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Canada clarifies exemptions to travel ban for international students, foreign workers and others


On March 26, 2020, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada issued updated instructions regarding the government's travel ban and the instituted exemptions to this. The full text of the instructions can be accessed here.


We have reproduced below the travel restriction exemptions that apply to international students, temporary foreign workers, approved permanent residence applicants and certain family members of Canadian citizens, permanent residents and temporary residents in Canada. There are other exemptions for accredited officials, protected persons, transit passengers, crew members, Canadian citizens travelling on a foreign passport and national interest exemptions.


Immediate Family Members of Canadian Citizens and Permanent Residents*


A foreign national who is an immediate family member of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident is exempt from the travel restrictions and permitted to travel to Canada if they have the required travel documents.


The definition of immediate family members set out in Interim Order No. 2 is broader than that in IRPA (spouses and common-law partners, their dependent children and any dependent children of their dependent children) and has been expanded to include

  • parents or step-parents

  • a parent’s or step-parent’s spouse or common-law partner

  • a guardian or tutor


In respect of a parent, dependent child is defined in IRPR as a child who

(a) has one of the following relationships with the parent, namely,

  • (i) is the biological child of the parent, if the child has not been adopted by a person other than the spouse or common-law partner of the parent, or

  • (ii) is the adopted child of the parent; and

(b) is in one of the following situations of dependency, namely,

  • (i) is less than 22 years of age and is not a spouse or common-law partner, or

  • (ii) is 22 years of age or older and has depended substantially on the financial support of the parent since before attaining the age of 22 years and is unable to be financially self-supporting due to a physical or mental condition.


Family Reunification - Includes Family of Temporary Residents


The interim order also exempts foreign nationals whose travel to Canada is authorized in writing by an officer designated under IRPA or an employee of Global Affairs Canada (GAC) for the purpose of reuniting immediate family members.


The expanded definition of immediate family member described above continues to apply.


In order for a foreign national to be eligible under this exemption, there must be two or more foreign nationals who are immediate family members of each other, and authorizing one or more of them to enter Canada must allow them to be reunited.


While the foreign national’s immediate family member must be a resident in Canada, that family member does not have to be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.


This means that a foreign national with an immediate family member residing in Canada as a worker, visitor, student or protected person would be included in this exemption.


An adult child of a person residing in Canada may be eligible under this exemption. This is because, while the child is not an immediate family member of the parent under the definition above, the parent is an immediate family member of the child.


International Students


The interim order exempts foreign nationals who held a valid Canadian study permit or were issued a letter of invitation dated on or before March 18, 2020, the date on which the first interim order came into force.


These international students were already enrolled at a designated learning institution (DLI) in Canada or had been accepted by a DLI and made arrangements to come to Canada to study before the travel restrictions were put in place.


These foreign nationals can self-identify to airlines at the point of boarding that they are exempt under this provision by presenting

  • a valid study permit, or

  • a letter of introduction from IRCC dated on or before March 18, 2020


Temporary Workers


The interim order exempts certain foreign nationals who are authorized to travel to Canada to work.


This includes temporary workers who were already established in Canada or who had made arrangements to come to Canada to work before the travel restrictions were put in place [March 18, 2020]. It also includes new workers who are coming to Canada to be employed in critical industries, such as agriculture, food processing, health, transportation and emergency services.


These foreign nationals can self-identify to airlines at the point of boarding that they are exempt under this provision by presenting

  • a valid work permit, or

  • a letter of introduction from IRCC


Permit-exempt work

The interim order provides for a number of scenarios where the foreign national is not required to obtain a work permit:

  • providers of emergency services, including medical services, for the protection or preservation of life or property (includes firefighters)

  • students in a health field, including as a medical elective or clinical clerk at a medical teaching institution in Canada, for the primary purpose of acquiring training, if they have written approval from the body that regulates that field

  • foreign nationals seeking to enter and remain in Canada solely to become a member of a crew of a means of transportation, including a vessel engaged in international transportation


Permanent Resident Visa Holders


The interim order exempts foreign nationals who have been approved for permanent residence and who were eligible to travel to Canada to become landed permanent residents on or before March 18, 2020, the date on which the first interim order came into force.


Many of these foreign nationals had already made arrangements to settle in Canada before the travel restrictions were put in place. Facilitating their entry for the purposes of landing contributes to meeting immediate family reunification and labour market needs and reduces the accumulation of an inventory of approved permanent residents who will need to travel to Canada once restrictions are lifted.


These foreign nationals can self-identify to airlines at the point of boarding that they are exempt under this provision by presenting

  • a permanent resident visa (nationals from visa-required countries only), or

  • a COPR document (all foreign nationals)


*The above has been reproduced from IRCC's Travel restriction measures: COVID-19 program delivery


#IRCC, #travelban, #exemptions, #internationalstudents, #foreignworkers, #PR

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