Visitors, foreign workers and students

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Travel documents for visitors to Canada

First, you should determine whether or not you can enter Canada.

Find out if you can travel to Canada

If you’re eligible to travel to Canada at this time, you need to tell us, so we can prioritize your application. What you need to do depends on if you’ve already applied for a visa or electronic travel authorization (eTA) or not.

If you haven’t applied for a visa or eTA yet
  1. Use our online tool to find out if you need a visitor visa or an eTA.
  2. Follow the instructions to:
If you’ve already applied for a visa or eTA

Follow the steps for:

If you’re already in Canada, and your visitor status is still valid

When you apply, make sure you include a note explaining why you need to extend your stay in Canada.

You can apply online for a visitor record to extend your stay in Canada.

If you’re in Canada, and your visitor status has expired

You may be able to restore your status.

If you’re not eligible to travel right now

You can apply for a visitor visa or an eTA, even if you’re not eligible to travel at this time. If your application is approved, you must wait for the travel restrictions to end to travel to Canada.

You must apply online.

Find out if you need a visitor visa or an eTA before you apply.

Foreign workers: Travel restrictions and exemptions

As a temporary foreign worker, you may be exempt from the travel restrictions and be able to enter Canada if you:

Workers who need work permits

Who can enter Canada

You can enter Canada if you’re coming for a non-discretionary purpose. This means you can enter Canada in either of these situations:

Who can't enter Canada

You can’t enter Canada for discretionary travel. For example, you will not be allowed to enter Canada if:

Applying for a work permit

COVID-19 has changed the process to apply for a work permit.

If your immediate family members need to come to Canada

Your immediate family members may be able to:

Reasons immediate family can come to Canada

Immediate family can come to Canada if they’ll live with you for most of the time your work permit is valid.

Depending on their situation, they may need to request written authorization from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to reunite with you before they travel.

Who doesn’t need a written authorization

Your immediate family member doesn’t need an authorization if they:

Who needs a written authorization

Your immediate family member needs an authorization if they’re:

In most cases, this means that if they’re not eligible to travel as a worker or student, they’ll need a written authorization from IRCC.

How to request an authorization

Reasons immediate family can’t come to Canada

Your family member won’t be allowed to enter Canada if their travel is discretionary. Their travel would be considered discretionary if, for example,

Workers who can work without a work permit

If you’re coming to Canada to work and you don’t need a work permit, you may be able to enter Canada.

It depends on both:

If you’re coming from the U.S.

You’re exempt from the travel restrictions if you’re:

This includes business visitors.

You must have a plan to quarantine unless you’re exempt from the quarantine requirements.

If you’re coming from a country other than the U.S.

You’re exempt from the travel restrictions only if you either:

No other work permit-exempt workers can enter Canada at this time.

Applying for a visitor visa or electronic travel authorization (eTA)

Even if you can work without a work permit, you may still need a visitor visa or eTA to enter Canada.

We’ve temporarily changed how to apply for a visitor visa or eTA to ensure that your application is processed.

Most applicants need to follow these instructions to apply for a visitor visa or eTA.

Some applicants must apply through the IRCC portal for a visitor visa.

Workers who need to use the IRCC portal

You must use the IRCC Portal to apply for your visitor visa to:

How to apply for a visitor visa through the IRCC Portal

When you travel to Canada to work without a work permit

You need to show airline staff that you’re exempt from the travel restrictions. To do this, show the following documents to airline personnel when you’re boarding your flight:

Temporary workers already in Canada

COVID-19 has changed how to apply for a work permit and how we’ll process your application. Find out how COVID-19 changes affect foreign workers in Canada.

Agricultural, agri-food and seafood employers

There are specific requirements for the employers of this group of temporary foreign workers.

Agricultural, agri-food and seafood quarantine and testing requirements

International students: Travel restrictions and exemptions

Effective October 20, 2020

To be able to enter Canada as a student, you must meet 2 requirements:

  1. You must have a valid study permit or a letter of introduction that shows you were approved for a study permit
  2. You must be attending a designated learning institution (DLI) with a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by its province or territory

You can only enter Canada if you have all of the required documents and your DLI is on the approved list.

As a student, you will not be allowed to enter Canada if:

See the list of DLIs with approved COVID-19 readiness plans.

What you need when you travel to Canada

Make sure your school is on the list of DLIs with COVID-19 readiness plans approved by their province or territory.

When the Border Services Officer greets you, they look at several factors, including:

You must bring:

A Border Services Officer will make a final decision on your eligibility to enter Canada when you arrive.

Cross-border students (daily or regular crossing)

To be able to enter Canada, you must have a study permit and be attending a DLI with a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by its province or territory.

As a cross-border student, you will likely be exempt from quarantine upon arrival in Canada if your province or territory is accepting cross-border students.

The following provinces and territories are accepting cross-border students:

If the province or territory in which your DLI is located isn’t listed above, you’ll be required to quarantine upon arrival in Canada.

While in Canada you must:

See the list of DLIs with approved COVID-19 readiness plans.

If someone will be driving you to and from your DLI, they also don’t need to quarantine for 14 days, as long as:

If immediate family members want to be with you in Canada

Some of your immediate family members may be able to come with you to Canada. You must be in one of the following relationships:

If one of these family members travels with you

They don’t need a written authorization from IRCC to travel with you. However, they must show that their reasons for travel are non-discretionary (non-optional). For example, they’ll help you get established and support you in Canada.

If your immediate family member will study or work in Canada

You must submit all of your applications together when you apply online.

If they won’t study or work

They may still need an electronic travel authorization (eTA) or a visitor visa to travel to Canada.

If they need a visitor visa, you should include their application when you apply online for your study permit.

If they need an eTA, they must apply for one separately.

How to apply for an eTA or visitor visa.

If they join you later

If you’re already in Canada, or will travel to Canada by yourself first and your family will join you later, what they need to travel to Canada depends on where they’re travelling from. They may also need an eTA or a visitor visa to travel to Canada.

For more information, see Foreign nationals reuniting with family.

If you haven’t applied for a study permit yet

Due to the impacts of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), we can’t:

We’re prioritizing some applications, including:

Apply online

If you’re applying for a study permit, you should apply online, whether you’re outside of Canada or already in Canada. When you apply, you should:

If you can’t apply online because of a disability or because there is a problem with the online application, you can apply on paper.

If you plan to study in Quebec, you must provide a valid Quebec Acceptance Certificate or proof that you applied for one.

How we process applications submitted from outside Canada

If you’re outside of Canada and you apply for a study permit, we’ll process your application in 2 stages. We’ll process complete applications first.

This 2-stage process only applies to study permit applications:

  • submitted by September 15, 2020, and
  • for programs that start, or started, in spring, summer or fall 2020

Stage 1: We check your eligibility

In this stage, an officer reviews your application for:

  • a letter of acceptance from a DLI
  • a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (if you’ll be studying in Quebec)
  • proof that you have enough money for
  • tuition fees
  • living expenses for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada, and
  • return transportation for yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada
  • any family ties you may have to Canada
  • evidence that you’ll leave Canada when you no longer have legal status

If your application passes this first stage, we’ll let you know in your online account. This doesn’t guarantee that we’ll approve your application and issue you a study permit.

Our aim is to pass most applications through stage 1 as soon as possible.

Stage 2: We check your application for admissibility and any changes to your eligibility

In this stage, an officer reviews your application for:

  • a medical exam, if needed
  • police certificates, if needed
  • your biometrics
  • any information that changed after we reviewed your application for eligibility

If your application passes this second stage, we’ll approve it.

At this point, if you meet the requirements to travel to Canada, you’ll be:

  • ready to travel to Canada and begin your studies, or
  • able to continue your studies in Canada, if you’ve already started studying online

Apply at the border crossing

In general, you should not apply for a study permit at a Canadian border crossing at this time. You should apply online for a study permit before you travel to Canada.

If you’re already in Canada and you try to apply at the border crossing, you will likely need to quarantine for 14 days if the border services officer approves you to re-enter Canada.

Only certain people can apply at the border crossing at this time. You may be able to apply at the border crossing if you’re a:

  • U.S. citizen
  • lawful permanent resident of the U.S.
  • resident of Greenland
  • resident of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon

If you meet one of these requirements, you must have all the documents required to apply for a study permit with you when you arrive at the border. The border services officer who greets you will determine if you’re eligible to enter Canada as a student.

What to do if you can’t provide required documents

Upload a letter of explanation explaining why you can’t submit the required documents (like your biometrics, proof of enrolment, final transcripts, or others). For example, you may not be able to get these documents because offices are closed..

You must provide a letter of acceptance from a DLI when you apply. We won’t process applications that are submitted without this document.

We won’t reject your application if you can’t submit the required documents, other than your letter of acceptance, because of COVID-19.

When we start processing your application, we’ll ask for the missing documents and give you an extension to provide the documents, if needed.

International students already in Canada

If you’re already in Canada, you can continue studying at any designated learning institution (DLI). If you leave Canada, you may not be able to return if your DLI doesn’t have a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by the province or territory in which you live. If you are attending an institution that is not listed and leave Canada, you may not be permitted to re-enter.

If your study permit is expiring

You must apply online to extend your stay in Canada.

If you’re a student, you have 3 options:

  1. If you want to continue studying, you may be able to extend your study permit if you’re eligible.
  2. If you’re no longer studying and not applying for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP), you can apply to change your status to visitor, as long as your study permit has not expired.
  3. If you completed your program of study, you may be eligible to apply for a PGWP.
If your status as a student has expired

You may be able to restore your status.

Students studying in Quebec

The Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI) is automatically extending the validity of Quebec Acceptance Certificates (CAQs) until December 31, 2020 for all certificates expiring between April 30 and December 31.

If you submit a CAQ expiring between April 30 and December 31 with your study permit application, your new study permit expiry date will automatically be December 31, 2020, unless your passport expires before this date.

This does not apply if your CAQ expired before April 30, 2020.

You should apply for a new CAQ if:

Submit evidence that you applied for a new CAQ when we ask you to upload your CAQ. If you receive a new CAQ before we’re ready to process your application, you can submit it using our Web form.

Compliance with study permit conditions

If your in-class courses are being temporarily moved to an online-only format or suspended completely because of COVID-19, you’re still compliant with your study permit conditions if you:

If your DLI closes permanently due to COVID-19, you have 150 days to:

Letter of support for future applications

If an officer asks you for more information about your time studying in Canada on an application in the future, your DLI should provide you with a letter of support to explain how your studies were affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Students with authorization to work

You can continue to work even if COVID-19 has forced you to become a part-time student or take a break in studies if you were:

If you’re working off campus, you can work up to 20 hours per week during an academic session. You can work full time during scheduled breaks in the academic year.

If you worked in an essential service or function

Between April 22 and August 31, 2020, you were temporarily allowed to work more than 20 hours per week during an academic session if:

  • you worked in an essential service or function, and
  • you had a valid study permit that allowed you to work off campus

This change no longer applies.

If, on a future application, an officer asks you about work you performed during this time, let them know what essential service or function you worked in. You could ask your employer for a letter of support to confirm this.

Find out if your work is considered an essential service or function.

Apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP)

If you’re applying for a PGWP, you need to submit:

Find out how to apply for a PGWP.

What to do if you can’t provide required documents

Upload a letter of explanation instead of the missing documents and tell us why you can’t submit the documents (letter of completion or final transcript), for example because your school’s offices are closed.

Your application won’t be rejected if you cannot submit the requested documents.

When we start processing your application, we’ll ask for the missing documents and give you an extension to provide the documents, if needed.

Eligibility to work without a work permit

You may be eligible to start working full time right away until a decision is made on your application if:

How your PGWPP eligibility is affected

If you graduated or will graduate from a DLI that offers PGWPP-eligible programs, you’re still eligible for a post-graduation work permit if:

If you’re outside of Canada

You’re still eligible for a post-graduation work permit if you can’t travel to Canada at this time due to travel restrictions and:

  • you have a study permit
  • you’ve been approved for a study permit
  • you applied for a study permit before starting your study program in the spring, summer or fall 2020 semesters, or
  • you will apply for a study permit before starting your study program in the January 2021 semester

If you’re in this situation, you can begin your classes while outside Canada and:

  • complete 100% of your program online if:
    • your program is between 8 and 12 months in length, and
    • you started your studies between May and September 2020
  • complete up to 50% of your program online (until April 30, 2021) if you complete the other 50% of your program in Canada
  • complete up to 50% of your studies online (until April 30, 2021) if:
    • you’ll graduate from 2 different eligible study programs within 2 years of each other
    • 1 of the programs started between May and September 2020
    • each program is at least 8 months long, and
    • you complete at least 50% of the combined length of the programs in Canada

If you apply for your study permit before starting your program, any time spent studying online from outside Canada since spring 2020 now counts toward the length of a post graduation work permit. (Before, only the time spent studying online after you were approved for a study permit counted.)

You won’t have time deducted from the length of your post-graduation work permit for studies you complete outside Canada until April 30, 2021.

Driving and flying checklists

If you are able to come to Canada, you must follow testing and quarantine requirements.

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