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North Star Immigration Law Office Foyer

It’s not business as usual, not even close.

But here at North Star, we’ve been working hard to continue to serve and advise clients as the rules change and shift before our eyes, sometimes mid-sentence. Our national immigration lawyer listserv has been tireless in reacting to the various announcements and guidance like it is in a tennis match: every volley from IRCC/Trudeau/Freeland/Mendicino creates an equally complex set of questions and requests for clarification, which in turn leads to more announcements, which in turn leads to more questions. And at the end of it all, anecdotes abound and inconsistency reigns at ports of entry and overseas airports.

So it was nice to receive an email tonight which is a notice from IRCC to prospective temporary and permanent residents. It attempts to consolidate and explain all the new rules, although I can already see some sections that have caveats or need footnotes and clarification, so that may be a project for the coming days.

I am reproducing it below.

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada / Immigration Réfugiés et Citoyenneté Canada <IRCC.COMMDoNotReply-NePasRepondreCOMM.IRCC@cic.gc.ca>

Wed 2020-04-01 9:46 PM

The Government of Canada is working closely with partners in Canada and around the world, including the World Health Organization (WHO), to respond to the current outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

If you are a representative, please let your clients know about this important information.

Effective March 18, 2020, Canada is denying entry to travellers who are not citizens or permanent residents of Canada. There are certain exceptions to these restrictions to permit essential travel for temporary foreign workers who have a work permit or who are approved for one.

If you are planning to travel to Canada to work soon, you need to be aware of public health measures in place to limit the spread of the virus in Canada. You also need to know what to expect upon arrival.

When you arrive in Canada, your health will be assessed when you speak to the border services officer. You must isolate for 14 days, even if you have no symptoms. This is mandatory for all travellers, and there are significant penalties for anyone who does not follow this order. Please see New Order Makes Self-Isolation Mandatory for Individuals Entering Canada.

Like many countries, Canada is experiencing significant labour market challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many non-essential businesses are closed, especially in the service industry, or are operating with limited staff. If you have a job with a specific employer, confirm with them that they are continuing to operate and that the job they have hired you for is still needed. If you will be in Canada with an open work permit, it may be very difficult to secure a job at this time.

You must have a plan for how you will self-isolate for 14 days when you get to Canada and how you will obtain medical care if you become sick. While in self-isolation, you will be unable to leave where you are staying for any purpose. If you do not have a plan for self-isolation, including how you will buy groceries and access other essential services, please delay your travel until you have made one.

Before and during your trip,

  • avoid spending time in large crowds or crowded areas
  • avoid contact with sick people, especially if they have a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing
  • be aware of the local situation and follow local public health advice
  • be sure to monitor your health, and if you become sick before or during your trip, avoid contact with others except to see a health care professional

If you are travelling by air, you should self-identify to airlines when you are boarding that you are exempt from travel restrictions by presenting

  • a valid work permit, or
  • a port of entry (POE) letter of introduction that shows that you were approved for a work permit, including if you are coming under International Experience Canada

You will need to pass a health check before you’re allowed to board your flight. Anyone who shows symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to travel to Canada. Do not travel to Canada if you feel sick. If you are sick, delay your travel plans until you are feeling well.

When you get to Canada,

  • If you develop symptoms during your flight to Canada, tell a border services officer when you arrive in Canada. This is required under the Quarantine Act (a Canadian law). If you don’t, you could be charged with a crime.
  • If you do not have symptoms but believe you were exposed to someone who was sick with COVID-19, under the Quarantine Act, you must report this to a border services officer when you get to Canada. The border services officer will give you instructions to follow.
  • If you develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing within 14 days,
    • continue to isolate yourself from others
    • call the public health authority in the province or territory you are in to tell them about your symptoms and travel history
      • They will give advice on what you should do.

While you are working in Canada,

  • Keep monitoring your health for fever, cough or difficulty breathing. If you get sick, avoid contact with others and contact your local public health authority.
  • If you need to apply to extend your work permit, you must do so online. You cannot travel to a POE to get immigration services at this time.
  • If you are laid off or have to take sick leave while working in Canada, you may be eligible to receive employment insurance or other income support benefits from the federal government.

Read the latest travel advice from the Government of Canada on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

There you have it. Straight from the horse’s mouth. For today, anyway.

It’s a cool and rainy weekend here in Halifax, so might as well do a bit of work and update this blog. It was an odd day today. I went into work which is unusual for me on a Saturday. When I arrived, Lori was at work trying to get through a bunch of spousal applications, her favourites. At one point she showed me the pile and said “this is a lot of love right here, this is all love!”. She’s funny and she’s great at what she does. A few minutes after that, Cam arrived. Cam is our new near-lawyer. He just finished articling in Ontario and joined us June 1. So Cam rolls in, drenched as it had just started down-pouring. Lori and I make fun of his timing for walking to work in torrential rain. He corrects us that he arrived even earlier, did some work and was just taking a break outside when it started pouring.

So there we all were, on a Saturday morning working away.  Not because any of us really had to be there. But we all wanted to be there. I finalized a pile of citizenship applications that will be filed next week – maybe those clients will become citizens on Canada Day…2017. Cam worked on some work permits and Lori worked on the spousals.

Once again, I am feeling very fortunate to be working with great people  in a great space and practicing in an area of law which is valuable and meaningful and interesting and inspiring. Thanks and Happy Canada Day.