Travel restrictions in Canada

Visitors, foreign workers and students

COVID-19 testing required for people flying into Canada

Starting January 7, 2021, air travellers 5 years of age or older are required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result to the airline prior to boarding international flights bound for Canada. See new requirements for air travellers.

Mandatory 14-day quarantine or isolation

Everyone entering Canada must follow mandatory isolation or quarantine requirements. Not respecting the mandatory requirements is a serious offence and you could face consequences and penalties.

On this page

COVID-19: Changes to biometrics requirement for in-Canada temporary residence applicants

As a temporary measure, if you’re in Canada and applying to work, study or stay temporarily in Canada, you do not need to give your biometrics. Learn more about the exemption.

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 able to enter Canada if you’re coming for an essential (non-discretionary) purpose.

Certain people who can work without a permit may also be exempt from travel restrictions.

Who can enter Canada as a foreign worker

The following reasons are considered essential (non-discretionary).

You can enter Canada if you’re in either of these situations:

Who can't enter Canada as a foreign worker

The following reasons are considered non-essential (discretionary).

You will not be allowed to enter Canada if:

If you haven’t applied for a work permit yet

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

  • process applications normally
  • provide accurate processing times

We’re prioritizing some applications, including:

  • Canadians trying to return to Canada
  • vulnerable people
  • people who perform or support essential services such as agriculture, agri-food, health-care-related occupations.

To keep processing applications from people who are exempt from the travel restrictions, we’re temporarily changing how you can apply to visit, work or study in Canada.

You must apply online when you apply for a:

You cannot apply for a work permit at a Canadian port of entry during this time unless you meet these 3 conditions:

Completing your application

Office closures or service changes due to COVID-19 may affect how you complete some steps in the application process. Find out how COVID-19 has affected:

If you’ve been approved for a work permit

When you travel, show the following documents to show that you’re exempt from the travel restrictions:

  • passport or travel document, and
  • proof that you’re allowed to work in Canada, specifically
    • a valid work permit or
    • a port of entry letter of introduction that shows that you were approved for a work permit
Work without a work permit

Only the following people can work without a permit and are exempt from the travel restrictions, unless you are exempt for any other reason, such as national interest grounds:

emergency service providers
  • As an emergency service provider, you’ll help out in an emergency. You’ll be in Canada to immediately help preserve life or property.
health care students
  • As a health care student:
    • you’re doing clinical clerkships
    • the main goal of your work is training
    • you have written approval from the board that regulates your job (note that certain provinces do not need written approval
    • your training will last less than 4 months

If your training will last more than 4 months, or if you do not meet the other conditions listed above, you need a work permit. If you have a work permit, you’re still exempt from the travel restrictions, as long as you’re travelling for an essential purpose.

any person whose purpose is to make medical deliveries
  • You’ll deliver cells, blood and blood products, tissues, organs or other body parts that are needed for patient care in Canada.
technicians or specialists inspecting, repairing or maintaining equipment
  • As a technician or specialist hired by a government, manufacturer or company, you’re exempt from the travel restrictions if you’ll you’ll install, inspect, repair or maintain equipment to support critical infrastructure:
    • energy and utilities
    • information and communication technologies
    • finance
    • health
    • food
    • water
    • transportation
    • safety
    • government
    • manufacturing

If you’re inspecting, repairing or maintaining equipment as part of an existing warranty or sales agreement, you’re a business visitor. You don’t need a work permit.

You need a work permit if you’re either:

If you have a work permit, you’re still exempt from the travel restrictions, as long as you’re travelling for an essential purpose.

commercial fishing-related activities or marine research

If you’ll enter Canada and go directly to a foreign-owned open water vessel to work:

  • you don’t need a work permit
  • you’re exempt from the travel restrictions

Your work may include:

  • fishing
  • transporting fish to and from an aquaculture facility
  • treating fish for pests or pathogens
  • repairs
  • bringing supplies to aquaculture-related vessels or aquaculture facilities
  • exchange of crew

You may be a:

  • captain
  • deckhand
  • observer
  • inspector
  • scientist
  • veterinarian
  • any other person supporting commercial or research open water aquaculture-related activities

If you’re working on a Canadian-owned vessel, you need a work permit.

If you have a work permit, you’re still exempt from the travel restrictions, as long as you’re travelling for an essential purpose.

  • any person whose purpose is to deliver, maintain or repair medical equipment or devices
  • air or marine crew members

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.

How to apply to a visitor visa or eTA

When you travel to Canada

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:

  • Passport or travel document
  • Proof that you’re exempt from travel restrictions, such as:
    • Emergency services providers: a letter of invitation from a relevant organization in Canada (government or non-government organization).
    • Health care students: a letter of invitation from a relevant teaching institution.
    • Marine crew joining vessels: a joining letter from shipping agents.

Temporary workers already in Canada

If you’re already in Canada, in most cases, you must apply online to extend or get a new work permit.

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.

Due to restrictions on non-essential travel at the U.S.-Canada border, you can’t travel from inside Canada to apply at a port of entry.

If your work permit hasn’t expired

Most workers have 2 options:

  1. If you want to continue working, you may be able to extend your work permit if you’re eligible.
  2. If you’re no longer working, you can apply to change your status to visitor, as long as your work permit has not expired.

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

If you change jobs or employers

If you have an employer-specific work permit and you want to change jobs or employers, you must apply for a new work permit from inside Canada. International Experience Canada (IEC) participants must first check that they can change employers with an IEC work permit.

However, you don’t need to wait until your work permit application is approved to start your new job or work for a new employer. You just need an email from IRCC that says you have permission to change jobs.

As always, open work permit holders can change employers at any time.

Who’s eligible:
How to apply

To change jobs or employers, follow these steps:

Step 1: Apply for your work permit

Apply for a new work permit from inside Canada.

Most people must apply online.

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.

Step 2: Fill out the IRCC Web form

After you apply, fill out the IRCC Web form.

When you fill out the Your enquiry section, you must copy the text below that applies to your situation. Make sure you fill out the sections in square brackets, including:

  • dates
  • name(s) of employer(s)
  • title of your job

If you applied on paper and don’t know your application number, include your courier tracking number. This will ensure we can find your application.

If you have other questions, you need to fill out a new IRCC Web form.

Message that work permit holders changing jobs or employers need to paste into the Web form

Priority Code PPCHANGEWORK2020: I am requesting consideration under the Temporary public policy to exempt foreign nationals in Canada from certain requirements when changing employment during the coronavirus pandemic and request that the applicable exemptions be granted until the decision is made on my work permit application or it is withdrawn.

I attest that: I hold/held a work permit valid until [date] for employer [name] / in occupation [job title] and I have received new job offer for [new employer name] / [new occupation job title].

I have submitted my application for a work permit online or I submitted my application by paper and the postal/courier tracking number is [number].

I intend to work for the [new employer name] / [new occupation job title] specified in the afore-mentioned work permit application.

I understand that providing false, misleading or incorrect information is a violation of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and may result in enforcement measures against me.

Message that workers who have been work permit exempt need to paste into the Web form

Priority Code PPCHANGEWORK2020: I am requesting consideration under the Temporary public policy to exempt foreign nationals in Canada from certain requirements when changing employment during the coronavirus pandemic and request that the applicable exemptions be granted until the decision is made on my work permit application or it is withdrawn.

I attest that: I am/was authorized to work without a work permit for employer [name] / in occupation [job title] until [date] and I have received a new job offer for [new employer name] / [new occupation job title].

I have submitted my application for a work permit online or I submitted my application by paper and the postal/ Courier tracking number is [number].

I intend to work for the [new employer name] / [new occupation job title] specified in the afore-mentioned work permit.

I understand that providing false, misleading or incorrect information is a violation of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and may result in enforcement measures against me.

Step 3: Wait for our email

Wait for us to send you an email. It will confirm that you can start your new job or work for your new employer while we process your application.

If you applied online for your work permit, the email should arrive in about 10 business days. If you applied on paper, it may take longer.

If you’re a visitor who needs a work permit

We’re temporarily allowing visitors to apply online for a work permit from inside Canada

If your status as a worker has expired

You may be able to restore your status.

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:

  • your reason for travelling to Canada
  • your ability to complete a 14-day quarantine period as soon as you arrive at your final destination
  • if you either:
    • have time to complete your quarantine before you physically attend classes, or
    • can study online during your quarantine

You must bring:

  • a valid study permit, or a port of entry letter of introduction that shows you were approved for a study permit
  • a valid letter of acceptance from a DLI with a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by its province or territory
  • proof that you have enough money to support yourself and any family members who come with you to Canada

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:

  • British Columbia

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:

  • wear a mask in any public setting where you can’t maintain physical distancing
  • follow all public health guidelines for the municipality and province or territory in which you study

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:

  • they only leave their vehicle to escort you to and from your school and
  • they wear a mask at all times while outside their vehicle

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:

  • you’re the spouse or common-law partner of the student
  • you’re the dependent child of the student, or of the student’s spouse or common-law partner
  • you’re the parent or step-parent of the student, or of the student's spouse or common-law partner
  • you’re the guardian or tutor of the student

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:

  • process applications normally
  • provide accurate processing times

We’re prioritizing some applications, including:

  • Canadians trying to return to Canada
  • vulnerable people
  • people who perform or support essential services such as agriculture-, agri-food- and health-care-related occupations
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 port of entry

In general, you should not apply for a study permit at a Canadian port of entry 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 port of entry, 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 port of entry at this time. You may be able to apply at the port of entry 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:

  • you never had a CAQ
  • your CAQ expired before April 30, 2020
  • you plan to continue studying after December 31, 2020

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:

  • stay enrolled in your designated learning institution (DLI), and
  • continue to take part in your studies online, if your DLI is offering them

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:

  • a full-time student, and
  • authorized to work on or off campus while you studied

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:

  • a letter of completion and/or
  • your final transcript

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:

  • your in-class courses in Canada are moved to an online-only format because of COVID-19, or
  • you had to put your studies on hold or study part-time because of COVID-19 during the winter, spring or summer 2020 semesters
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.

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