Immigration Update: Covid-19 Impacts (March 19, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. EDT)

During this unusual time, CILF – Caruso Guberman Appleby, is here to continue to support you with respect to all of your immigration needs. We are here to answer your questions and keep you informed. We will provide updates as soon as they are available.

Our firm is well positioned to continue focus on your immigration needs. In particular, review your temporary foreign worker employee files to ensure that those who require new work permits file extensions in a timely manner.

We continue to press for more certainty regarding the details of the measures taken by the Canadian government to restrict travel to Canada. Here are the latest updates:

  1. The Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair announced yesterday at a press conference that foreign nationals with valid temporary resident status (work permit or study permit)  will be able to enter Canada, however, they remain subject to travel restrictions announced Monday, that came into effect at noon EST yesterday, March 18, 2020. This means they must either be an immediate family member (spouse, common-law partner or dependent child under 22) of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident or have been resident in the U.S. for the last 14 days. If any of your employees on a work permit are currently outside Canada and unable to return, please reach out to our office to discuss next steps. He also announced that foreign workers providing essential services will be allowed entry, however, no details regarding the definition of essential services are available yet.
  2. IRCC has sent a communication to stakeholders confirming that flagpoling (going to the Canada-U.S. land border to make an immigration application or land as a permanent resident) will not be permitted until further notice. Individuals should apply for extensions online. Note, however, that the processing time for online extensions is 3-4 months.
  3. The IRCC Call Centre is unavailable until further notice. We encourage all foreign nationals with questions regarding their immigration status or ability to travel in and out of Canada to reach out to their immigration lawyer at CILF.
  4. All individuals with a biometrics instruction letter now automatically have 90 days from the date of the letter, instead of 30, to complete the biometrics requirement. Applications can be refused if the applicant does not provide biometrics before the deadline.
  5. Transport Canada’s air travel restriction (see yesterday’s update) went into effect yesterday at 12:00 p.m. EDT and it appears that airlines are fully enforcing it. Foreign nationals who are unable to demonstrate that they are not excluded by the restriction risk being denied boarding or even deplaned before takeoff. We strongly recommend that foreign nationals travel with clear documentation establishing their eligibility (for example, a marriage certificate and copy of spouse’s Canadian passport to establish that they are indeed an immediate family member of a Canadian citizen).
  6. Air Canada has announced a dramatic reduction in its flight network until further notice. Given the reduced volume of flights, many travellers will encounter difficulties with booking. All global travel has become significantly more difficult.
  7. CBSA is reminding everyone entering the country to notify a CBSA officer if they have any symptoms including cough, difficulty breathing or an indication of a fever. This is vital to protecting the public health and to the global fight against COVID-19.
  8. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Canada have suspended all routine non-immigrant visa appointments until further notice.
  9. Certain countries have already announced repatriation efforts for their citizens who are currently abroad. Canada has not yet announced such an initiative.
Please contact your lawyer at CILF – Caruso Guberman Appleby for additional details or specific questions.