In order to control and moderate the spread of COVID-19, the Government of Canada has implemented some border restrictions for those who want to enter Canada:
The Government has been adamant about people traveling sick or with symptoms that may be due to COVID-19. If you are not a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident of Canada, a person with status under the Indian Act or a protected person, you will not be allowed to enter Canada if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
In fact, Commercial airline restrictions may also prevent you from boarding your plane if you’re sick or if you don’t have enough reasons or proof that your travel to Canada is non-discretionary.
Additionally, if a traveler’s entry is permitted, they’ll be subject to a mandatory quarantine for 14 days. Currently there are no exemptions from the mandatory quarantine, however, you may be able, upon request, to have a limited release from it for compassionate reasons, such as supporting loved ones that are critically ill or attending funerals.
In this post we will discuss the restrictions and exceptions that exist in relation to international students, international workers, permanent residents (1st entry into Canada) and visitors.
We emphasize here that the rules and exceptions are constantly changing according to the situation of COVID-19 in Canada and therefore we recommend that everyone check the official website of the Government of Canada for updated information and whether the rules still remain in place.
You may be able to enter Canada if you are able to prove that you are travelling for an essential (non-discretionary) purpose and:
How do I know if my travelling will be considered non-discretionary? An immigration officer will analyze your case and supporting documents in order to make the final decision on whether your reason is non-discretionary, but some of the reasons may be the following:
It is important to highlight that the list above only exemplifies some of the reasons and cannot in any way be considered as a guarantee for entry into Canada. In addition, it is recommended to obtain undoubted proof of each of the factors that justify your entry in order to reduce the chances of a refusal by the immigration officer.
Recently, the Government of Canada issued a new rule stating that DLIs with a COVID-19 readiness plan approved by their province (or territory) will be able to reopen to international students who are currently outside Canada, starting on October 20, 2020.
The list of DLIs with an approved COVID-19 readiness plan in place will be posted on IRCC’s web page for international students affected by COVID-19 restrictions and updated regularly as provinces and territories identify additional schools.
That said, if you are an international student and plan to come or to re-enter Canada on or after October 20, 2020, you must make sure, before you travel to Canada, that your DLI is on the list of DLIs with approved COVID-19 readiness plans. It is important to say that such change will apply to all international students, whether you’re travelling from the United States or from any other country and it also includes the students that were already in Canada and have left the country for any reason.
Finally, if an international student entry is permitted, they’ll be subject to mandatory quarantine for 14 days.
The precautions to be followed before, during and after your trip are the same as those mentioned above for international students.
As a worker, your travel is essential (non-discretionary) and you can be allowed into Canada if you’re in either of these situations:
Your travel is considered non-essential if:
If your Canadian permanent residence has been approved by March 18, 2020 and you have not yet entered Canada, you may be allowed to enter the country, provided you follow the necessary care and safety instructions mentioned above.
You also are exempt from the current travel restrictions and can come to Canada if:
Even if you have a tourist visa or a valid ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization), your entry into Canada may be prohibited. Your trip will only be authorized if it is for an emergency or essential reason – which will be assessed and determined by the immigration officer.
Although border restrictions remain in effect until at least October 21, the Government of Canada has eased the entry of some travelers, such as family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents (including those who have been in an exclusive relationship for at least one year and their dependents), foreign exchange students and citizens of other nationalities who need to enter the country in specific circumstances, such as life-threatening illnesses, serious injuries or death (dismissal from relatives or funerals):
To check if your case is among the exceptions listed above, visit the IRCC website here.
Visitors arriving in Canada also must quarantine for 14 days, except those who receive a specific exemption.
In addition, every visitor will need to apply for and receive official authorization before traveling to the country.
For other visitors, the Canadian government continues to apply the travel restrictions that have been in place since March 2020.
Even if you hear of a case where the person did not fit the conditions of an exemption and still managed to enter Canada, this cannot be considered in any way as a guarantee that you will also be able to enter. That said, make sure that you fit into the situations considered as an exception to the restrictions and provide all the documents you can to present them to the immigration officer.
Furthermore, when travelling to Canada, make sure you have a plan to quarantine for 14 days when you arrive, mentioning:
This plan is mandatory, even if you have no symptoms. The penalties for not following your quarantine plan once you’re in the country can include
Finally, we emphasize again that the rules and exceptions are constantly changing according to the situation of COVID-19 in Canada and therefore we recommend that everyone check the official website of the Government of Canada for updated information and whether the rules still remain in place.