At Edelmann & Company, we know that the COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented
challenges for all members of Canadian society, but that refugee claimants, permanent residents,
and other noncitizens may face particular challenges as a result of the pandemic and the
resulting shutdown, including social isolation policies.

In particular, the closure of many international borders, including the Canada/U.S. border, to
most travel may mean a longer period of separation of families who are already coping with the
challenges of maintaining relationships across borders.

We are also aware that noncitizens who are eager to advance to the next step of their
immigration application, whether it be a refugee hearing, a Federal Court judicial review hearing,
or any other matter, might be anxiously wondering what’s coming next.

Our team of lawyers and support staff are committed to assisting you in your time of need. That
is why we are offering free half hour phone consultations to those who have immigration and
refugee law questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic and who are unable to afford the cost
of legal services at this time.

We understand that many individuals are in a difficult financial situation as a result of the
pandemic and that some persons may be disproportionately impacted, including persons with
lower incomes, refugee claimants, persons who recently lost their status or their employment,
migrant workers, racialized individuals, persons with disabilities, and others. Preference will
therefore be given to these persons in accordance with our availability.

If you would like to schedule a free consultation with one of the experienced lawyers at
Edelmann & Co, please click here.

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We are also happy to try to connect you to information and resources that may be useful for
noncitizens in this time of need:

General Resources
The Canadian Council for Refugees is maintaining an up-to-date resource page for refugee claimants, temporary foreign workers, and other noncitizens on the impact of COVID-19. Please click here for a list of those resources, and here for a list of questions and answers.

Immigration and Refugee Board
All in person hearings and mediations, other than detention reviews, are postponed effective
Tuesday March 17, 2020 through Sunday, May 5, 2020. For more information, click here.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
As of March 21, 2020, the Canadian government placed a 30-day restriction on all non-essential
travel to Canada, with the following exceptions:

  • immediate family members of a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident (provided they
    are not coming for discretionary / tourism-type purposes), which refers to a:

    • spouse or common-law partner
    • dependent child of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner
    • dependent child of a dependent child
    • parent or step-parent of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner
    • guardian or tutor
  • the holder of a valid work permit or a study permit
  • a person who has received written notice of approval for a work permit, but who has not yet been issued the permit
  • a person who has received written notice of approval for a study permit before 12 pm EDT on March 18, 2020, but who has not yet been issued the permit
  • a person whose application for permanent residence was approved and who received written notice of the approval before 12 pm EDT on March 18, 2020, but who has not yet become a permanent resident
  • people registered under Canada’s Indian Act
  • protected persons
  • foreign nationals travelling at the invitation of the Canadian government for a purpose related to the containment of COVID-19
  • a person who is authorized, in writing, by a consular officer of the Government of Canada to enter Canada for the purpose of reuniting immediate family members
  • transiting passengers

For more information, click here and here.

Health care
The BC government has expanded medical (MSP) coverage to all uninsured people for COVID-
19 testing and treatment, regardless of immigration status, which means that all migrants in BC
(including newly-landed permanent residents, temporary foreign workers, international students,
those who have been rendered undocumented and those who have been stuck here since the
borders closed) will have vital access to COVID-19 related health care. For more information,
click here and here.

Employment matters
BC has introduced job-protected leave for employees who cannot report to work due to COVID-
19. For more information, click here. Noncitizens whose ability to work has been negatively
impacted by the pandemic may also qualify for financial assistance from the province. Click here
for more information. If you have employment related questions, the Migrant Workers Center is
a great resource and is continuing to offer support and information by phone during the
pandemic. To book an appointment, call 604-669-4482.

Community Services
SOS is continuing to support refugee claimants during the COVID pandemic. They are able to
provide referrals for social assistance, banking, food banks, health services, employment programs, psychosocial trauma supports and more. To book an appointment, send an email to
sosreception@sosbc.ca. Services are provided in a variety of different languages.

MCCBC (the Mennonite Central Committee of BC) is continuing to assist noncitizens remotely
for purposes of applications for open work permits, B.C. Housing, health insurance, income
assistance, employment insurance (including COVID-19 related applications), and general
orientation for those in need of resources. For assistance, email Teresa at teresafuller@mccbc.ca
or call 778-867-3848. Services are provided in both Spanish and English.

For legal professionals who are looking for concise updates in regards to the closures of
courts, tribunals, and other immigration-related services, please click here.