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Temporary foreign workers are exempt from COVID-19 travel restrictions


On March 29, 2020, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) posted new online guidelines regarding "How the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is affecting immigration, refugees, citizenship and passport services".


The guidelines deal with a number of important topics relating to the services offered by IRCC and how these have been affected by the measures implemented by the Canadian government to tackle the spread of COVID-19. The topics discussed in these guidelines include:

  • Travel restrictions and exemptions​

  • Workers, students and visitors

  • Immigration applicants

  • Refugees, claimants and sponsors

  • Canadians and citizenship applicants

  • Passport and travel documents

  • IRCC offices and VACs

  • Biometrics

  • Permanent residents


One issue that appears to have been finally clarified by IRCC in these guidelines, is whether all temporary foreign workers are exempt from the government's travel restrictions. Prior government announcements and the text of the most recent Orders in Council appeared to indicate that this would be the case. However, IRCC's Program Delivery Instructions published last week, contained language that made the exemptions to foreign workers more restrictive and limited to those who had already been approved for a work permit by the time that the travel ban came into place, or new workers employed in "critical industries".


The text of the new guidelines reads as follows (emphasis added):


Temporary foreign workers


All temporary foreign workers are exempt from travel restrictions and can travel to Canada by air or land.


If you’re travelling by air, you need to pass a health check conducted by airlines before you’re allowed to board your 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.

This indicates that both foreign workers whose permit had already been approved by the date of implementation of the travel restrictions, as well as new work permit applicants, are exempt from the COVID-19 travel ban.


The situation is different for international students, who are only exempt from travel restrictions if they have "a valid study permit or were approved for a study permit on or before March 18, 2020".


#COVID19, #IRCC, #workpermit, #workers, #travelban

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