COVID-19 FAQ for Academics

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Immigration & Relocation Services Recent News & Updates:

Entering Canada

Can I still enter Canada if I am currently working or relocating there?

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has introduced many travel restrictions, especially to foreign travellers. However, Public Safety Canada includes “Educators supporting… schools, colleges, and universities for purposes of facilitating distance learning or performing other essential functions if operating under guidelines for social distancing” in the list of Essential Services and Functions (critical infrastructure sector). Travel for employment in education is therefore deemed essential and is permitted during the Quarantine Act.[1]

To be admitted entry to Canada, employees must provide the following:

    • Evidence of employment as a York University faculty member.
    • A work permit/work permit approval letter issued by IRCC to be able to board a plane to Canada, clearly naming York University as your employer, your job title, and that the university continues to operate and your services are still required.
    • Evidence that travel is nondiscretionary or essential (if travelling from outside the US).

Before your flight, ensure you have[2]:

    • A realistic and detailed plan for a 14-day period of self-isolated quarantine
    • Non-medical facemask
    • Not exhibiting any symptoms related to COVID-19
    • Documentation of a negative COVID-19 molecular test taken up to 72 hours before your scheduled departure time
    • Confirmation of a reservation at a government-approved hotel for a 3-night quarantine after entering Canada

[1] "Essential" refers to travel for reasons that are non-discretionary and non-optional. The emergency orders under the Quarantine Act do not allow people to travel to Canada for optional or discretionary reasons, such as for tourism, recreation or entertainment.

[2] See the following Government of Canada webpage for more detailed restrictions based on country of departure (the US or outside the US).

Can my family members join me in Canada?

The Government of Canada has exempted immediate family members of Canadian citizens or permanent residents from pandemic travel restrictions. However, immediate family members of temporary workers need written authorization from IRCC to reunite or travel with the work permit holder. All other travel requirements must be met to enter the country.

Click on the following links for more information on temporary foreign workers and visitors.

Can a non-Canadian professor currently visit York University to research during their sabbatical if they have a visa (or eTA)?

During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has introduced travel restrictions that heavily impact foreign nationals wanting to travel to Canada. The emergency orders under the Quarantine Act do not allow people to travel to Canada for optional or discretionary reasons, such as for tourism, recreation or entertainment. Until further notice, you should avoid visiting Canada, even if you have a valid visitor visa or electronic travel authorization (eTA) as your travels would likely be deemed a non-essential, optional (discretionary) purpose. It is strongly advised to avoid coming to Canada until travel restrictions are relaxed.

However, if you hold a valid job offer and have been approved for a work permit, your travel is considered non-optional or non-discretionary, allowing you to come to Canada as a foreign worker.

What information do I need to provide York before my arrival?

Quarantine/Isolation: You must have a plan to quarantine or self-isolate for 14 days when you arrive in Canada. If you do not have a quarantine plan, you will not be permitted entry to Canada. It is very important that you advise York of your planned arrival date in advance of your arrival and send confirmation as soon as you arrive. York requires this information for Employer Compliance reasons, so we can assist you with your self-isolation (quarantine) plan and advise the government of your arrival (the latter only applies to those on LMIA-based work permits). Please connect with the Immigration & Relocation Officer to learn how the university can cover the cost of essential quarantine services.

Transportation: You must use private transportation such as an airport limousine, taxi, or rideshare (such as Lyft or Uber).  Do not use public transportation to get to your place of isolation. You must wear a non-medical mask or face covering while traveling to your place of isolation.

If you do not have private transportation or an adequate place to isolate, the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada will designate a facility where you must isolate for 14 days.

Accommodations: Your plan will need to confirm that you have suitable accommodations to quarantine for 14-days, have access to necessities (i.e., water, food, medication, and heat) without leaving quarantine, can avoid contact with people you have not travelled with, and will have no visits from family or guests. This plan must also include confirmation of your mandatory 3-day stay at a government-approved hotel after entering the country. To learn how York can cover the cost of your accommodations please contact the Immigration & Relocation Officer.

Social & Health Insurance: Once in Canada, having received your work permit, you will need to apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) and advise York of your SIN. Please visit our Social Insurance Number webpage for more information on how to apply. You will also need to apply for the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) and will require proof of your Ontario residential address plus other documentation. Please visit our Healthcare webpage for more information on how to apply.

Can I visit Canada for my interview and to find housing?

Interview and move-preparation visits are deemed unessential until further notice. Most people cannot travel to Canada, even if they have a valid visitor visa or electronic travel authorization (eTA). Avoid making plans to enter Canada until you hold a valid work permit or approval for one and are relocating temporarily or permanently.


Can York provide accommodations for incoming staff to quarantine/self-isolate?

The University will pay for the cost of your hotel room for the 15-night stay. This includes three meals per day for the duration of your stay. Any additional costs associated with your stay must be paid by you. With this option you will spend the mandatory 3-day period in a government-approved hotel, after this time there will be a hotel shuttle service available to bring you to a York-preferred hotel to complete your quarantine.

Please contact the Immigration & Relocation Officer for more details.

Should you wish to extend your stay, please speak with the hotel who may be able to offer you York’s package and preferred rate, however, this is not guaranteed.

Will I be paid for the mandarory 14-day quarantine period?

The government requires that workers be compensated during the 14-day self-isolation/quarantine period. Ideally, the start of this period will coincide with your official start date. It is important to discuss your arrival plans with York and advise us of your arrival to ensure compliance requirements are met and payroll arranged so you can be paid for these 14 days.

Work Permits

How can I get a visa for entry?

If you apply for your work permit and visa, they will be processed simultaneously, however visa applications are currently on hold except for travel and work deemed essential. All temporary foreign workers and some international students can travel to Canada for an essential (non-discretionary) purpose. Due to COVID-19, please expect longer processing times than usual.

I have a new job offer at York. Do I need to update my immigration papers?

It may be possible to start your new position prior to receiving your new work permit. Please check by reviewing the public policy exemptions to work permit conditions when changing employment at the Government of Canada website.

I will not be able to receive my work permit in time for my start date and I am wary of travelling due to the risks associated with COVID-19. What are my options?

Please contact your hiring unit to discuss your concerns and what options might be possible. Curricular needs and your LMIA validity period will factor into those discussions.

If considering delaying your start date but you will require an LMIA-based work permit, please speak with the Immigration & Relocation Officer before finalizing any plans. Your LMIA decision has an expiration date before which you must apply for and receive your work permit. If the LMIA decision expires, you will not be able to receive your work permit.

If you are a postdoc (Postdoctoral Fellow or Postdoctoral Visitor), please discuss the possibility of postponing your start date with your host/PI.

My contract has been extended. How can I extend my work permit?

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada is still processing work permit applications. However, as processing times have increased, priority is given to essential workers in critical and key industries. If your initial work permit was based on an LMIA, please contact the Immigration and Relocation Officer to see if you will require a subsequent LMIA. If your position is LMIA exempt, please contact the Dean’s Office of your Faculty in order to obtain a new Offer Number and Employer Compliance receipt so that you can apply to extend your work permit. You will have implied status if you submit your new work permit application before your current work permit expires and do not leave Canada whilst awaiting your new work permit.

I am qualified for updated immigration status (new work visa, permanent residence, etc.). How do I apply?

If you are already in Canada and need to renew your work permit, you should fill out an online work permit extension application. If you have a pending PR application, IRCC has been finalizing these applications without the need to go to the border or attend an interview.

Exception: Applicants entering Canada from the US may apply for an initial work permit and biometrics simultaneouslyin-person at the Point of Entry.


How can I get biometrics for my work permit right now?

Work permit applicants are still required to provide biometrics and undergo medical examination, as is the standard in the application process. As many Visa Application Centres are closed both in Canada and abroad, this presents a delay in processing of application.

If you are outside Canada, you may submit your work permit application and will be placed on hold until biometric materials can be provided. The deadline has been automatically extended to 90 days from the usual 30 to provide applicants with ample time to obtain and provide the IRCC with biometric and medical information (fingerprints, photo, and $85 application fee).[1]

If you are already in Canada with valid temporary resident status and the Service Canada office serving the area you live is temporarily closed and not collecting biometrics due to the pandemic, still submit your work permit application. Due to the current circumstances, the biometrics requirement will be waived if you meet the requirements outlined in the public policy on exemptions to work permit conditions.

If on implied status and waiting to start a new position, this same public policy could allow you to start your new job whilst you wait to receive a decision on your work permit application. Please check that you meet the requirements to benefit from the exemption.

[1] Note that IRCC continues to take in new applications for work permits, permanent residence and citizenship, so applications can continue to be filed.  Service Canada continues to take in and process LMIA applications as well as GTS LMIA applications for tech occupations.

COVID-19 Resources