“This is an important decision that will keep people in both of our countries safe”
While the Canada-U.S. border is ostensibly officially closed apart from the Canadian Border Services Agency exceptions, in reality only the land border is closed. If Canadians want to travel to the U.S. and they are worried they will not fit into a recognized exception, they can simply fly instead of drive. United States Customs and Border Protect has indicated that its travel restrictions apply only to Canadians trying to enter the U.S. at a land border crossing, which includes travel by car, train, ferry and pleasure boats. Canadian air passengers can still enter the U.S. as long as they have not visited certain other countries in the last 14 days before their arrival to the U.S.
Further, the U.S. 14-day self-isolation rules are not applied federally, but rather on a state by state basis. This means that depending on where in the U.S. one travels to, they may have to self-isolate for 14 days, just like travellers coming into Canada have to. For example, people travelling to Hawaii will have to self-isolate for 14 days.
If you are considering travelling to the U.S. right now, there are many things you should take into account before making the ultimate decision to travel. For instance, if you are not a Canadian citizen or permanent legal resident, you may be turned away when trying to re-enter Canada after your trip. Also, if you are allowed into Canada, you will need to have a 14-day self-isolation plan and adhere to it, or you may be at risk of fines or even jail time. So, even if you are travelling to a U.S. state that does not require self-isolation, you have to be prepared to self-isolate upon return to Canada.
Another consideration you should make is insurance for your trip, both cancellation and medical. At this point in time, insurance providers consider the virus to be a “known” issue, and therefore you may not be able to obtain cancellation insurance depending on your insurance provider. Further, at least five Canadian insurance providers have indicated internally that they will factor in the government travel advisory when customers make claims. Also, it is likely that Canadians who travel outside of Canada will not have medical coverage if they contract COVID-19. Insurance providers have made it clear that they will not pay for COVID-19 related medical coverage which could leave travellers who contract the virus with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt if they have to be treated in a foreign country.
While travel to other countries, including the U.S., for non-essential purposes is technically allowed, it still is not recommended because of the health and monetary related risks that come with international travel at this point. Especially given the recent exceptions to the essential rules that have recently come out. If the COVID-19 situation continues to improve, it is likely that border restrictions will be lifted and the risk of travelling will decrease. However, if there is a second spike in COVID-19 cases, as was predicted last month, it would be advisable to wait to travel until the situation is further resolved.
If you do need to travel to the U.S. and think you will not qualify as essential, you should fly there in order to increase your chance of being allowed into the country. If you think you qualify as essential, you can cross at a land border, just know that there is a chance you will not be permitted entry, and the decision is at the discretion of the border agents.
With the situation being as fluid as it is, it is of the utmost importance to stay informed and make good decisions if you are planning to travel. If you are worried about being able to travel we are here to help.
The immigration lawyers at Garson Immigration Law are continuing to monitor the developing situation in relation to COVID-19 and will provide updates as the situation develops. If you have any questions about crossing the border or your immigration status in relation to the changing regulations, please reach out to us online or by calling us at 416-321-2860.