Last updated on April 1st, 2020

Last Updated on April 1, 2020 by Steven Meurrens

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian government has implemented several measures that impact immigration programs and the ability to enter Canada. Current measures under the Non-US OIC and the Quarantine OIC will be effective until June 30, 2020, while current measures under the US OIC will be effective until April 21, 2020, and current measures under the Interim Order are effective until further notice.

 

Please note that the Canadian government is expected to amend its policies as needed in the coming weeks and months and as such we ask that you contact us for advice before relying on the information provided in this memo.

 

  1. PERSONS ALLOWED INTO CANADA

 

Before determining whether you fall into one of the categories below, please note that any persons exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms (e.g. fever and cough, or fever and breathing difficulties) will not be allowed to board an aircraft to fly into Canada, regardless of your status in Canada. This blanket prohibition affects Canadian citizens and permanent residents. You will, however, be allowed to enter Canada through the Canada–US land border, though you will be subject to the 14-day self-isolation requirement outlined in the Quarantine OIC.

 

Please note that, even if you fall into one of the exemptions below, foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada must still apply for a Temporary Resident Visa (if you are travelling to Canada as a citizen of a visa-requiring country) or an eTA (if you are flying to Canada as a citizen of a visa-exempt country).

 

  1. Canadian Citizens and Permanent Residents

 

If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who is not exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms you will be allowed to board any aircraft into Canada. You will also be permitted to enter Canada through the Canada-US land border.

 

  1. Family Members of Canadian Citizens and Permanent Residents[2]

 

You are an immediate family member of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident if you are their parent, spouse/common-law partner, or dependent child. You are a dependent child if you are under 22 years of age and do not have a spouse or common-law partner, or if you are over 22 and have a physical or mental condition that renders you financially dependent on your parents.

 

If you fall under this exemption and are not exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, you are currently allowed to fly into Canada. You will need to have documentation on hand when boarding your aircraft to demonstrate that your immediate family member is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident and that you are their immediate family member. You will also be allowed to enter through the Canada–US land border.

 

  • Family Members of Foreign Nationals in Canada[3]

 

If your parent, spouse/common-law partner, or dependent child is a foreign national in Canada, you may fall under this exemption. Similarly, if you are the parent, spouse/common-law partner, or dependent child of a foreign national in Canada, you may also fall under this exemption. Please note that this means if you are not a dependent child, but your parent is a foreign national in Canada, you may still fall under this exemption.

 

If you believe you may fall under this exemption, please contact Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”). An officer will assess your case. If the officer believes that allowing you to travel to Canada will facilitate family reunification, they will issue an explanation letter that you will need to submit to the airline in order to demonstrate that you are authorized to travel to Canada. You will then be allowed to fly into Canada from any country in the world, provided that you are not exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. You will also be allowed to enter through the Canada–US land border.

 

  1. International Students[4]

 

The following foreign nationals will be allowed to board a flight to Canada from any country in the world, provided that they are not exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms:

 

  1. Those who hold a valid Canadian study permit; or
  2. Those who were issued a letter of invitation dated on or before March 18, 2020.

 

If you fall under one of these two categories, please present your study permit or letter of introduction when boarding your flight. You will also be allowed to travel across the Canada–US land border.

 

  1. Temporary Foreign Workers[5]

 

The following foreign nationals will be allowed to enter Canada:

 

  1. Those who hold a valid Canadian work permit; or
  2. Those who hold a letter of introduction from IRCC.

 

Note that unlike the order addressing international students, there is no date before which the letter of introduction must have been issued. This is because IRCC is still continuing to process work permit applications. Approved work permit applicants will receive written approval from IRCC in the form of a letter of introduction or the work permit itself, and will be allowed to board a plane to Canada, provided they do not present with COVID-19 symptoms and will immediately self-isolate for 14 days upon arriving in Canada. You should have your work permit or letter of introduction ready to present when boarding. You will also be allowed to enter via the Canada–US land border.

 

If you are currently applying for a work permit, please note that IRCC will be prioritizing workers coming into Canada to work in “critical industries”. These industries have been defined by IRCC to include agriculture, food processing, health, transportation, and emergency services.

 

  1. Work-Permit Exempt Visitors

 

Unless you fall into one of the other exemptions listed above, foreign nationals travelling to Canada as visitors will not be allowed to enter the country. However, the following foreign nationals will be allowed to enter Canada as visitors (i.e., without needing to receive a work permit or study permit):

 

  1. Providers of emergency services, including medical services;
  2. Students in a health field for the primary purpose of acquiring training; and
  3. Foreign nationals who will become members of a transportation crew.

 

If you fall into one of these three exemptions, you will want to provide documentation to support your claim (i.e., a letter of invitation from a relevant organization in Canada) and present it when boarding your flight to Canada, or when crossing the Canada–US land border.

 

  • Permanent Resident Visa Holders[7]

 

If you were approved for permanent residence on or before March 18, 2020, you will be allowed to board an aircraft into Canada or to enter via the Canada–US land border, provided you do not exhibit COVID-19 symptoms and will immediately self-isolate for 14 days upon arriving in Canada.

 

  • Transit Passengers

 

Foreign nationals who are transiting through Canada on route to another country will be allowed to board an aircraft flying to Canada.

 

 

 

 

Decision Tree Model – Canadian pre-board measures for COVID-19 (Part 1 – Foreign Nationals & Quarantine Act)

 

 

 

  1. QUARANTINE UPON ENTRY INTO CANADA

 

If you enter Canada and you are not exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, you must self-isolate without delay for 14 days. Your screening officer or quarantine officer will provide you with an information sheet. If, during your self-isolation period, you develop COVID-19 symptoms, you must follow the instructions on the information sheet.

 

If you enter Canada and are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, you must disclose this to a screening officer or quarantine officer. If you meet one of the following conditions, you must board a government vehicle and be transported to a government quarantine facility for 14-days:

 

  1. You cannot get to your place of residence in a private vehicle (e.g. if you have to use a plane, bus, train, taxi, public transit, or ride-sharing);
  2. You cannot self-isolate without coming into contact with vulnerable persons, where a vulnerable person is someone who has an underlying medical condition, has a compromised immune system or is 65 years of age or older; or
  3. You cannot have access to the necessities of life if you must self-isolate.

 

These quarantine provisions are broad. There are few exceptions, including air crew members, Canadian force members, or health care providers.

 

  1. IRCC PROCESSING[9]

 

IRCC has announced on its website that it will continue to accept and process applications, including for visitor status, worker status, student status, and permanent residence. However, there may be processing delays as IRCC staff are largely working remotely.

 

In recognition of the fact that applicants may have difficulty providing certain required documents during periods of self-isolation or government “shelter in place measures”, IRCC has announced that permanent resident applicants who are unable to provide supporting documentation in time for application deadlines can submit their application without the required documentation, providing that they notify IRCC in their application that they were unable to provide the document because of COVID-19. IRCC will then put their application on hold for 90 days.

 

Please note that Service Canada locations across the country are currently closed to non-essential services. Applicants will be unable to provide their biometrics within Canada at this point in time. IRCC is providing automatic 90-day extensions to do so.

 

  1. MSP

 

In light of COVID-19, the BC Ministry of Health has announced new temporary MSP policies.

 

The following individuals can apply for temporary MSP coverage:

 

  • Foreign nationals previously enrolled in MSP whose work or study permit has expired and are currently on implied status; and
  • BC residents who are unable to return to Canada and have exceeded their maximum allowable absence from BC.

 

The following individuals can waive the wait period and still have access to health care coverage:

 

  • BC residents who have just returned to Canada and have exceeded their maximum allowable absence from BC; and
  • BC residents who have returned to Canada from a COVID-19 impacted country.

 

There are also policies in place for individuals who are unable or willing to physically attend an ICBC counter for MSP purposes due to COVID-19:

 

  • Individuals who want to renew their MSP enrolment can request a Confirmation of Coverage letter from Health Insurance BC; and
  • Individuals who want to enrol in MSP can obtain a Confirmation of Temporary Coverage letter. The individual will then be temporarily enrolled into the MSP program and receive temporary coverage.

 

Please note that temporary MSP coverage will only be valid until July 31, 2020.

 

[1] See section 12 of the Interim Order.

[2] Paragraph 3(1)(a) of the Non-US OIC permits immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents to enter Canada. Paragraph 4(2)b) of the US OIC then permits the entry of persons referred to in subsection 3(1) of the Non-US OIC.

[3] Paragraph 3(1)(b) of the Non-US OIC permits people who are authorized in writing by IRCC, the Canada Border Services Agency, or a Canadian consular officer to enter Canada for the purpose of reuniting with immediate family members. Paragraph 4(2)b) of the US OIC then permits the entry of persons referred to in subsection 3(1) of the Non-US OIC.

[4] Paragraphs 3(1)(m) and 3(1)(o) of the Non-US OIC address international students. Paragraph 4(2)b) of the US OIC then permits the entry of persons referred to in subsection 3(1) of the Non-US OIC.

[5] Paragraphs 3(1)(m) and 3(1)(n) of the Non-US OIC address foreign workers. Paragraph 4(2)b) of the US OIC then permits the entry of persons referred to in subsection 3(1) of the Non-US OIC.

[6] IRCC’s internal policy guidelines provide this information here: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/operational-bulletins-manuals/service-delivery/coronavirus/travel-restrictions.html. This information is also stated in paragraphs 3(1)(q), 3(1)(p), 3(1)(c), and 3(1)(d) of the Non-US OIC. Paragraph 4(2)b) of the US OIC then permits the entry of persons referred to in subsection 3(1) of the Non-US OIC.

[7] Paragraph 3(1)(u) of the Non-US OIC addresses people whose applications for permanent residence were approved prior to noon EST on March 18, 2020 Paragraph 4(2)b) of the US OIC then permits the entry of persons referred to in subsection 3(1) of the Non-US OIC.

[8] IRCC’s internal policy guidelines provide this information here: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/operational-bulletins-manuals/service-delivery/coronavirus/travel-restrictions.html. This information is also stated in paragraph 4(b) of the Interim Order.

[9] For more information, please see “Are you continuing to process and accept applications” and “What about our domestic IRCC operations”: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/coronavirus-special-measures.html.

Prohibition

12 The air carrier is prohibited from allowing a person to board an aircraft if

  1. (a) the person’s answers to the health check indicate that they exhibit
    1. (i) a fever and cough, or
    2. (ii) a fever and breathing difficulties;
  2. (b) the air carrier observes, during the health check, that the person is exhibiting
    1. (i)a fever and cough, or
    2. (ii) a fever and breathing difficulties;
  3. (c) the person’s answer to the additional question asked to them under subsection 10(2) is in the affirmative; or
  4. (d) the person is a competent adult and refuses to answer any questions asked of them under subsection 10(1) or (2).

An air carrier is prohibited from permitting a foreign national to board an aircraft for a flight to Canada departing from any country other than the United States.

 

Section 3 does not apply to
(a) a foreign national who is permitted to enter Canada under the emergency order made by the Governor General in Council, pursuant to the Quarantine Act, entitled Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Prohibition of Entry into Canada from any country other than the United States); or

(b) a foreign national in transit through Canada to another country.