Travel exemption for foreign workers, students

Ottawa: The Government of Canada yesterday announced exemptions to air travel restrictions on foreign nationals who have already committed to working, studying or making Canada their home, and travel by these individuals will be considered essential travel for land border restrictions.

The exemptions include:

  • Seasonal agricultural workers, fish/seafood workers, caregivers and all other temporary foreign workers
  • International students who held a valid study permit, or had been approved for a study permit, when the travel restrictions took effect on March 18, 2020
  • Permanent resident applicants who had been approved for permanent residence before the travel restrictions were announced on March 16, 2020, but who had not yet travelled to Canada

In addition, a temporary modification is being made to the Labour Market Impact Assessment process for agriculture and food processing employers, as the required 2-week recruitment period will be waived for the next 6 months, said a media statement.

Canada is also increasing the maximum allowable employment duration for workers in the low-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program from 1 to 2 years. This will improve flexibility and reduce the administrative burden for employers, including those in food processing, it added.

To safeguard the continuity of trade, commerce, health and food security for all Canadians, temporary foreign workers in agriculture, agri-food, seafood processing and other key industries will be allowed to travel to Canada under exemptions being put in place to the air travel restrictions that took effect on March 18.


In addition to health screening protocols before travel, all individuals entering from abroad must isolate for 14 days upon their arrival in Canada.

Allowing foreign workers to enter Canada recognizes their vital importance to the Canadian economy, including food security for Canadians and the success of Canadian food producers. The arrival of farm workers and fish/seafood workers is essential to ensure that planting and harvesting activities can take place. There will always be jobs available for Canadians who wish to work on farms and at food processing plants.

Those affected by these exemptions should not try to travel to Canada immediately, the statement said adding that Canada will announce when the exemptions are in place, which it’s anticipated will be early next week.

These exemptions follow others announced earlier this week, for

  • Foreign nationals travelling at the invitation of the Canadian government for a purpose related to the containment of Covid-19
  • Close family members of Canadian citizens
  • Close family members of Canadian permanent residents
  • A person who is authorized, in writing, by a consular officer of the Government of Canada to enter Canada for the purpose of reuniting immediate family members
  • A person registered as an Indian under the Indian Act
  • Accredited diplomats and family members (including NATO, those under the United Nations Headquarters Agreement, other organizations)
  • Air crews
  • Any foreign national, or group of foreign nationals, whose entry would be in the national interest, as determined by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Minister of Public Safety
  • Members of the Canadian military, visiting forces and their family members
  • Transiting passengers

Efforts to bring Canadians home from abroad

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, yesterday announced new measures by the government to help bring Canadians home from abroad.

All over the world, Covid-19 has caused sudden border restrictions and flight cancellations, leaving Canadians stranded outside of the country without a way home. Under these extraordinary circumstances, the Government of Canada is working with Canadian airlines and foreign governments to provide access to commercial flights for Canadian travellers who want to return home, said a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

The flights will prioritize stranded travellers who are Canadian citizens, Canadian permanent residents, or immediate family members of Canadian citizens. In addition, only travellers who are asymptomatic will be allowed to board, and all travellers will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days upon entry.

Special flights

In the first series of flights to help Canadians return home, Air Canada was to operate a special flight yesterday from Morocco. Flights will also be planned for Peru and Spain, and other countries as soon as possible. Factors such as the number of Canadians, airspace closures, and the local situation are being taken into consideration in order to identify the locations for these flights. We are currently working with Air Canada and are engaged with other airlines as we assess global needs.

Canada is working with Canadian airlines to ensure that stranded Canadians are offered a reasonable commercial price for their return ticket home.

All Canadians abroad are strongly encouraged to register with Global Affairs Canada. This will allow the Government of Canada to provide information to them as soon as it becomes available.

“Our government is taking the necessary action to protect the health and safety of Canadians. Covid-19 is a rapidly evolving global issue. That is why we are taking these exceptional measures to help Canadian travelers find a way to get home to their families and friends,”  said Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Quick Facts

  • Canadian citizens, permanent residents and members of their immediate family holding a valid travel document will have priority to board these flights to Canada.
  • Foreign nationals who have already committed to working, studying or making Canada their home, will also be permitted to board with valid travel documentation.
  • Canadians who are unable to pay, and who have no available sources of funds to return home, are encouraged to apply for an emergency repayable loan through the Covid-19 Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad. This program was created to help Canadians return home and to cover basic essential needs while they work towards their return.
  • Under the Aeronautics Act, the Minister of Transport will require airlines to deny boarding of a traveller who is symptomatic, regardless of citizenship status, and keep them from boarding an international flight to Canada. This includes trans-border flights, including those from the United States. The pre-boarding health assessment would include the operator asking simple health questions, looking for visible signs of illness before boarding.
  • In the event the traveller presents Covid-19 symptoms, the airline will be required to refuse to board the passenger for travel for a period of 14 days, or until a medical certificate is presented that confirms the patient does not carry the virus.
  • The Government of Canada is asking all travellers entering Canada to self-isolate for 14 days upon entry. For those travelling by air, the request to self-isolate will be clearly communicated at multiple points, for example when purchasing a plane ticket, before boarding the plane, and again upon arrival in Canada. Exemptions to self-isolation for 14 days will be provided to healthy workers who provide essential services.


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