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 policies that Canada has made in light of the ongoing 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.
In order to come to Canada, you must be considered essential. Since the onset of the pandemic in March, there have been three Orders in Council (“OIC”) that govern Canadian immigration law. These OICs dictate who is allowed into the country, and the conditions that must be followed in order to access Canada:
When considering these OICs, it is important to note there are some specific exemptions that allow people with certain status, or relation to a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to enter Canada. In June, a rule change by the government allowed for immediate family members to enter without needing to show they are coming to Canada for an essential purpose.
Immediate family members of Canadian citizens can enter Canada, provided they meet the criteria for entry and follow certain precautions:
Now, it is not just immediate family members who can enter Canada, as there was another exemption for extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents. This exemption requires:
If you have more documentation to prove your relationship, bring it to the border in case the CBSA officer asks. Remember that the CBSA officer has the authority to refuse you, so bring extra documentation to the port in order to increase your chance of being admitted into Canada. It is important to note that people on temporary work permits cannot have their family members come under this rule.
There have recently been some public policy updates that will benefit people in Canada who are uncertain of their status as a result of COVID-19 related consequences.
Another tip: when applying for these new work permits, always apply for the maximum amount of time you can under the program that you are applying under. In our experience, the government will not deny your work permit for asking for the maximum amount of time you can.
A 14-day quarantine is required for anyone coming into Canada unless they can prove that they should be exempt from quarantine. In order to prove you should be exempt, you have to prove that your essentiality overrides the need to quarantine. When asking for a quarantine exemption, there are two different avenues in which you can take in order to try and obtain the exemption.
In our experience, visitors to Canada have had more success making the case for exemption at the port of entry when compared with making a pre-application to Public Health Canada.
Alternatively, you may be granted a modified exemption whereby you have to quarantine, except for in specific circumstances such as going to work. If a modified exemption is granted it may be granted in such a way that you are essential in quarantine, but you are allowed to leave quarantine only to travel to and from work.
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.