Travel restrictions amid COVID-19: Exemptions for specific groups, foreign nationals now in place
Approved permanent residents, temporary foreign workers and some international students who haven’t yet landed in Canada are now allowed to enter the country.
In an earlier update on travel restrictions amid COVID-19, the Government of Canada had announced that specific groups will be allowed to travel to the country despite the restrictions. The exemptions are now in place.
According to the government website, individuals travelling by air need to pass a health check conducted by airlines before they are allowed to board the flight. Anyone who shows symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter Canada by air. “When you arrive in Canada we’ll assess your health before you leave the port of entry. You must isolate for 14 days even if you have no symptoms. This is mandatory. 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,” reads the message.
At the time when the exemptions were first announced, they were to include seasonal agricultural workers, fish/seafood workers, caregivers and all other temporary foreign workers; international students who held a valid study permit, or had been approved for a study permit, when the travel restrictions took effect on March 18, 2020; and
applicants who had been approved for permanent residence before the travel restrictions were announced on March 16, 2020, but who had not yet travelled to Canada.
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marco Mendicino had said that allowing foreign workers to enter Canada recognizes their vital importance to the Canadian economy, including food security for Canadians and the success of Canadian food producers.
“Our government will continue to take the measures necessary to protect the health and safety of Canadians, including putting in place social distancing, isolation and travel restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Today’s announcement will ensure both a robust response to addressing the spread of the virus and that our farmers, fishers and other producers have the workers they need, when they need them, to strengthen Canada’s food security and provide other vital services,” said Mendicino.
A temporary modification has also been made to the Labour Market Impact Assessment process for agriculture and food processing employers, as the required two-week recruitment period will be waived for the next six months. Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough says, “Temporary foreign workers are important for sectors with critical labour needs – notably agriculture. These exemptions will provide the short-term workforce support necessary to maintain our high-standard levels of trade, commerce, and food security.”
In addition, the maximum allowable employment duration for workers in the low-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program has been increased from one to two years. Officials say that this will improve flexibility and reduce the administrative burden for employers.
These exemptions follow others that were announced earlier for,
- foreign nationals travelling at the invitation of the Canadian government for a purpose related to the containment of COVID-19
- close family members of Canadian citizens
- close family members of Canadian permanent residents
- a person who is authorized, in writing, by a consular officer of the Government of Canada to enter Canada for the purpose of reuniting immediate family members
- a person registered as an Indian under the Indian Act
- accredited diplomats and family members (including NATO, those under the United Nations Headquarters Agreement, other organizations)
- any foreign national, or group of foreign nationals, whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Minister of Public Safety
- members of the Canadian military, visiting forces and their family members
- transiting passengers
For the latest COVID-19 updates, please visit the Government of Canada website.