Canadian Immigration in the time of Corona
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has imposed an extensive temporary travel ban. At approximately 1:40 p.m. Monday, March 16, Trudeau, who is in self-imposed exile due to his wife’s positive COVID 19 diagnosis, closed Canada’s borders to non- citizens in a bid to slow the coronavirus in Canada:
Canadian Permanent Residents are exempt;
U.S. citizens are exempt, at least for now. According to Trudeau: the “level of integration is quite particular,” and government needs more time to make sure it is ‘doing the right thing with regards to Americans’.
Trudeau also indicated that exceptions will be carved out for diplomats, Air crew and people with family in Canada.
Commencing Wednesday, March 18, international flights will be restricted to four Canadian airports: Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. However, Trudeau indicated that this restriction does not apply to trade and business flights, nor does it apply to flight from the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean, Saint Pierre and Miquelon.
The Canadian government is also urging Canadians abroad to come home while they still can. The Canadian government has not offered assistance in repatriating Canadians but may establish a fund to help with the financial cost.
In addition to the border restrictions, Immigration Refugees & Citizenship Canada or “IRCC” has closed multiple visa posts abroad. Those open will work with essential staff only.
Needless to say, closed borders and reduced IRCC processing will impact all types of immigration matters. For those with pending Canadian immigration applications, IRCC has announced that it will put measures in place that allow impacted applicants additional time to comply with immigration requirements, when appropriate. Unfortunately, IRCC has not indicated which situations will benefit from its leniency measures.
Our office will remain open, albeit at reduced capacity, for the foreseeable future. We recommend, to the extent possible, that you take a proactive approach to your immigration matters. For instance, where necessary, please notify our office well in advance of deadlines, that you will be unable to comply with, so that we can inform authorities and request extensions or postponements on your behalf.
This update has been compiled with the latest available information for the general information of Border Law clients and other interested parties. This Update is not comprehensive and should not be relied upon without appropriate legal advice.