The COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted the global economy. In efforts to safeguard the continuous flow of Canada’s food supply and health security as well as trade and commerce, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced a new public policy on June 5, 2020 to temporarily exempt foreign workers in certain essential service sectors, such as, agriculture, agri-food and health-care sectors, from having to provide biometrics before coming to Canada, if their closest biometrics site is closed.

Canada recognizes the importance oftemporary foreign workers and their key role in helping to safeguard the continuity of Canada’s economy. Due to the ongoing service disruptions related to COVID-19, enter Canada because they are not able to comply with all requirements.

While some temporary foreign workers in essential occupations coming to Canada have already given their biometrics, some exempt workers, such as seasonal agricultural workers, will now be giving their biometrics on arrival at Canadian ports of entry (POEs). IRCC indicates that they will continue to perform security checks to ensure the safety and security of all Canadians.

Who is Covered under the Temporary Public Policy

Any temporary worker whose National Occupational Classification (NOC) falls under one of the following:

  1. Agricultural and Agri-food sectors
  2. Health-care sector
  3. Truck Drivers

 Quarantine Act

 For those entering Canada, they must ensure that they have a quarantine plan in place that includes a place to stay where there is no contact with vulnerable individuals for 14 days upon arrival in Canada. The requirement is mandatory under the Quarantine Act and anyone who fails to follow their plan, will face serious consequences, such as a fine up to $750,000, 6 months in jail, or inadmissibility and 1-year ban from Canada. Any employer who is responsible for housing their workers under an immigration plan, including, some agricultural employers, they are required to provide adequate accommodations that allow workers to quarantine.

Arriving by Port of Entry (POE)

Any temporary foreign workers who is entering Canada from a POE, they may be asked to provide biometrics at a POE in Canada.

Workers must also prove they are entering Canada for “essential purposes”. This includes a letter of introduction for a work permit AND a valid job offer to start employment after the 14- day quarantine period. Health screening measures will be implemented as well as providing an acceptable quarantine plan.

Applications Will Not Be Denied or Closed

 IRCC has indicated that ALL applications in progress, even those not covered under the new policy, will not denied should the visa application centres (VACs) or other biometrics collection sites in your home country or region remain closed, even if your biometric instruction letter (BIL) says that your deadline is 30 or 90 days. Biometrics will not be required until the biometrics collection sites re-open. You must check online to see when the VAC and other biometrics collection sites start to re-open and once they do, you should complete the steps, including making a biometrics appointment, as soon as possible to avoid further delays.