Canada Clarifies Which Workers are Allowed to Enter Country


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Canada has provided updated guidance for which work permit holders are exempt from travel restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The update, published on June 19 by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), is designed ‘to ensure that non-optional and non-discretionary travel are being interpreted as intended’.

It covers discretionary and non-discretionary travel, additional priority occupations in health-related NOC codes, example scenarios and the International Experience Canada program.

Temporary Worker Who Can Enter Canada

1) Foreign nationals who hold a valid Canadian work permit

2) Foreign nationals with an IRCC letter of introduction but whose work permit has not yet been issued. The purpose of travel must not be discretionary or optional.

Work-Permit Exempt Candidates in Critical Occupations

Work-permit exempt candidates in the following occupations will have their applications prioritized. They are not subject to travel restrictions and may not be subject to the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

1) Providers of emergency services (including firefighters and medical service providers).

2) Students permitted to work in a health field, including as a medical elective or clinical clerk, if they have written approval from the body that regulates that field.

3) Marine transportation workers essential for the movement of goods.

4) People entering Canada to deliver or maintain medical equipment.

5) People entering Canada to deliver blood, organs or other body parts.

Scenarios For Those Who Can or Cannot Enter Canada

IRCC has offered a number of scenarios for situations where candidates can or cannot enter Canada.

1) Scenarios where candidate can enter Canada (non-optional or non-discretionary travel)

  1. a) Candidate has a valid work permit and ordinarily resides in Canada, whether they have a job or not.
  2. b) Candidate has a letter of introduction for an open work permit, holds a valid job offer and will be able to work once they enter Canada.
  3. c) Candidate has a letter of introduction for an employer-specific work permit, holds a valid job offer and will be able to work once they enter Canada.

2) Scenarios where candidate cannot enter Canada (optional or discretionary travel)

  1. a) Candidate has a letter of introduction for an employer-specific work permit, but the business of their prospective employer is closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  2. b) Candidate has a letter of introduction for an open work permit, has not secured a job contract and is planning to search for work in Canada.

International Experience Canada Candidates

The only International Experience Canada (IEC) candidates currently permitted to enter Canada are those with a letter of introduction and an offer of employment with an employer who is still operating during the COVID-19 outbreak. They must also meet all the other requirements.

Jobs Qualifying for Priority Work Permit Processing

Work permit applications for the following critical jobs are being prioritized:

  • 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 farmworkers
  • 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 worker

Health professionals are normally covered by work permit exemptions for short term assignments. However, those seeking to enter Canada from abroad will need to apply and await approval. The following occupations will be prioritized for health professionals applying for work permits:

  • NOC 3011 – Nursing co-ordinators and supervisors
  • NOC 3012 – Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses
  • NOC 3111 – Specialist physicians
  • NOC 3112 – General practitioners and family physicians
  • NOC 3124 – Allied primary health practitioners
  • NOC 3125 – Other professional occupations in health diagnosing and treating
  • NOC 3131 – Pharmacists
  • NOC 3211 – Medical laboratory technologists
  • NOC 3212 – Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists’ assistants
  • NOC 3214 – Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists
  • NOC 3215 – Medical radiation technologists
  • NOC 3217 – Cardiology technologists and electrophysiological diagnostic technologists, n.e.c.
  • NOC 3233 – Licensed practical nurses
  • NOC 3234 – Paramedical occupations
  • NOC 3413 – Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates
  • NOC 4411 – Home child care providers (LMIA-required in-Canada applicants)
  • NOC 4412 – Home support workers, excluding housekeepers (LMIA-required in-Canada applicants)

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