Canada COVID-19 lockdown tightens
anadian borders are now closed to travelers who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. The announcement was made by Prime Minister Trudeau on March 16 in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Exceptions are diplomats, air crew, and U.S. citizens. The latter exception for U.S. citizens recognizes the tight integration of North American supply chains between Canada and the USA to enable shipments of goods to cross the Canada- U.S. border. Referred to as “essential services”, individuals who, by definition of their occupation, provide services that both countries have come to rely on, are exempted from the ban. These include diplomats and airline crew members.
The rapid global spread of the COVID-19 virus has prompted Canada’s federal government, and all provincial and territorial governments, to shut much of the country down, and encourage Canadians to stay at home to contain the spread of the virus. Public, sporting, business, conference and entertainment events are all cancelled. Canadians are asked not to attend gatherings of more than about 50 people, and if possible to just stay at home. The streets reflect an unearthly quiet. Canadians abroad are asked to return home while they still can. Everyone who travels outside Canada needs to self-isolate for at least 14 days once back in Canada. Similar measures are being enacted in other countries as well.
What does this mean to me?
If you are working with us on applying for any type of visa or sponsorship, we will continue to work on your case without interruption. If you have been granted a TRV (visitor visa) you will not be able to come to Canada as a visitor until the ban has been lifted. However, we are aware that direct family members will be allowed to travel to Canada to reunite with their loved ones, but are unclear about what situations apply. Our information is limited to only what has been announced.
We are unclear about the Canadian government’s position on study permit holders and work permits holders who were expecting to travel to Canada. What we do know is that schools will be closed for at least three weeks from mid-March. Many employers are asking their employees to work from home.
If you have been granted a permanent residence visa and have not booked your ticket to “land” in Canada, please delay your arrival in Canada to a time when you know things are back to normal. There are only four international airports open for international flights as of March 18. Pearson International in Toronto; Pierre Elliot Trudeau International in Montreal; Vancouver International and Calgary International. The line-ups and testing upon arrival will be long and rigorous. As noted above, every international traveler, Canadian or not, must self-quarantine for at least two weeks.
Notice received on March 19, 2020
The following is an Important Notice from the Government of Canada
Travel for the purpose of obtaining immigration services is non-essential. If you are in Canada, and are seeking to travel to the border in order to make an application for a work permit, study permit or permanent residence, you are asked to consider Federal and Provincial guidelines for self-isolation and social distancing. Do not travel to the border for these services until the further notice. If you are currently in Canada as a visitor, student or worker, you can apply online to IRCC to extend your temporary resident status. By doing so, you can continue to stay, study or work in Canada while your application is being processed. This is referred to as implied status, and as long as you apply before your current document expires, your current immigration authorizations and conditions remain unchanged. In-Canada services are available through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
Who cannot board Canada-bound flights
Canada’s Minister of Transportation, Marc Garneau has issued an Interim Order on who can and cannot board flights bound for Canada. The rules clarify how to deal with significant risk, direct or indirect to aviation safety or to the safety of the public:
- Persons who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents may not board an airline flight to come to Canada. This includes stateless persons;
- An air carrier must conduct, at the boarding gate, a health check of every person prior to their boarding an aircraft for a flight to Canada;
- Air carriers may not allow persons to board if they exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 in their answers to questions or in the air carrier’s observation, if they say they have COVID-19, or if they refuse to answer questions.
What happens when COVID-19 ends?
The difficult COVID-19 pandemic will end, we all hope with a minimum of loss of lives and livelihoods. Once it does, Canada is on track to look for as many as one million new immigrants to the country in the next three years. We are working from home (as we often do) throughout the global isolation period. If you’re thinking about Canada, get the process started early. If you’re serious, tell us about yourself by filling out this secure form. Let’s see if there is a viable pathway for you to continue life in Canada.