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The Government of Canada is working closely with partners in Canada and globally to respond to the current outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. This includes exerting strict control over the global movement of people.

Canada has responded by placing broad restrictions regarding who is permitted to enter Canada, including employees of Canadian companies or those of foreign companies coming to Canada to work.

The details of these restrictions are important because they have a direct impact on employees who are subject to layoffs or termination of employment. It will also have an impact on employers who are attempting to secure the services of foreign workers while working through the COVID-19 crisis.

The following outlines the most important things to know about employee travel during COVID-19:

1. FOREIGN WORKERS AND STUDENTS CAN STILL COME TO CANADA

The Government of Canada has confirmed that foreign nationals who have a valid work or study permit may resume travel to Canada.

This means that foreigners with valid status in Canada in relation to work or study are permitted to fly or drive into Canada. This is an important announcement as foreign workers make up a significant piece of Canada’s labour market.

2. IF YOU ARE APPROVED FOR A WORK PERMIT OR PERMANENT RESIDENCY YOU CAN TRAVEL TO CANADA DESPITE COVID-19

Immigration has confirmed that the Canada Border Services Agency will permit a range of individuals to travel to and enter Canada, even if they don’t have a work or study permit in hand. This includes the following individuals:

  • Those with a Port of Entry letter indicating approval for a work permit
  • Those with a study permit that has been approved before March 18, 2020
  • Foreigners who were approved for permanent residency prior to March 18, 2020

3. FOREIGN WORKERS ENTERING CANADA SHOULD BE PREPARED TO PROVE THEY STILL HAVE A JOB

Immigration is aware of the current challenges to the labour market and that many employees have been laid off or had their employment terminated. They accordingly do not want foreign workers to come to Canada if they no longer have work.

Individuals should, therefore, be prepared to discuss the status of their current roles and whether their role has been impacted by COVID-19.

Employees would be wise to have up-to-date letters from their employers confirming their employment and what, if any, impact COVID-19 has had on their position. This can help to reduce the chance that Canada Border Services Agency officers will refuse foreign workers entry to Canada on the basis that their services are no longer required because of the current circumstances.

4. YOU WILL NEED TO SELF-ISOLATE UNLESS YOU ARE AN ESSENTIAL WORKER

Upon arrival in Canada, your health will be assessed when you speak to a Canada Border Services Officer.

Regardless of whether you are exhibiting observable symptoms, you will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. This is mandatory for all travellers, and the authorities are enforcing this by implementing house checks and serious sanction/penalties for non-compliance.

The only exception from the requirement to self-isolate is for those who are deemed to be “essential” workers. This will be determined on a case-by-case basis considering a range of factors, including the importance of the work to support urgent economic/health matters.

Those subject to self-isolation are required to have a comprehensive plan regarding the following:

  • How they will obtain medical care if they become sick
  • How they will buy groceries
  • How they will access other essential services, as necessary

For further information on this or other matters relating to employment and how termination of employment or layoffs may impact employees during the COVID-19 era, please contact Toronto immigration lawyers, Sultan Lawyers at mlahert@sultanlawyers.com or 416-214-5111.


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