Studying or Working in Canada during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has affected the immigration procedures of many countries including Canada. However, to those foreign nationals who hope to work or study in Canada in these uncertain times, the path is not impossible. Contact Cohen Brosh Law Offices for individualized immigration advice.

There have been some major changes to the normal way of doing things to accommodate the current situation. This is your guide on some of the biggest recent immigration changes. 

Canada’s Recent Immigration Changes:

  1. Priority for Essential Workers applications
  2. No longer accepting Port-of-Entry immigration applications
  3. Distance Learning and COVID-19 Readiness Plan
  4. All travelers to Canada must use ArriveCAN app

Understanding the new changes

The Government of Canada has had to make some changes.

The Government of Canada has had to make some of these changes to the normal way of doing things to protect the Canadian population while also leaving the borders open and welcoming to foreign nationals who wish to work and study here. For this reason, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is still accepting applications for work and study permits.  All applicants, however, will need to work within the new changes.

Some immigration processing centers in Canada have had to temporarily close due to the pandemic. This has caused massive delays in the processing of applications. These delays should be expected by anyone applying for immigration in Canada.

Canada has also had to implement travel requirements that must be met for anyone to enter the country, including citizens. Foreign nationals can only enter Canada for a small number of reasons now, including being exempt from travel restrictions. Being approved for a temporary work or study permit exempts you from travel restrictions, though you must still comply with safety and medical requirements.

Priority for Essential Workers

Applications from essential workers are now a priority for IRCC. Foreign nationals applying from outside Canada must apply online at this time. You can indicate on your application that you are an essential worker. This can be in the medical/ healthcare sector, or non-medical essential services. You will need to provide proof of your qualifications or experience in the occupation.

Foreign nationals who require a Labour Market Impact Assessment in an essential sector will also be prioritized and the application will not be delayed due to the LMIA and in some cases it will not be required.

When applying as an essential worker outside of Canada, include the National Occupation Classification (NOC) number with your offer of employment to indicate that you are an essential worker. Visit the Government of Canada website for the full list of eligible essential occupations or to find the NOC classification of your occupation. 

Eligible Essential Services: NOC classifications

  • Registered nurses and psychiatric nurses – NOC 3012
  • Specialist physicians- NOC 3111
  • Pharmacists- NOC 3131
  • Home child care providers- NOC 4411
  • Home support workers – NOC 4412
  • Transport truck workers – NOC 7511
  • General farm workers – NOC 8431
  • Food and beverage processing – NOC 9617

No longer accepting Port-of-Entry applications

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, qualifying foreign nationals had the option to arrive at a Canadian port-of-entry and request temporary residence. The border patrol officer would process the application on the spot and provide entry or deny entry. This was a risky way to apply but still possible. This method has now been closed. Foreign nationals can no longer arrive in Canada without some form of permit or visa.

The only exception to this new port-of-entry application closure is for applicants from the United States. These travelers can be processed at a port-of entry but they must comply with the new rules.

 Those entering Canada from the U.S. must:

  • Quarantine for 14 days
  • Have a valid job offer from an open business

Meet all other requirements to apply at a port of entry

Note: Visit the Government of Canada website or contact Cohen Brosh Law Offices for more information on the full pathway eligibility requirements and restrictions.

Distance Learning and COVID-19 Readiness Plan

Distance learning at a Canadian institution during the pandemic

Foreign nationals applying to study in Canada can now be granted a permit for distance learning at a Canadian institution. Prior to the pandemic, a foreign national could not be granted a permit to study at a Canadian institution online remotely because it meant they would not have to be in Canada to participate in the program. Since the pandemic, many Designated Learning Institutions (DLI) have had to adapt and introduce more remote programs temporarily. Foreign nationals can now receive a study permit for a Canadian institution while completing the program in their home country.

It is necessary that the applicant do their due diligence to ensure that the study program is one that normally requires in-class learning. Also, keep in mind that the school may still require the student to be in Canada in the future to complete the program when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. An approved study permit will not guarantee you can later enter Canada to finish your program. Border officers at the ports-of-entry (i.e., airports) have the discretion to make the final decision on whether or not the study permit holder is eligible to enter Canada.

COVID-19 Readiness Plan

Qualifying applicants who intend to travel to study in Canada physically at this time must be applying to study at a DLI with a COVID-19 Readiness Plan. Institutions without a readiness plan cannot accept international students. You may need to contact your school directly to find out if they have a readiness plan in place.

A readiness plan is a system to ensure the safety of international and domestic students. It includes accessible safety and regulatory information as well as guidelines such as mandatory quarantine. Visit the Government of Canada website to see if your institution has an approved COVID-19 Readiness Plan in place.

All travelers to Canada must use ArriveCAN app

All travelers to Canada must now download and submit all travel information into the ArriveCAN app. This is mandatory and must be done within 72 hours of arrival in Canada. It is designed to track and control efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19. It is an offence under the Quarantine Act to avoid the use of the app or to input false, inaccurate or misleading information. There are penalties and fines in place for all travellers who do not comply.

The ArriveCAN app is free. Any fees or payments for using the app may be fraud. The system is free for all users from all countries.

In conclusion 

If you are unsure of whether or not you can travel to Canada at this time, you can consult the tool on the Government of Canada website. This series of questions will give you an idea if you are eligible to travel at this time. It is not, however, a definitive guide. Contact an RCIC or immigration lawyer for detailed information and guidance on your immigration case.

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