COVID-19: Certain Business Travellers Can Still Come to Canada

COVID-19: Certain Business Travellers Can Still Come to Canada
Canada immigration free assessment

Despite all the hype surrounding Canada’s air and land travel restrictions, business travel is still thriving for many industry sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Immigrants coming to Canada under the Start-Up Visa Program to set up businesses and create jobs are still being welcomed with open arms. Under that program, 140 business people came to Canada and obtained their permanent residence in the first six months of 2020 alone.

But it’s not just those starting up businesses that are welcome. 

Business travellers – many of whom are foreign nationals seeking permanent residence in Canada through economic immigration programs – are able to travel to Canada to provide critical infrastructure support, economic services, supply chains, or any other activity considered essential by Ottawa. 

Although COVID-19 travel restrictions have put a damper on immigration to Canada, economic immigration programs still allowed 65,830 foreign nationals to get their permanent residence in Canada during the first six months of 2020.

Under current travel restrictions, Ottawa makes a distinction between non-Canadian travellers arriving to Canada from the United States and those coming from countries other than the U.S.

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Regardless of their country of origin, all asymptomatic persons entering Canada must quarantine themselves for 14 days. 

Every foreign national coming from a country other than the United States by air has to have a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before boarding their flight and qualify for a travel exemption.

Those exemptions include:

  • temporary foreign workers;
  • some international students;
  • some people who have been approved to become a permanent resident of Canada, but who are not yet permanent residents;
  • immediate family members with written authorization from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to reunite with a temporary resident of Canada;
  • transiting passengers;
  • members of the Canadian forces, visiting forces coming to perform official duties, Department of National Defence and their immediate family members;
  • accredited diplomats and their immediate family members;
  • air and marine crew members;
  • French citizens who live in Saint-Pierre and Miquelon and have been in only Canada, the US or Saint-Pierre and Miquelon during the 14 days before the day they seek to enter Canada;
  • any person who does not pose a significant harm to public health, in the opinion of the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, and who will provide an essential service while in Canada, or;
  • any person whose presence in Canada is in the national interest, in the opinion of the immigration, public safety and emergency preparedness or foreign affairs minister.

Whether they are coming to Canada by air from the United States or another country, all newcomers are required to take a COVID-19 molecular test upon arrival and then self-isolate in a designated hotel at their own cost for three days.

As of Feb. 15, that requirement for testing upon arrival in Canada will also apply to anyone coming to Canada by land from the United States.

Since non-essential travel to Canada is currently prohibited under the COVID-19 restrictions – excluding those exemptions for foreign nationals – Public Safety Canada has put together a list of essential services to provide guidance for business travelers who want to come to Canada.

Business travelers coming to Canada from the United States during the pandemic need to demonstrate to border officials that they will meet one of the needs identified under Public Safety Canada’s list of essential services and workers.

That list includes but is not limited to:

  • Healthcare workers who provide direct care such as physicians, nurses, and dentists;
  • Hospital and laboratory personnel;
  • Workers in other medical facilities;
  • Manufacturers, technicians, logistics and warehouse operators, and distributors of medical equipment or those offering medical cleaning services;
  • Public health workers;
  • Managers of health plans, billing, and health information, who cannot practically work remotely;
  • Workers performing cybersecurity functions at healthcare and public health facilities;
  • Security, incident management, and emergency operations functions at or on behalf of healthcare entities;

Food Production, Drinking Water and Wastewater Services Deemed Essential

  • Workers who support food, shelter, and social services, addictions treatment and outreach, supervised consumption sites and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged;
  • Pharmacy employees;
  • Mortuary services;
  • Personal home support service workers;
  • Construction workers on healthcare, water or wastewater facilities;
  • Drinking and wastewater infrastructure workers;
  • Grocery and pharmacy workers;
  • Restaurant employees necessary to support take-out and food delivery operations;
  • Food manufacturers, their suppliers and their employees;
  • Animal food, feed, by-product and ingredient production, processing, packaging, and distribution; 
  • Veterinary drug operations;
  • Agriculture and aquaculture workers and support service workers;
  • Firms supporting food, feed, and beverage distribution, including warehouse workers, vendor-managed inventory controllers;
  • Sanitation of all food manufacturing processes and operations from wholesale to retail;
  • Food testing labs;
  • Production of chemicals, medicines, vaccines, and other substances used by the food and agriculture industry;
  • IT workers in the food sector;
  • Communications infrastructure maintenance workers;

Canada’s Media and Media Infrastructure Vital

  • Media employees;
  • Media infrastructure, including engineering of fibre optic cables and wireless sites;
  • Installation, maintenance and repair technicians that establish, support or repair service;
  • Central office personnel to maintain and operate central office, data centres, and other network office facilities;
  • Customer service and support staff, including managed and professional services as well as remote providers of support to transitioning employees to set up and maintain home offices;
  • Dispatchers involved with service repair, restoration, supply chain operations;
  • Critical corporate support functions in the IT and communications sectors, such as human resources, payroll, communications, security, finance, procurement, and real estate operations that support the customer and internal company networks;
  • Network operations command, broadcast operations control and security operations command centre employees;
  • Data centre operators;
  • Client service centres, field engineers, and other technicians supporting critical infrastructure;
  • Workers responding to cyber incidents;
  • Cloud computing services, business infrastructure, web-based services, and critical manufacturing;
  • Workers supporting communications systems and information technology used by critical infrastructure stakeholders;
  • Electrical industry workers, including those who maintain, ensure, or restore the generation, transmission, and distribution of electric power;
  • Workers required to carry out construction and restoration projects and services associated with the electricity sector, including for the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity power
  • Workers needed for safe and secure operations at nuclear generation
  • Workers at generation, transmission, and electric black start facilities
  • Workers at needed for operations at independent system operators, regional transmission organizations, and balancing authorities

IT Experts Serving Essential Sectors Can Travel 

  • IT and OT technology staff – for energy management systems and supervisory control and data acquisition systems, and utility data centres; cybersecurity engineers; cybersecurity risk management;
  • Vegetation management crews;
  • Environmental remediation/monitoring technicians;
  • Instrumentation, protection, and control technicians;
  • Workers needed to support electric vehicle charging stations and electricity distribution systems that support them;
  • Natural and propane gas workers;
  • Workers who maintain, ensure, or restore the compression, storage, transmission, and distribution of natural gas, including call centres, utility workers, reliability engineers and fleet maintenance technicians;
  • Workers required to carry out construction and restoration projects and services associated with the natural gas sector, including for the storage, compression, transmission and distribution of natural gas;
  • Workers at compressor stations, underground storage facilities for natural gas, natural gas processing plants, those that deal with natural gas liquids, compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas facilities;
  • Workers involved in drilling, production, processing, refining, and transporting natural gas for use as end-use fuels, feed stocks for chemical manufacturing, or use in electricity generation;
  • Propane gas storage, transmission, and distribution centres;
  • Oil industry workers, including those involved in product storage, pipelines, marine transport, terminals, rail transport, road transport, refineries, drilling and extraction of resources, or security operations;
  • Gas stations and truck stops, and the distribution systems that support them;
  • Support to oil spills and other hazardous material response and cleanup;

Transportation Industry Workers Are Essential

  • Anyone in the transportation sector supporting the continued essential movement of goods and people, including truckers, dispatchers, repair technicians, shipping facility workers, administrative and support service employees, railroad crews and controllers;
  • Maritime transportation workers;
  • Emergency transportation service employees;
  • Transportation workers involved in construction work and necessary supporting services;
  • Suppliers to the transportation system, such as clearing snow, collision response, and completing needed repairs to the transportation system;
  • Mechanics;
  • Postal and shipping workers;
  • Tow truck and vehicle rental workers;
  • Pilots, flight attendants and flight crew, air traffic controllers, ramp personnel, aviation security, and aviation management;
  • Public/mass transportation workers;
  • Workers from the upstream supply chain for essential services needed to support critical infrastructure;
  • Workers necessary for the manufacturing of inputs, materials and products needed for medical devices and drug supply chains, transportation, shipping, energy, communications, aerospace, shipbuilding, food and agriculture, chemical manufacturing, nuclear facilities, sanitation, water and wastewater treatment, banknotes, emergency services and defence and security;
  • Workers who support the metals distribution supply chain, including metal manufacturing, metal-casting, parts, and machining;
  • Workers who support the manufacture and distribution of forestry products, including, but not limited to timber, paper, and other wood products;
  • Workers necessary for manufacturing, maintenance, and servicing in the defense and aerospace sectors;
  • Primary metal producers;
  • Mining and logging industry workers;
  • Manufacturing sector employees needed to produce materials and products for the oil and gas sector;
  • Businesses that ensure global continuity of supply of mining and mineral materials and products, and that support supply chains in Canada;
  • Smelters, refiners and recyclers;
  • Mineral exploration and development; 
  • Financial industry workers needed to support transactions;
  • Workers who are needed to provide consumer and business access to banking and lending services;
  • Police, guards and emergency management workers and systems, essentially front line, management and essential support staff;
  • Search and Rescue services;

Essential Trades Working In Home and Office Repair

  • Plumbers, electricians, exterminators, escalator and elevator mechanics, home appliance service providers;
  • Ecommerce providers and employees;
  • HVAC companies and their employees;
  • Teachers;
  • Hotel Workers where hotels are used for COVID-19 mitigation and containment measures;
  • Care and maintenance of contaminated sites;
  • Waste and garbage collectors and processors;
  • Child care services for essential workers, and home child care services of less than six children;
  • Mental health services;
  • Professional and other services that support lawmakers and the court system to ensure individuals have access to justice where critical interests are at stake;
  • Probation Officers;
  • Veterinarians, veterinary technicians and necessary support staff;
  • Janitorial and cleaning services;
  • Health and welfare of animals, including boarding kennels, stables, animal shelters, zoos, aquariums, research facilities and other service providers;
  • Suppliers of office products and services;
  • Hotel employees;
  • Land registration, real estate, home inspection, and moving services, and;
  • Workers necessary to providing freight forwarding and customs brokerage services.

Mendicino Calls Immigration ‘Essential’ To Economic Recovery

Ottawa remains bullish on immigration and has raised immigration targets to bring in more than ever. 

Canadian Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino has described immigration, including economic immigration, as critical to helping the country rebuild its economy in the wake of the pandemic.

“Immigration is essential to getting us through the pandemic, but also to our short-term economic recovery and our long-term economic growth,” he said. “Canadians have seen how newcomers are playing an outsized role in our hospitals and care homes and helping us to keep food on the table.

“As we look to recovery, newcomers create jobs not just by giving our businesses the skills they need to thrive, but also by starting businesses themselves,” he said. “Our plan will help to address some of our most acute labour shortages and to grow our population to keep Canada competitive on the world stage.”

The federal government wants to welcome more than 1.2 million newcomers between 2021 and 2023. There are to be 401,000 new permanent residents to Canada this year, 411,000 next year, and 421,000 in 2023.


Canada immigration free assessment