Canada relaxes travel restrictions for extended family and international students - CanImmNewsletter.com - Canada Immigration Newsletter
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Canada relaxes travel restrictions for extended family and international students


Canada has relaxed travel restrictions for extended family of citizens and permanent residents, foreign nationals entering on compassionate grounds and international students. In the new rules announced October 2, 2020. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) stated that processes are being introduced to support greater family reunification, entry for compassionate reasons, and the safe and gradual entry of some international students. 

These processes will provide for the entry of

  • certain extended family members of Canadian citizens and Canadian permanent residents, including those in an exclusive dating relationship of at least 1 year and their dependent children, as well as adult children, grandchildren, siblings and grandparents
  • foreign nationals for compassionate reasons in specific circumstances, such as life-threatening illness, critical injury or death, with potential limited release from quarantine
  • international students, starting October 20, 2020, if they will be attending a designated learning institution that has been identified by their provincial or territorial government as having a COVID‑19 readiness plan in place

The coronavirus pandemic upended Canada family sponsorship and international students application, work and travel processing and support services, just like the pandemic has on other immigration programs including students visa, work permit and visiting visa processes. 

Quotes

“The travel restrictions we’ve put in place to protect the health and safety of Canadians remain in effect, and we must continue to be disciplined and vigilant in our response to the COVID‑19 pandemic. The updates announced today respond to the needs of Canadian families who have been separated from their loved ones by international borders, some of whom are facing the most difficult period of their lives. Canadians and anyone intending to travel to Canada must follow the quarantine requirements and public health guidelines to help control the spread of COVID‑19. There are strict but necessary penalties in place for those who break these rules.”

—The Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

“Canadians made sacrifices, often heartbreaking, to respond to this new virus. Thanks to the measures in place and the public health presence at ports of entry, we can now confirm a new process for entry applications. While we want to be compassionate, we also need to manage the risk of community spread, and we must all continue to be vigilant. Cases of COVID‑19 are increasing, and we must all follow public health measures.”

—The Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P., Minister of Health

“All decisions related to the border are made with the health, safety and security of Canadians as the most important priority. There have been significant impacts for some people as a result of the travel restrictions put in place due to COVID‑19, and it’s important that our rules demonstrate compassion. We continue to follow the best public health advice to restrict access to Canada while establishing safe procedures for those in exceptional circumstances.”

—The Honourable Bill Blair, P.C., M.P., Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Extended Family Members & Compassionate Reasons

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The following section directly from Canada’s official statement regarding its relaxed travel restrcitions for extended family members and for compassionate reasons.

Detailed information on who may qualify as an extended family member and the process and requirements to be eligible to travel to and enter Canada will be available on the IRCC website on October 8, 2020.

In response to COVID‑19, Canada has established a multi-layered system, including robust quarantine measures and travel restrictions. These measures have been effective in helping to protect the health and safety of Canadians.

However, the government recognizes that the travel restrictions have been difficult for those who have family and loved ones outside Canada, especially for families dealing with a life-threatening illness, critical injury or death of a loved one. We recognize the importance of being with close loved ones in times of extreme crisis.

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The Government of Canada will be introducing a process to allow entry for extended family members of Canadian citizens and Canadian permanent residents. In addition, we will be creating a process to allow foreign nationals to come to Canada for compassionate reasons in limited circumstances and with limited release from mandatory quarantine. Limited release from quarantine for compassionate reasons will also apply to returning Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

These changes will help families in Canada unite with loved ones while maintaining the integrity of the border measures put in place to protect the health of Canadians. Travellers should not make any travel plans until they have met all requirements and received all necessary authorizations.

New process for extended family members

Under the new process, the following extended family members of Canadian citizens and Canadian permanent residents would be eligible to travel to Canada:

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  • individuals in an exclusive dating relationship with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident for at least 1 year who have spent time in the physical presence of the Canadian citizen or permanent resident during the relationship and these individuals’ dependent children
  • non-dependent children (adult children who do not meet the definition of a dependent child in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations)
  • grandchildren
  • siblings (including half- and step-siblings)
  • grandparents

These people will be eligible to travel to Canada and will not need to demonstrate that they are entering for a purpose that is non‑optional or non‑discretionary, as long as they

  • are staying in the country for 15 days or more
  • provide Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) with the required documentation, including a completed and signed statutory declaration, to show they meet the definition of an extended family member of a Canadian citizen or Canadian permanent resident
  • meet existing eligibility and admissibility requirements to enter the country
  • are travelling to Canada with a valid passport and travel document (visa or electronic travel authorization [eTA], if needed)
  • have received written authorization from IRCC to travel to Canada as an extended family member

Like all travellers, extended family members will be subject to all public health measures, including the mandatory 14‑day quarantine period upon arrival in Canada. The final decision on who can enter Canada is made by a border services officer at a port of entry.

Detailed information, including the definition of extended family members and the process and requirements to be eligible to enter Canada, will be available on the IRCC website on October 8, 2020.

Extended family members should not make any travel plans until they have met all requirements and obtained all necessary authorizations to qualify to come to Canada under the new rules.

Process to allow for entry to Canada for compassionate reasons

The Government of Canada is working toward introducing a new process to allow foreign nationals to be eligible to enter Canada for compassionate reasons, including being present during the final moments of life for a loved one, providing support to a person deemed critically ill, providing care to a person who medically requires support, and attending a funeral or end-of-life ceremony. Information on how to request entry to Canada and limited release from mandatory quarantine for compassionate reasons will be available on the Public Health Agency of Canada website on October 8, 2020. Provinces and territories may have additional requirements and processes that must be respected.

Information for foreign nationals who receive authorization to travel to Canada for compassionate reasons from the Public Health Agency of Canada and who need a visa or eTA will be available on the IRCC website on October 8, 2020.

International Students

The following directly from Canada’s official statement regarding its relaxed travel restrictions for international students.

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Learning institutions whose COVID-19 readiness plans have been approved by their provincial or territorial government will soon be able to welcome more international students back to their schools.

Amended travel restrictions will take effect on October 20, allowing international students to enter Canada if their designated learning institution (DLI) has an approved COVID-19 readiness plan in place. With primary responsibility for education and health care, provincial and territorial governments assess COVID-19 readiness plans that schools are putting in place. As part of their plans, DLIs are expected to provide specifics to their provincial or territorial government on how they will provide information to international students on health and travel requirements before they arrive in Canada, help students with their quarantine plans and provide guidance or assistance in acquiring the necessities of life, such as food and medication, during their quarantine. Readiness plans also need to establish protocols for the health of students in the event there are suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases at the school.

The Government of Canada works closely with provinces and territories on the attraction and hosting of international students in Canada and other issues related to international education. Provincial and territorial partners indicated they would like to see a process that allows international students to begin travelling to Canada again, as long as it is done safely and respects health requirements.

Taking a cautious approach, the federal, provincial and territorial governments have worked together in developing that process. 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.

This change to travel restrictions affects all international students, regardless of where they are travelling from or when their study permit was approved. Travellers should not make any travel plans until they have met all requirements and received all necessary authorizations.

The travel of asymptomatic international students who have the appropriate documents to enter Canada and whose DLI is on the list of institutions with approved COVID-19 readiness plans in place will be considered to be non-discretionary and non-optional, unless there is evidence that they are clearly coming to Canada for a discretionary or optional purpose, such as tourism.

With the amended travel restrictions, immediate family members may be able to accompany an international student to Canada if their reason for travel is non-optional or non-discretionary, such as getting established in Canada in support of the principal applicant’s study program. This could include a spouse or common-law partner, a dependant, or in the case of a minor child who will be studying in Canada, a parent or legal guardian.

Like all travellers to Canada, international students and accompanying family members will be subject to all public health measures, including the mandatory 14-day quarantine period upon arrival in Canada.

Quick facts

  • While Canadian citizens and Canadian permanent residents can travel to Canada, foreign nationals are subject to the travel restrictions.
  • The new measure for extended family members complements the updated rules for immediate family members announced on June 8, 2020, and will help families in Canada reunite with more of their loved ones.
  • All travellers must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Canada, unless they are exempt. Travellers may also seek approval for limited release from mandatory quarantine for compassionate reasons in specific situations where respecting the 14‑day mandatory quarantine period is not feasible, such as visiting a loved one who is critically ill.
  • All travellers to Canada are now required to provide specific information after entry into Canada, including contact information. They may also provide updates on symptoms through self‑assessment during their quarantine period. The ArriveCAN app is the recommended option for providing this information.
  • Travellers flying to Canada must pass a health check conducted by airlines before they will be allowed to board their flight. Upon arrival in Canada, a traveller’s health and ability to quarantine will be assessed before they leave the port of entry.
  • Any foreign national showing signs or symptoms of COVID‑19 will not be allowed to enter Canada. A border services officer will determine if a foreign national can enter the country.

See also Canada speeds up spousal sponsorship application processing.


You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.