Non-essential travel between Canada and the United States has now been restricted for over a year, as the first regulations went into place on March 21, 2020. The status quo has been the two countries agree to extend the restrictions on a month-to-month basis, and that has continued to the present day, as the border is set to be closed through April 21, and almost certainly will be closed until at least the summer. Currently, there is no concrete plan between the two nations for when to open the border, although some United States Senators from border states have asked the President for a plan to reopen the border, in gradual phases tied to public health metrics.
Public health measures will likely play a large role in international travel for the foreseeable future, Countries will be monitoring not only their own vaccine rates but the vaccine rates of other countries in order to determine where their citizens will be able to travel. In fact, Canadian Federal Health Minister Patty Hadju has been in discussions with health officials from other G7 countries (France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, United States) regarding the need to coordinate the development of vaccine passports. Speaking about the issue, Minister Hadju said:
“We are having those conversations about what international travel might look like, and what kinds of criteria would need to go into any kind of vaccination certification process, and how we deal with the equity issues that will likely arise as a result of inequitable access to vaccination globally.”
For those who may be unaware, a vaccine passport is a document that shows that someone has been vaccinated for a specific illness. This concept is not novel to the novel coronavirus pandemic, as vaccine passports are already in use by some countries to ensure inoculation against illnesses like yellow fever or polio. The individual countries in the G7 have been developing their own proof of vaccine systems, as the United States announced it would be looking into a way to standardize evidence throughout the country that Americans had been vaccinated. Further, the European Union has its own version, called a Green Certificate that certifies that the holder has either been vaccinated, tested negative for COVID-19, or has recovered from COVID-19. Right now, Canada does not have a vaccine passport plan, although it is being considered by the Canadian government, particularly for international travel.
There is some discussion about the necessity of having vaccine passports within Canada, as there concerns about privacy and ethics regarding the use of such documents. Regardless of whether someone agrees with the policy, it may not matter whether the policy moves ahead in Canada. If other countries decide that a vaccine passport is required for entry, there will likely be few exemptions to that rule, and travellers will need to have a valid vaccine passport in order to enter those countries. One potential benefit of having vaccine passports would be allowing the holder to avoid quarantine in some jurisdictions and even countries if they are able to show they are vaccinated upon entry.
As of right now, there has not been an agreement that vaccine passports will be required for travel as countries are still discussing the issue. Discussions are still ongoing, and restrictions may be on a country-to-country basis. If you are planning to travel internationally in the near future, be sure to be on the lookout for these new regulations.
Garson Immigration Law is a firm exclusively dedicated to the practice of immigration law. We successfully guide clients through the various immigration processes in Canada and the U.S. 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 on both sides of the border and will provide updates as the situation develops. If you have any questions about your potential classification as essential or about how you should comply with the changing regulations, do not hesitate to reach out to us online or by calling us at 416-321-2860.