Exceptions To The Travel Ban, Including For Students, Temporary Foreign Workers And Permanent Residents
- The Government of Canada is working to ensure the safe return of Canadian citizens, Canadian permanent residents and their immediate families from abroad, and to ensuring that they follow the 14-day self-isolation measure upon arrival in the country.
- The travel restriction measures announced by the Prime Minister on March 16, 2020, will impact many people who are not able to travel to Canada for the time being.
- We are taking a whole-of-government approach, working with our counterparts in the provinces and territories as well as international partners, to continue to closely monitor COVID‑19 and any impacts on people and our operations.
- The Government of Canada is providing an update on travel restrictions put in place to stem the spread of COVID-19.
- Exemptions to the air travel restrictions will also apply to foreign nationals who have already committed to working, studying or making Canada their home, including:
- seasonal agricultural workers, fish/seafood workers, caregivers and all other temporary foreign workers;
- international students who hold a valid study permit or had been approved for a study permit prior the travel restrictions taking effect on March 18, 2020; and,
- permanent resident applicants who had been approved for permanent residence before the travel restrictions came into effect on March 18, 2020, but who had not yet travelled to Canada.
- In addition, a temporary modification is being made to the Labour Market Impact Assessment process, as the required 2-week recruitment period will be waived for the next 6 months.
- Allowing foreign workers to enter Canada recognizes their vital importance to the Canadian economy, including food safety and security of Canadians and the success of Canadian food producers.
- The arrival of farm workers and fish/seafood workers is essential to ensure planting and harvesting activities can take place. There will always be jobs available for Canadians who wish to work on farms and at food processing plants. To protect public health, these workers will be isolated for 14 days.
- Students who had already been approved for a study permit by March 18, 2020, will also be able to come to Canada so that they will be ready to start their studies as soon as classrooms re-open.
- We also want to avoid having international students with valid study permits caught stranded as a result of the travel restrictions put in place on March 18, 2020. These individuals call Canada home, and were looking to return to resume their studies.
On March 16, 2020, the Government announced travel restrictions for people presenting symptoms and foreign nationals, with a number of exceptions including to reunite immediate family members, individuals with protected persons status, accredited diplomats to Canada and their family, and when in the national interest. These measures applied to all air travel, unless the individual was in Canada or the United States in the last 14 days.
On March 17, 2020, the Government announced further travel restrictions for the Canada-U.S. border, restricting travel to essential purposes only. These measures aim to ensure that critical services such as food supplies, health and emergency services and border community movement can continue, while preventing travel for tourism purposes. These measures came into force on March 21, 2020, for travel between Canada and the United States in all transportation modes (air, land and marine).
On March 20, the Government also announced additional exemptions on the travel restrictions to authorize temporary foreign workers, students and new permanent residents to travel to Canada.
Temporary Foreign Workers:
- In 2019, IRCC issued approximately 405,000 work permits. This is a 20% increase compared to 2018.
- The number of foreign nationals with valid work permits currently in Canada is approximately 835,000. This population will decrease as a result of the travel ban plus work permits scheduled to expire in the coming weeks and months. For example, some 100,000 work permits will expire by the end of May.
- Employers and provinces and territories are concerned about the viability of the agriculture and food processing sector, which is a major employer of foreign workers. In 2019:
- Approximately 56,000 foreign workers were issued work permits to support crop planting and harvesting,
- Approximately 4,000 foreign workers supported food processing, and
- An additional 2,500 work permits were issued to transport truck drivers.
- Combined, these occupations accounted for 15% of all work permits issued in 2019. While relatively small as a share of all work permits issued, a lack of workers in this sector will affect businesses and could compromise Canada’s food security, as industry is currently gearing up for the spring planting season and the start of fishing season. Without immediate access to foreign workers, the 2020 growing and harvesting season is at risk.
- About half of workers in this sector normally arrive in Canada by the end of April, with the remainder arriving by the end of June. By way of reference, in March of 2019, approximately 6,000 work permits became effective in these occupations and nearly 13,000 work permits became effective in April 2019, demonstrating the significant volumes of workers who seek to enter Canada at the start of the spring season.
- International students contribute over $21B per year to the Canadian economy – greater than exports of auto parts, lumber or aircrafts.
- In 2019, the Department issued more than 415,000 study permits to international students, including extensions (13% increase over 2018).
- In 2019, there were 828,356 international students in Canada studying from primary to post-secondary levels (in 2015, there were 495, 590 students in Canada).
- Former international students are also often strong candidates to apply to stay permanently. In fact, in 2018, nearly 58,521 former international students transitioned to permanent residence, more than ever before.
- At present, over 69,900 persons hold permanent resident visas overseas. This number continues to grow as applications continue to be processed.
- This inventory includes skilled immigrants, spouses and family members that would be reunited with their Canadian relative, privately sponsored refugees, and others.
- IRCC is responding to labour market challenges with high levels of permanent immigration, options for hiring temporary workers and international students, and innovative initiatives and pilot programs that address specific needs in an industry or region.
- The Government also works closely with provinces and territories, economic development partners, and industry to attract and retain economic immigrants, and ensure that all areas of the country benefit from immigration.
Prepared by: Emmanuelle Deault-Bonin, Director, 613-415-4737
Approved by: Natasha Kim, AADM Strategic and Program Policy
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