Canada Immigration and COVID-19

The situation with regard to COVID-19 and Canadian immigration matters remains fluid, and in many ways, undefined. In addition to other travel bans as set out in our prior alerts, the United States and Canada agreed today to restrict all “non-essential” travel between the two countries.

Unfortunately, there appears as yet to be any authoritative or legal interpretation of the term ‘essential’. Other than ordinary visitors, there is no clear-cut advice on whether U.S. workers can enter Canada. There is also no definitive time frame set for the implementation of the new ban (though it would be very soon – likely within hours, but at most, a day or two).

There are varying reports on the issues. One unconfirmed report indicates that Canada’s Minister of Public Safety has indicated that foreign workers will not be banned provided that they have been in the United States for the last 14 days.  We stress that this is unconfirmed, but may represent a reasonable approach given that foreign workers are indeed typically ‘essential’, which is why they are needed to work in Canada.

We also reiterate that for now, visa processing offices remain generally open, though in many cases short-staffed or otherwise working below capacity, and as such, subject to obvious delays. We cannot say if this will change, but on the expectation that travel bans will at some point be lifted, those requiring visas would not necessarily wish to terminate their applications, so as to remain in queue.

We will continue to post relevant information as it becomes available.

The information in this article is for general purposes only, and not intended as legal advice for any particular situation.