Immigration Update: Covid-19 Impacts (March 20, 2020 at 3:30pm. EDT)

Here are the latest Canadian immigration updates from the last 24 hours:

  1. The Canada-U.S. land border closure announced earlier this week is expected to take effect at 11:59 p.m. EDT and will remain in effect for 30 days. All non-essential travel will be restricted. “Non-essential” is defined to mean travel for tourism or recreational purposes. Trade and commerce will continue. Work permit holders may need to demonstrate that their work is “essential”. We recommend that individuals needing to enter Canada for business/work reach out to our office so we can prepare a submission for their entry.
  2. Ontario has announced that the validity of expired/expiring driver’s licences, Ontario photo cards, licence plate validation and health cards will be automatically extended until further notice. This automatic extension is already in effect and individuals can continue using expired cards. Additionally, the Government of Ontario has announced plans to waive the 90 day waiting period for OHIP eligibility applicable to those were former residents and are re-establishing residency in Ontario. Regulatory approval is required to waive the 90-day waiting period and we expect additional details in the next few days.
  3. As all Service Canada locations are closed until further notice, applications for a Social Insurance Number must be done by mail. In anticipation of significantly increased demand, ESDC has asked applicants to only submit an application for a SIN by mail if it is urgent. Urgent has not been defined but applicants must indicate the urgency in the application.
  4. Given how quickly the travel restrictions have been announced and rolled out, it is not surprising that we have seen an inconsistent application and enforcement of the restrictions by different officers at different ports of entry. We strongly recommend that anyone (including Canadian citizens and permanent residents) looking to leave or return to Canada contact an immigration lawyer for advice before doing so.
  5. IRCC’s in-Canada services requiring in-person attendance have largely been suspended. Landings have been suspended until April 13. If your permanent resident visa is expiring before then, please reach out to an immigration lawyer for assistance. Generally speaking, a permanent resident visa cannot be extended after it has been issued. It is unclear what impact, if any, the outbreak will have on processing times for applications filed online (Express Entry, online extensions, etc.). Given the increased reliance on online applications, we suspect that processing times will increase.