COVID-19 and its effect on immigration and travel

Another important thing that everyone should know is Canada’s travel advisories as we fight the COVID-19 outbreak.

Public Health Agency of Canada

Extra measures have been in place in airports across the country. There are security screening questions, temperature scanners, hand sanitizers on almost every corner, and COVID-19 reminder ads.

But people still have questions about their travel, and here are some answers that might help.

International and Domestic travels

The government of Canada, as well as the Public Health Agency of Canada, are recommending everyone to avoid all non-essential travels outside of the country. One reason is that in some countries appropriate health care and medical needs are only limited.

In an announcement by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he has emphasized the importance of Canadians and residents to be back home. Canada is also denying entries to non-Canadians, excluding permanent residents and diplomats.

However, if in any case, an individual, regardless of his or her nationality, is experiencing symptoms, they wouldn’t be allowed to board their flight – a protocol that is now being followed at four of the only functioning international airports in the country. (Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver)

For those who must travel, you can visit the Government of Canada’s website – travel advice and advisories page for your destination to verify safety and security information and any other health recommendation.

As of the moment, domestic travels are not affected by the said measures.

Immigration applications

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has published a special set of measures in response to COVID-19.

  • Permanent residents applicants will be permitted to submit a permanent residence application via Express Entry without all of the required documentation.
  • Additional delays will be allowed for individuals who have been approved for permanent residence but are unable to travel to Canada to validate their confirmation of PR.
  • New permanent residence applications will be accepted even if some documents are missing only if applicants can justify why they cannot obtain the document.
  • In-person permanent residence landing appointments are cancelled until April 13, 2020.

Citizenship applications

  • All citizenship tests including ceremonies are postponed until further notice.

Temporary residence applicants

  • If your temporary resident status is about to expire, you may apply for an extension online and meet all requirements.
  • IRCC will provide an additional 90 days for temporary residents (international students, temporary workers) who need to submit documents for their files to continue to process.
  • No application in progress will be closed.
  • If your application for extension is in progress, you will be able to remain in Canada until a decision has been made.
  • Biometrics deadlines are automatically extended by 90 days.
  • Some visa application centres may be closed until further notice which may cause delays in application processing.

Public Transit

Enhanced cleaning procedures have been implemented on local transit agencies. Metrolinx has been putting out reminders to customers regarding social distancing. It has also announced a temporary change and reduction on its GO trains and buses schedules.

TTC is now allowing riders to board buses at both front and back doors to practice social distancing. Those who are paying with cash, token, ticket, or with a paper transfer, will have to board the front doors. While those who have presto cards will be allowed to enter the rear doors. TTC has also allowed its staff and drivers to wear masks as they wish.

Uber and Lyft

To help “flatten the curve”, Uber and Lyft have suspended their carpooling/shared ride options. All regular rides will remain available.

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