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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Immigration, Visa, Permits Updates & FAQs

By Reza Motalebpour
04-01-20

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Is the Visa Application Centre in my country still operating?

Many of the overseas VACs are not temporarily closed due to the COVID-19.

Check the bottom of this page for more up to date info from the Canadian government (CIC).

Overseas processing capacity has been significantly reduced, with some IRCC offices closing temporarily and others with reduced capacity. IRCC offices inside Canada are operating with essential staff only. Applications will not necessarily be refused for non-compliance, and all applications currently in the process at IRCC offices will be processed; however, due to office closures and some offices working with essential staff only, there will be processing delays.

Will my visa be processed by the Canadian embassy / VAC?

Most non-essential visitor visa applications have been suspended by overseas offices / VACs. Click here to find out if you are exempt from the travel restrictions.

I from a visa-exempt country. Can I travel to Canada with an eTA during the Coronavirus crisis?

Unfortunately, non-essential travel is not allowed even with an eTA. Click here to find out if you are exempt from the travel restrictions.

Can I travel to Canada as an international student during COVID-19?

There are two main groups of international students allowed to travel to Canada. Check if you fall into any of the below categories to be able to travel to Canada now:

  • You are holding a valid study permit

OR

  • Your study permit application was approved on or before March 18, 2020.

Can I apply for a study visa (i.e. study permit) during the Coronavirus crisis?

Study permit applications are still being processed, however at slower speeds. Many overseas application processing centers have been closed temporarily which may also affect your application. We do not recommend making a new application now unless it is ‘essential’. As well, this type of application requires biometrics. Most biometric collection centers are closed temporarily and therefore it would not be possible to complete this application process in a timely manner.

My PR application has been approved. Can I travel to Canada?

If your PR application has been approved on or before March 18, 2020, you are allowed to travel to Canada. If you were sponsored by a family member in Canada, even after this date, you may be able to travel to Canada. Click here to check if you are exempt from the travel restrictions.

Can I apply for my Permanent Residency (PR) now?

Yes, Permanent Residency PR applications are still being processed by the Canadian government, although with reduced staff.

I have applied for the Startup Visa Program. Will the travel restrictions and shutdown affect my application?

Most Incubators / Angel Investors / Venture Capital funds are still operational and processing the Letter of Support. The PR application is also being processed by offices inside Canada as long as the applicants have their updated police certificate, medical exam and valid IELTS results. Upfront medical exams are not being processed now, but medical examinations with letters issued by the Federal government are being accepted for processing at designated physicians overseas.

I am already approved for permanent residency but my travel document is expiring. What can I do?

Fill out a webform and submit a request for an extension explaining why you cannot travel to Canada as per the confirmation of permanent residency issued on your passport.

Is it mandatory to isolate myself for 14 days if I am a returning Canadian?

Yes. The self-isolation is mandatory for all incoming travelers, except for specific essential service workers involved in deliveries or cross-border activity.

 I have a valid offer of employment and want to apply for my work permit to travel to Canada. Is this possible now?

Yes, temporary foreign worker applications are being processed with a particular focus on essential services, such as those in medical fields and food supply chains. See the travel restrictions exemption points by clicking here.

Can I make a paper visa application outside of Canada?

No. This has been temporarily stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I have already been applied for my study/work permit outside of Canada before the restrictions. I have received a letter requesting me to complete my biometrics in 30 days. How can I do this?

As a special measure, the government of Canada is extending the allowance to complete your biometrics within 90 days instead of 30 days.

I have a valid visitor visa for Canada. I am currently outside of Canada. Can I travel to Canada now?

Most visitors are not allowed to travel to Canada temporarily until the Coronavirus situation has stabilities. You may be eligible under specific exemptions. Click here to see if you fall under any of those exemption categories.

I am stuck in Canada and my status is expiring. What can I do?

The government of Canada understands the unusual circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 travel restrictions globally and limited flight options. You can make an online application for a visitor record to extend your stay inside Canada due to Coronavirus travel restrictions. See the below question regarding "What forms do I need to apply to extend my visa inside Canada ?"

Can I extend my stay inside Canada during the Coronavirus period?

Temporary residents who are currently in Canada are able to apply to extend their status online if they need to extend their status. A temporary resident who has applied to extend their status is allowed to remain in Canada until a decision is made on their new application, even if their initial status expires while they are waiting for that decision. This is called implied status.

What forms do I need to apply to extend my visa inside Canada?

You need to complete form IMM 5708 “Application to Change Conditions, Extend my Stay or Remain in Canada as a Visitor or Temporary Resident Permit Holder” along with other supporting documents and proof of payment. Check your eligibility and related information on this page: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/application/application-forms-guides/guide-5551-applying-change-conditions-extend-your-stay-canada.html

The document checklist for this application can be downloaded from here.

Until when are the travel restrictions in place to travel to Canada?

Currently, the government has announced that from April 09 until April 29, 2020, the travel restrictions to Canada are in place. If you are not on the exemption list (Click here for the full details) you will not be able to travel to Canada – even if you have a valid visa.

I already applied for a visa before the travel restrictions and need to travel to Canada due to essential purposes and/or am on the exemption list. How can I find out the status of my application?

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. To the government directly as per the below address and explain your situation including your application number and why you believe it is crucial for you to travel to Canada.

I have sponsored my family/spouse who is overseas. Can they travel to Canada?

If you had already submitted your application prior to the COVID-19 shutdown, your family may be eligible to receive a visa to travel to Canada to be with you. Certain eligibility criteria need to be met. The overseas and local Canadian government offices are prioritizing such family reunification cases and are processing on a high priority basis.

What do I need to travel to Canada during the COVID-19 travel restrictions?

Your status needs to be on the exemption list (Click here for the exemption list) and you need to pass a health check by the airline if you are boarding a flight. Again when you arrive in Canada your health will be checked at the airport and you must isolate for 14 days inside Canada even if you have no symptoms. Only if you are working in essential services will you be exempt from the isolation requirements. All travelers have to show that they have a quarantine plan when planning to arrive in Canada. This is mandatory.

Who are immediate family members of Canadian citizens / permanent residents who may be exempt from travel restrictions?

  • Spouse or Common-law partner
  • Dependent child
  • A dependent child of a dependent child
  • Parent or step-parent
  • Guardian or tutor

*** See point # ___ below for detailed exemptions for family members of Canadians planning to travel to Canada.

*****Who is exempt from the travel restrictions from Canada? Am I allowed to travel to Canada?

Here is the updated exemption list issued by the Canadian government for travelers to Canada. If you fall under any of these categories you may be eligible to travel to Canada during the Coronavirus period:

You are a:

  • Canadian Citizen
  • Canadian Permanent Resident
  • Protected Person (i.e. designated conventional refugee)

Visitors:

  • You are an immediate family member of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and are traveling to Canada for non-tourism related purposes
  • You have been given written authorization from the Government of Canada to re-unite with an immediate family member inside of Canada who is a non-Canadian
  • Transiting passenger (not leaving the airport)
  • Member of the Canadian military, visiting forces or family member
  • An accredited diplomat or family member of an organization such as NATO, the United Nations or other organizations.
  • Air or Marine crew
  • Traveling from the USA to Canada who has only been in the USA or Canada in the past 14 days and coming for essential purposes
  • You have been invited b the Minister of Health for the purposes of Coronavirus assistance
  • You will be making medical deliveries
  • Your presence in Canada is of national interest, as per the opinion of the Minister of Immigration, Foreign Affairs, or Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Department.

International Students:

  • You have received an approval letter from an overseas embassy for your study permit application. This approval letter should be dated on or before March 18, 2020
  • You currently hold a valid study permit but are temporarily outside of Canada (* you will need a valid visa to travel back to Canada. A study permit is not a visa/travel document.)

Temporary Foreign Workers:

  • All temporary workers are exempt if they are coming to work for an essential purpose/business (all workers will need to pass health checks). The employer should be operational during the Coronavirus period in order for the worker to be allowed to travel to Canada.

 I am an international student but cannot travel to Canada to start my classes for the spring semester. What are my options?

The government of Canada and educational institutions have allowed students to take 50% of their programs online while outside of Canada – if they cannot travel to Canada before classes begin.

Will my post-graduate work permit be affected by the COVID-19?

No. If you are outside of Canada and were unable to attend classes, you can take 50% of your program online as per the updated government regulations. Also, students inside of Canada continuing their studies will not be affected as many programs have switched to online platforms. The temporary disruptions of school during COVID-19 should not negatively impact the duration of your post-graduate work permit.

I received an invitation through IEC. Will my work permit be processed?

Not for the time being. New invitations are on hold and work permit applications are also temporarily on hold until further notice.

Can I apply on paper for the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program?

No. This has been temporarily suspended and all applications should be scanned and sent electronically.

My document validity is expiring. Can I apply to extend it?

It most cases, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government of Canada offices are being very supportive and making exceptions and extensions – as long as the applicant has followed the regulations. (Example: visas, permits, LMIA’s, nomination certificates, etc.)

 Am I eligible for the CERB or EI if I am an international student or worker?

You may be eligible. The Government of Canada has announced changes to benefit workers by changing some Employment Insurance (EI) eligibility requirements as well as by creating the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). International students and graduates, as well as international workers (migrant workers, nominees, endorsees), are eligible for both programs, as long as they meet minimum hours and other requirements outlined in the federal criteria.

Update on Temporary Foreign Worker Application
Processing :

For all employers availing of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, the Government of Canada will be extending the period of validity of a labor market impact assessment from 6 to 9 months, to allow employers more time to identify candidates and bring them to Canada.

For employers of workers in the low-wage stream, a three-year pilot will be in place, allowing the maximum duration of Labour Market Impact Assessments to increase from 1 to 2 years.

For employers of workers in occupations related to agriculture and food processing, removing minimum recruitment requirements for the next 6 months (i.e. until October 31, 2020) and offering priority processing.

The Government of Canada will accelerate the name change process, reducing the processing time from five to one business day to allow an employer to switch candidates.

Employers are responsible for extraordinary costs incurred to meet the public health requirements for temporary foreign workers. If there are any additional measures to support employers, the Federal Government will provide information on such measures.

Currently, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) is currently prioritizing the Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA) of the following 10 National Occupational Classification Codes for migrant workers (Temporary Foreign Workers):

  • 6331 – Butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers – retail and wholesale
  • 7511 – Transport Truck drivers
  • 8252 – Agricultural service contractors, farm supervisors, and specialized livestock workers
  • 8431 – General farmworkers
  • 8432 – Nursery and greenhouse workers
  • 8611 – Harvesting laborers
  • 9462 – Industrial butchers and meat cutters, poultry preparers and related workers
  • 9463 – Fish and seafood plant workers
  • 9617 – Labourers in food, beverage, and associated products processing
  • 9618 – Labourers in fish and seafood processing
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