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Moving to Canada from the US during COVID-19

Posted on May 25, 2020
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Migrate to Canada

Canada is allowing US citizens and foreign nationals in the US to immigrate to the country even during the time of Coronavirus. Those wishing to come to Canada must prove that they have an essential reason to come to the country.

This is because Canada does not follow strict rules for allowing entry of people from the US. The Canadian government lists the following reasons as essential:

  • You must come to Canada either for work or study
  • You relate to the provision of critical infrastructure support that includes services crucial to Canadian citizens and the government of Canada
  • You have a family in Canada and must reunite with them

Decision of CBSA

Ultimately the agents of the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) will decide if the reasons given by travelers for arriving in Canada are considered ‘essential.’  The CBSA has its own set of criteria for deciding whether applicants can be admitted to Canada or not.

Special immigration procedures for US citizens

U.S. citizens may be eligible for quick processing while applying for a work permit under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which is to be changed to the Canada United States Mexico Agreement (CUSMA). A Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) is not usually necessary for such work permits. NAFTA has three categories:

  • NAFTA Professional: This is for people who are qualified to work in one of the 60 designated professions, such as medicine, science, teaching, law, finance, and others.
  • NAFTA Intra-Company Transfer: This is for applicants who have worked for a U.S.-based branch of a company for at least one year in a position that requires special knowledge.
  • NAFTA Traders and Investors: This is for applicants who wish to trade goods or services or investors who have invested in Canadian business.

Intra-Company Transfer

Companies with locations in both Canada and the U.S. can send employees to Canada. The Intra-Company Transfer System allows workers employed in the U.S. to operate at the Canadian location of a corporation with no requirement of LMIA.

Global Talent Stream

This fast-track process is available for US citizens. This stream is for those with eligible job offers in Canada’s tech sector. Under this steam, work visa will be processed within two weeks.

Before you travel to Canada

If you wish to travel to Canada, you must not have any symptoms of Coronavirus then you will not be allowed to cross the border.

Ensure that your application is well documented. If you are moving to Canada for work, ensure that you make it clear that you have a job in Canada waiting for you, and that your job is an essential service. It should also be made clear that your entry is non-discretionary and non-optional. For example, if your duties can be performed remotely, traveling to Canada for work may be considered “optional.”

For reuniting with family, provide written evidence of your relationship with the immediate member of the family, their position in Canada, and the reason you need to cross the border to see them. The explanation should be linked to permanently reuniting or taking care of someone who may otherwise not be able to get treatment in Canada.

Before you move to Canada, ensure that you have a detailed plan for self-isolation.

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