Canada during the coronavirus pandemic

Besides the restrictions, Canada has announced the creation of the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program to help Canadians abroad to return home. However, Canada always recommends its citizens to try to return home using their own financial means.

If traveling by air, the person needs to pass a health check before boarding the flight. Anyone who shows symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter Canada by air. Also, Canada will assess the health of all people landing before they leave the port of entry. All people arriving in Canada must isolate for 14 days even if they are not presenting symptoms. This is a mandatory safety measure imposed by the government of Canada.

Travel restrictions in Canada by land and sea

No cruise ship travel is recommended during the coronavirus pandemic. Regarding travel by land, the Canadian and the American governments agreed to temporarily restrict all non-essential travel across the Canada–US border. This measure started on March 20th and affects mainly tourists. All essential and business travel will continue (transport of food, fuel, and medical supplies, etc).

Canadian and American citizens and permanent residents who are currently visiting each other’s country can still return home. However, when returning to Canada, the person must stay isolated for at least 14 days. Only people who provide essential services and truck drivers who regularly cross the border to maintain the flow of goods are exempt from the isolation requirements.

Border crossing US Canada immigration travel restrictions coronavirus pandemicBesides, foreign nationals who have committed to working, studying or making their home in Canada will be permitted to enter Canada by land. They are exempt from border restrictions and can enter Canada. Diplomats, American travelers arriving in Canada in transit to a third country, and travelers with family-care, educational or compassionate reasons are also allowed to cross the border. 

If a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, person registered under Canada’s Indian Act, protected person or exempt person is exhibiting symptoms, they can still enter Canada at a land border but must isolate for 14 days.

Canada immigration services during the coronavirus pandemic

Now that you have the most important information about travel restrictions in Canada, it’s time to reply to the essential questions about the Canada immigration services during the coronavirus pandemic.

Can I still apply for Canada immigration services during the coronavirus pandemic?

Yes! Canada will continue to accept application processes at this time: Express Entry, temporary work programs, study in Canada programs, etc. However, the coronavirus pandemic may have an impact application canada immigrationon processing times. Therefore, the current posted processing times may not be accurate.

In addition, Canada announced that no application in progress will be closed or refused due to a lack of documentation or inability to complete the application process in time, such as giving biometrics or completing an immigration medical exam, when travel reopens.

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What are the impacts on IRCC operations?

IRCC announced a reduction in its documents operations during this period. All citizenship ceremonies, tests and retests, in-person permanent resident landing appointments, and refugee claimant appointments are canceled at the moment.

IRCC also informed that they contact clients directly to reschedule their appointments. Besides, IRCC suspended non-essential settlement services and biometrics collection services at fifty eight Service Canada locations.

Are there modifications to temporary residents of Canada?

Canada modified temporarily the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process for agriculture and food-processing employers. The 2-week required recruitment period will be waived for the next 6 months. In addition, Canada increased the maximum allowable employment duration for workers in the low-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program from 1 to 2 years. 

Meanwhile, Canada reassured international students that courses of study being delivered online on an exceptional basis due to coronavirus pandemic will not affect their Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program eligibility.

Read more: Everything you need to know about Post Graduation Work Permit

Read more: How to become a permanent resident in Canada after graduation?

What should I do if I am in Canada with a valid temporary status that is about to expire?

You should apply online to extend your status. A temporary resident of Canada who has applied to extend their status is allowed to remain in the country until a decision is made on their new application. Even if their initial status expires while they are waiting for that decision, they can still stay in Canada under implied status.

Notice that traveling to a port of entry from inside Canada to get immigration services is not an option at the moment, as this is not considered essential travel.

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About Author

Journalist from Rio de Janeiro currently writing about Immigration in Montreal, Quebec. I'm passionate about culture, arts, communication and internet. And if you admire Canada as much as me and want to keep updated, this blog is the right place for you.