In Citizenship, COVID-19 Updates, Immigration, Refugees

From Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

These program delivery instructions are aligned with the Ministerial Instructions that are in effect from April 9, 2020 to April 29, 2020 (and may be extended).

These instructions are interim procedures to enable staff to process new and existing applications from visitors, workers and international students who are exempted from the travel restrictions because of the purpose of their travel. They will end when the travel restrictions are discontinued and IRCC offices resume regular operations.

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Temporary resident visas (TRVs) (visitor visas)

Applicants can continue to apply for temporary resident visas (TRVs) via online applications only. Paper applications are not being accepted at this time.

Due to the restrictions on travel to Canada by foreign nationals, only applicants who meet one of the exemption criteria and who are travelling for a non-discretionary purpose will be processed; this includes both new applications and those whose applications are currently pending. TRV application fees still apply.


Even if an applicant meets the travel restrictions exemption criteria and establishes they are travelling for a non-discretionary purpose, they must continue to meet all the usual eligibility and admissibility requirements in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) to be approved.

Applications submitted prior to the travel restrictions will be placed on hold and will not be processed unless the applicant contacts IRCC at to indicate how they meet the exemption criteria and provide acceptable documentation.

Electronic travel authorization (eTA)

Applicants can continue to submit electronic travel authorization (eTA) applications online; however, the manual processing of eTA applications that drop out for officer review will be paused. Therefore, applications that drop out for manual intervention will only be processed if the applicant meets the exemption criteria for the current travel restrictions and is travelling for a non-discretionary purpose. These individuals have been directed to self-identify and submit documentation to show how they meet the exemption criteria through an IRCC web form submission.

Officers must wait until the supporting documents have been received through the web form submission before they proceed.

All in-progress applications submitted prior to the travel restriction will remain on hold unless applicants contact IRCC through the web form to indicate how they meet the exemption criteria and provide supporting documentation. Applicants must also comply with all requests for the usual documentation, for example a police certificate, before a final decision is rendered.

Study permit

Applicants can continue to submit study permit applications. All applicants who are outside Canada at the time of application must apply online.

Applicants can also continue to submit study permit extension applications from within Canada.

Push notifications will be sent to all foreign nationals whose overseas study permit application was approved after March 18, 2020, with up-to-date instructions on when they can travel to Canada.

Work permit

To respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Government of Canada has issued a series of Orders in Council. The following Orders in Council have a direct impact on foreign workers:

  • Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Prohibition of Entry into Canada from any Country other than the United States)
  • Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Mandatory Isolation)
  • Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Prohibition of Entry into Canada from the United States)

Like all travellers, including Canadian citizens and permanent residents, temporary workers who enter Canada as a result of an exemption will undergo the necessary health checks and must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in Canada unless otherwise exempted.


  • Foreign nationals requiring a work permit, whether they are visa required or not, will not be allowed to board a plane departing from any country other than the United States if they don’t have the work permit or approval letter.
  • Foreign nationals will not be able to apply for a work permit at the POE (unless entering from the U.S. and allowed to do so under Order in Council 5).

The following foreign nationals who are currently outside Canada are not subject to Canada’s travel restrictions:

  1. Foreign nationals who hold a valid Canadian work permit (including an open work permit) as defined in section R2.Document to present to the air carrier: The status document [IMM 1442] (the actual valid work permit document).
  2. All foreign nationals who received a positive decision from IRCC (documented by a decision letter, port of entry letter, or letter of introduction) on a work permit application but whose work permit has not yet been issued. This includes foreign nationals who applied for an open work permit and received a positive decision.Document to present to the air carrier: A paper copy or e-version of the letter of introduction.
Note: Work permit applicants who are currently outside Canada must confirm that their employer is not subject to mandatory closure of non-essential businesses and will be able to start their employment after the 14-day isolation period before making any travel arrangements. Workers should not proceed to Canada at this time if their employer is no longer offering them a job.

Port of entry instructions

Border services officers (BSOs) may ask if the offer is still active or the employer is still operating. If not, BSOs may refuse the work permit as the foreign national no longer meets the requirements under section R200 or is prohibited under subsection R200(3). The BSO must determine if the foreign national is otherwise admissible to enter Canada within the current travel restrictions.

If the employer is no longer offering a job, whether a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) was required or not, the foreign national may withdraw their work permit application and receive a refund if IRCC has not started processing their application.

In addition, the following work permit-exempt foreign nationals are not subject to the travel restrictions and may not be subject to the mandatory 14-day self-isolation period if they are described in the Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Mandatory Isolation):

When operationally possible, we encourage officers to prioritize these work permit exemption applications as these occupations were identified as critical for health, safety and food security reasons.

Foreign nationals who are work permit exempt are still required to undergo their immigration medical examination, if required. Consult

Applicants coming under these work permit exemptions must follow the instructions above for Temporary resident visas (TRVs) (visitor visas) or Electronic travel authorization (eTA) when they apply.


At the point of boarding, these foreign nationals can self-identify to airlines that they are exempt from the travel restriction by presenting alternative documentation to show how they meet the criteria. This should generally include

  • for emergency services providers, a letter of invitation from a relevant organization in Canada (federal, provincial or municipal government entity)
  • for health care students, a letter of invitation from a relevant teaching institution
  • for persons joining vessels, a letter from shipping agents

Those who are work permit exempt are required to satisfy the airline that they are exempt from the travel restrictions. Other acceptable documents may include letters of invitation and letters confirming recognition of credentials.

Processing of work permits

Applicants outside Canada can continue to submit work permit applications. Any person who is outside Canada at the time of application must apply online. This also applies to applicants who are normally allowed to apply at the port of entry as per subsection R198(1), as the exemption to the travel restrictions for foreign nationals arriving from a country other than the U.S. applies to holders of a work permit and persons approved for a work permit.

To benefit from the exemption to the travel restriction when arriving from a country other than the U.S., the foreign national must have their letter of introduction beforehand if they are travelling by air. Foreign nationals who are presenting themselves at a land border may still apply upon entry as per subsection R198(1) and insofar as they are not prohibited from entering Canada on the basis of the Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Prohibition of Entry into Canada from the United States).

For applicants who are outside Canada, a daily report will be pulled for all approved applications and a push notification letter will be sent by the Client Experience Branch advising applicants of the required documentation to present to the air carrier and the 14-day self-isolation instructions.

Applicants can also continue to submit applications to extend or to change conditions on their work permits from within Canada. More instructions to follow.

Certain applicants may still apply using paper applications if they meet one of the exemptions from the mandatory e-application requirement. They must clearly write “COVID-19” on the envelope.

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) will prioritize the processing of LMIAs for the following National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes. Where operationally possible, we encourage officers to prioritize work permit applications for these NOCs, in addition to health-related occupations, as these occupations have been identified as essential and critical for Canada. A daily report will be pulled by Operations Planning and Performance Branch (OPPB) and distributed to the International Network and Centralized Network.

  • NOC 6331 – Butchers, meat cutters and fishmongers – retail and wholesale
  • NOC 7511 – Transport truck drivers
  • NOC 8252 – Agricultural service contractors, farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
  • NOC 8431 – General farm workers
  • NOC 8432 – Nursery and greenhouse workers
  • NOC 8611 – Harvesting labourers
  • NOC 9463 – Fish and seafood plant workers
  • NOC 9617 – Labourers in food, beverage and associated products processing
  • NOC 9618 – Labourers in fish and seafood processing
  • NOC 9462 – Industrial butchers and meat cutters, poultry preparers and related workers
Note: Certain foreign nationals who are licensed health care professionals and who can demonstrate their employment in Canada may be required to obtain a work permit prior to their entry, if they do not qualify for a work permit exemption under section R186. Those who are travelling by air from somewhere other than the U.S. would have to apply abroad for a work permit and await approval. Officers are encouraged to provide priority processing for these applicants.

Offers of employment and LMIAs

Given the current exceptional circumstances, we may see an increase in the suspension of LMIAs and the withdrawal of offers of employment in the employer portal. Officers are reminded to verify that the offer has not been withdrawn and that the LMIA has not been suspended before finalizing the work permit application. For more details, consult:

For LMIA-required work permit applications, officers are reminded to review the IRCC notes in the LMIA under the Employment Details tab to make sure that there has been no change to the name of the foreign national in the LMIA for which the officer is assessing the application. Workers such as truck drivers are expected to arrive in Canada and be able to perform the job. Most training facilities are likely not in operation at the moment. In addition, ESDC will issue LMIAs with a 9-month validity as opposed to 6 months to provide more flexibility.

Note: Specific instructions for agricultural workers under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) and the Agricultural Stream (non-SAWP) are being developed, with more details to follow.

Withdrawal of temporary residence applications

If an applicant wishes to withdraw their temporary residence application and is residing in an area where travel restrictions are imposed, regular processes for withdrawal requests should be followed.

Temporary residents in Canada unable to depart Canada

There is no fee waiver for any temporary residence applications or extensions.

Foreign nationals who are in Canada and whose temporary resident status may soon expire may apply for an extension in order to maintain their temporary resident status in Canada. As per current guidelines, applicants must apply online and must meet all requirements, including biometrics fees, as applicable.

Foreign nationals who have an extension application currently in progress will benefit from implied status and may remain in Canada until a decision is rendered on their application; therefore, expedited processing is not required.


Foreign nationals whose temporary resident status has expired may apply for restoration. They must pay the associated processing and restoration fees, as applicable.

If the applicant is eligible for restoration

The officer proceeds with the assessment of the application (medical results, bona fides, etc.).

If all other requirements are met, the officer issues a visitor record (or appropriate permit) outlining the conditions for the restoration of status. The document is mailed to the client.

If the applicant is not eligible for restoration

The Minister’s delegate decides on a disposition for the case. The following options are available:

  • refer the case to an admissibility hearing
  • issue a departure order
  • allow the foreign national to remain

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