Last week, our firm’s own David Garson and Jessica Ravenhurst hosted a webinar for clients in order to clear up some of the confusion surrounding the recent changes to immigration policy that Canada has made in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are looking to travel to Canada and worried about how the travel restrictions and quarantine protocol may impact you, the full webinar is available to view at the link posted below.

Travel Restrictions

As you may already know, the Canadian border is “closed” until at least July 21, 2020. If you are a Canadian citizen, this does not apply to you, as Canadians are always allowed to enter Canada. In addition, those who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents who qualify as “essential” travellers are permitted to cross the border. The distinction between essential and non-essential travel can be murky, so if you are looking to travel to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to be prepared to justify why you should be allowed entry into Canada. Further, the travel restrictions are slightly different depending on if you are travelling to Canada from the U.S. or from anywhere else in the world.

Travellers to Canada from the U.S.

  • Foreign nationals are prohibited from entry if travelling for “optional or discretionary purpose”, such as tourism, recreation or entertainment.
  • Exemptions include:
    • If entering for work:
      • Work travel must be viewed as non-optional, and CBSA officers retain a large amount of discretion when making the decision to admit you into Canada. For this reason, it is important to be prepared to justify why you, and your entry into Canada, are essential.
      • Those entering Canada from the U.S. can apply for a work permit at the port of entry.

Travellers to Canada from Outside the U.S.

  • There is a blanket prohibition on travel to Canada from outside the U.S. except for those who fit within the following exemptions:
    • Immediate family members of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident;
    • An immediate family member of a foreign national resident of Canada (an authorization letter from IRCC is required);
    • Work permit holders or holders of a work permit approval notice:
      • Unlike those coming from the U.S., if you are visa-exempt you can no longer apply for a permit at the port of entry. You must be pre-approved for a work permit at a consulate prior to entry.
    • Study permit holders or holders of study permit approval notice issued before March 18, 2020;
    • Those deemed by the Public Health Agency of Canada to provide an essential service;
    • Those whose presence is deemed by a Designated Minister to be in the national interest:
      • A foreign national can request a pre-opinion from a Designated Minister to determine if their presence is of national interest;
      • This exemption is extremely discretionary and made on a case by case basis by the Designated Minister.

Quarantine Procedure Upon Entry Into Canada

All persons entering Canada must isolate for 14 days. This quarantine procedure applies to all people, regardless of citizenship or status in Canada. If you are allowed entry into Canada, you must quarantine in order to comply with the law. Upon arrival at the port of entry, you must be able to present a credible quarantine plan to CBSA. Further, CBSA may check up on you to see if you are quarantining properly. If they do decide to check up on you, they will likely call you, but in rare cases, they have been known to check up on people in person. If you do not follow the quarantine procedures, you could be fined up to $1,000,000 and charged criminally.

The following classes of people are exempt from the quarantine rules:

  • Part of a deemed class of persons, including:
    • Persons in trade or transportation;
    • Persons who must cross the border regularly for employment, including critical infrastructure workers;
    • Technicians/specialists required to inspect, maintain, or repair equipment necessary to support critical infrastructure;
      • You must prove to the department of health that you satisfy these exemptions;
  • Those who are determined exempt by a quarantine officer at the port of entry (this is discretionary).

How We Can Help

We recognize that people have questions about the Canadian border situation, and many of the intricacies regarding the current situation were likely addressed by David and Jessica in our webinar. To view the full webinar on the topics addressed above, please click here.

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 being able to cross the border 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.

Contact Us

For all questions and inquiries, call or email us via our form below<

4950 Yonge St., # 302
Toronto, ON M2N 6K1

Fax: (416) 512-6107