COVID-19 Pandemic: Update on Canadian Immigration

COVID-19 Pandemic: Update on Canadian Immigration

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization assessed COVID-19 as a pandemic. The Canadian government has unveiled aggressive new measures to contain the coronavirus and this has direct impact on Canadian immigration. This bulletin will provide a summary of the key immigration updates for the period between April 23, 2020 and May 22, 2020.

Travel Ban

On March 20, 2020, the Governor General issued two Orders in Council pursuant to section 58 of the Quarantine Act. The effect of these is the creation of a temporary travel ban on foreign nationals travelling to Canada from overseas (valid until June 30, 2020) and from the United States, unless the foreign nationals meet one of the exemptions to the travel ban. The travel ban applies to travel by land, air and water, and prevents foreign nationals from travelling to Canada for optional or discretionary purposes, such as tourism or recreation. On May 21, 2020, the Government of Canada extended the US travel ban for 30 days until June 21, 2020.

Immigration Applications

Immigration Canada has temporarily paused temporary resident visa and eTA applications until June 9, 2020 unless the applicants can demonstrate that they are travelling to Canada for an essential purpose.

Further, Immigration Canada will continue to process Work Permit and Study Permit applications. However, these applications must be submitted online and not through a visa office. Applicants should expect delays in their applications because most visa offices that process biometrics are currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (“BC PNP”)

On May 19, 2020, BC PNP has issued invitations to apply. However, BC PNP has excluded tourism, hospitality, food and beverage services, retail-related occupations and other select occupations.

For the most recent round of invitations that occurred on May 19, 2020, the minimum score required was 100 points for the Skills Immigration – Skilled Worker category. The minimum score required to receive an invitation to apply under the Skills Immigration – Skilled Worker category has returned to the pre-COVID-19 score of between 100 and 103 points.

Agri-Food Pilot Program

On May 15, 2020, Immigration Canada launched the Agri-Food Pilot program for three years until May 15, 2023. The Agri-Food Pilot program provides a pathway to permanent residence for foreign nationals with eligible Canadian work experience and a full-time non-seasonal job offer from a Canadian employer in one of the below eligible industries and occupations. The foreign national will also need to meet minimum language and educational requirements.

Below is a list of the eligible industries and occupations:

Industries Occupations
Meat product manufacturing (NAICS 3116) NOC B 6331 – Retail butchers

NOC C 9462 – Industrial butchers

NOC B 8252 – Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers

NOC D 9617 – Food processing labourers

Greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production, including mushroom production (NAICS 1114) NOC B 8252 – Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers

NOC C 8431 – General farm workers

NOC D 8611 – Harvesting labourers

Animal production, excluding aquaculture:

  • Cattle ranching and farming (NAICS 1121)
  • Hog and pig farming (NAICS 1122)
  • Poultry and egg production (NAICS 1123)
  • Sheep and goat farming (NAICS 1124)
  • Other animal production (NAICS 1129)
NOC B 8252 – Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers

NOC C 8431 – General farm workers



New Public Policy for In-Canada Work Permit Applications

On May 12, 2020, Immigration Canada launched a new temporary public policy that will allow a temporary foreign worker in Canada on an employer specific work permit to work for a new employer while the new work permit application is processing. This policy will reduce the processing time to approximately 10 days as opposed to approximately 90 days. The temporary foreign worker will need to wait for a confirmation letter from Immigration Canada before they can commence employment with the new employer.

International Experience Canada Program

Immigration Canada announced that effective May 8, 2020 during the pandemic, participants in the Working Holiday, Young Professional or International Co-op categories of the International Experience Canada program can only travel to Canada if they have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer and a port of entry letter of introduction.

Moreover, participants of the International Experience Canada program are recommended to obtain a written confirmation of employment from their Canadian employer that their business is continuing to operate during the pandemic and the participant will be able to start employment after a 14-day mandatory quarantine period, unless the occupation is exempt from the mandatory quarantine requirement.

Post Graduate Work Permit

On May 14, 2020, Immigration Canada announced the Post Graduate Work Permit Program eligibility will not be affected for international students whose fall 2020 courses will be online due to COVID-19. This is in line with Immigration Canada’s guidance previously provided to international students already studying in   Canada or whose program had a spring or summer start date. Accordingly, international students in this    situation may begin their classes while outside Canada and complete up to 50% of their program via distance learning if they cannot travel to Canada due to COVID-19. Further, international students will not have time deducted from the length of a future post-graduation work permit for studies completed outside of Canada, up to December 31, 2020.

Employer Compliance

On May 14, 2020, Immigration Canada announced new employer responsibilities related to COVID-19 under the International Mobility Program. Accordingly, in order for employers, with temporary foreign workers hired under the International Mobility Program, to comply with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act they must do the following:

  • let temporary foreign workers follow any order made under the Quarantine Act and Emergencies Act;
  • let temporary foreign workers comply with any provincial laws or orders related to COVID-19; and
  • pay temporary foreign workers for any period that they are in mandatory isolation or quarantine upon entering Canada under the Quarantine Act, even if the temporary foreign worker is unable to perform any work duties.


Guidelines for Canadian immigration and travel are evolving quickly and are subject to frequent change with little to no prior notice. If you have any questions regarding how the current immigration policies may apply to your current situation, please contact Daniel Lee at or 604 484 1789.

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