In a world marred by inconsistency and new challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing that has remained consistent during these trying times are frequent regulation changes for travel into Canada. The rules regarding entry into Canada changed again on February 28, 2022, in response to decreasing levels of COVID-19 within Canada and generally around the world. The Canadian government adjusted its Travel Health Notice where it now no longer recommends that Canadians avoid travel for non-essential purposes.
Despite the new regulations representing a relaxation of the stringent restrictions on travel that have been in place since the beginning of the pandemic, it is still important for prospective travellers to Canada to be aware of the regulations in order to ensure that they have the best chance of being granted entry into Canada through compliance with the regulations.
Part of the new regulations is what the government says is easing on-arrival COVID-19 testing for fully vaccinated travellers. There are still going to be travellers who are randomly selected for on-arrival testing upon entry into Canada, however this seems to suggest that less testing will be conducted. Also, now travellers awaiting on-arrival test results will no longer be required to quarantine while awaiting the result of their COVID-19 test. Vaccinated travellers will still need to have a quarantine plan and use the ArriveCAN app in order to enter Canada.
There is some continuity in the regulations as children under 12 years old who are travelling with fully vaccinated adults will still be exempt from any quarantine requirements upon entry into Canada. There is also continuity in the rules for unvaccinated travellers to Canada, who are required to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival in Canada, another test on day 8 after arrival, and quarantine for 14 days after arrival. Unvaccinated foreign nationals still cannot enter Canada unless they fit into one of the narrowly recognized exceptions for entry.
There has been some controversy over the pre-arrival COVID-19 testing requirement for entry into Canada. In the new regulations, the testing requirement remains, but there will be more options available to travelers to satisfy the testing requirement. Previously, travellers coming into Canada had to show proof of a negative molecular COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before the scheduled flight or arrival at a port of entry in order to meet the pre-entry requirements. Now, travellers have the option of using a molecular test, or a COVID-19 rapid antigen test taken a day prior to their scheduled flight or arrival at a land border. If a traveller opts for the rapid antigen test, they must ensure that it is a test that is authorized by the country in which it was purchased and it must be administered by a laboratory, healthcare entity or telehealth service. Taking a rapid antigen test at home that has not been authorized does not meet the requirement.
The conflict in Ukraine has created a dire situation for everyone in the country, and Ukrainian nationals who are abroad without permanent status. The Canadian government has taken steps since the beginning of the conflict to help those who have been impacted, including adding more ways to contact Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada in order to receive answers to immigration questions as quickly as possible.
The Canadian government is urgently processing new and replacement passports and travel documents for citizens and permanent residents of Canada in Ukraine, so they can return to Canada at any time. This measure includes document processing for immediate family members of people who are receiving the aforementioned documents who want to come with the person receiving the documents.
The Canadian government will further be prioritizing many applications to come to Canada for people who currently live in Ukraine. The applications included in the prioritization effort include permanent residence, proof of citizenship, temporary residence, and citizenship grants for adoption.
There will also be an extension of a temporary public policy that lets some visitors in Canada, including Ukrainians, apply for a work permit from within Canada. This means that people who receive a job offer can remain in Canada and begin working while their work permit application is processed. This extension will allow Ukrainians who may have had to return to Ukraine to remain in Canada longer. The government has indicated that it is working to make sure that Ukrainians working, studying, and living in Canada can stay in Canada.
The conflict in Ukraine has resulted in a mass exodus from the country, as more than 600,000 civilians have fled Ukraine since February 24. Recently, there was another refugee crisis when the Taliban took control of Afghanistan. After the Taliban took control, the Canadian government made a special allowance for Afghans to come to Canada as refugees.
There has been no word yet from the Canadian government on if there will be a special refugee allowance that will be allocated to Ukrainian citizens, in a similar fashion to the one that was created for Afghans. When Afghanistan fell, Minister of Immigration Marco Mendicino said:
“Offering refuge to the world’s most vulnerable speaks to who we are as Canadians, particularly in times of crisis.”
Given his words, it is likely we will see some sort of program created by the Canadian government for Ukrainian refugees at some point in the future.
Garson Immigration Law is a firm exclusively dedicated to the practice of immigration law. We successfully guide clients through the immigration process, with an eye toward the ever-changing regulations in light of COVID-19. We will work to find an effective solution for your individual immigration needs and ensure you are positioned for success with respect to your application.
The immigration lawyers at Garson Immigration Law are continuing to monitor the immigration fallout in relation to COVID-19, and will provide updates as the situation develops. If you have any questions about if you will be able to travel during these uncertain times, do not hesitate to reach out to us online or by calling us at 416-321-2860.