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COVID-19’s Impact on Foreign Workers

By May 7, 2020June 9th, 2020No Comments

The Government of Canada’s evolving response to COVID-19 has meant regular changes to its program delivery. For foreign workers, this has meant balancing Canada’s need for essential workers and the desire to contain the spread of the virus as much as possible.

A serious of Orders-in-Council have been issued that directly impact foreign workers. We have summarized many of the important points below. That said, if you require information specific to your unique circumstances, you may contact our office to book an appointment by phone/webconference.

At the outset, anyone seeking to work in Canada must already have a work permit or approval letter; otherwise, they will be unable to board a plane to Canada. IRCC has advised that individuals are currently unable to apply to for a work permit at a Port of Entry unless entering from the U.S. and otherwise allowed to do so pursuant to Order-in-Council 2020-0185 (Minimizing the Risk of Exposure of COVID-19 in Canada – Prohibition of Entry into Canada from the United States).

As with all travellers to Canada, temporary workers seeking to enter Canada must undergo mandatory health checks and must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival unless expressly exempt from this requirement.

The below guidelines are provided as a general guide, and will inevitably be subject to change depending on the government’s evolving response to the crisis.

Exemptions to mandatory 14-day self-isolation period

Current measures provide that the following work permit-exempt foreign nationals are not subject to the travel restrictions and may not be required to self-isolate. These work permit exemptions are likely to be prioritised by Border Security Officers having being identified as critical for health, safety, and food security reasons:

  • – emergency service providers who protect or preserve life or property, including medical service providers and firefighters;
  • – health sector students, including persons working as a medical elective or clinical clerk at a Canadian medical teaching institution;
  • – marine transport workers who are essential for the movement of goods;
  • – persons entering Canada to deliver, maintain or repair medically necessary equipment or devices;
  • – persons entering Canada to make medical delivery of cells, blood and blood products, tissues, organs, etc.

Even if one may fall within these exemptions, it is currently advised that foreign workers present an exemption form upon arrival to the Port of Entry. Exemption forms must be requested in advance and then completed before travel.

Documents to present to the airline

Foreign workers must present their actual valid work permit document (IMM 1442). If you have been approved for a work permit but have yet to receive the actual work permit by mail, you may alternatively provide your: a) decision letter; b) port of entry letter; or c) letter of introduction concerning the work permit.

Those letters may come in the form of invitation letters from relevant government or institutional organizations requesting that the worker be permitted inside Canada. Other acceptable documents can include letters confirming recognition of credentials.

Employment must still be available

Upon arrival to Canada, you may be asked whether your employer is still operating or whether the job offer is still valid. If the job is no longer offered, a work permit application will be refused at the Port of Entry. Border Officers are actively confirming whether an offer has been withdrawn or an LMIA suspended before finalizing any work permit application.

Prioritized LMIA processing

ESDC is processing LMIA processing for certain NOC codes, having determined them to be essential and critical for Canada at this time. Currently, those job positions concern retail and wholesale food processing, transport truck drivers, agricultural workers, among several others.




Author Monique

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