The impact of COVID-19 on travel bans and processing of immigration applications

April 16, 2020

By Canadian Immigrant Magazine |

During the past few weeks, the Government of Canada implemented many measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  In the immigration context, these measures included travel bans, the suspension of biometrics and the transition of most Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) officers to remote work.  The changes were frequent, dramatic and difficult to keep up with.  They have left a lot of prospective immigrants wondering what exactly is open with regards to Canada’s immigration programs.

Travel Bans

Canada is currently denying boarding to most foreign nationals on flights to Canada.   There are, however, numerous exemptions to this.

First, individuals who are travelling from the United States who have been in the United States for at least 14 days before they try to travel to Canada by land, sea or air, can travel to Canada if they are asymptomatic.  Such individuals must show that they are coming to Canada for essential reasons and not for reasons that are optional or discretionary, such as tourism, recreation or entertainment.

Second, all temporary foreign workers, as well as international students who have a valid study permit or who were approved for a study permit before March 18, 2020, and foreign nationals who were approved for permanent residence before March 18, 2020, but who have not yet travelled to Canada to land as a permanent resident, can travel to Canada if they are travelling to Canada for an essential purpose.

Third, the immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents can travel to Canada. Immediate family members includes spouses, common-law partners, children under the age of twenty-two and parents.  Immediate family members must show that they are coming to Canada for essential reasons and not for reasons that are optional or discretionary, such as tourism, recreation or entertainment.

Fourth, people who are authorized in writing by a consular officer of the Government of Canada to enter Canada for the purpose of reuniting immediate family members can enter Canada.

Canadian citizens and permanent residents continue to be allowed to travel to Canada.  A major exception to this, however, is that Canadian citizens and permanent residents who show symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to board flights to Canada.  They can, however, enter by land.

Anyone entering Canada must self-isolate for fourteen days.  Individuals arriving must present a self-isolation plan, and if their plan is not accepted they will be placed in a quarantine facility.

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