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Executive Summaries Mar 17, 2020

COVID-19: Impact on Travellers to Canada

The Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outlined additional actions being taken under the Government of Canada’s whole-of-government response to COVID-19.

The Prime Minister announced that the Government of Canada will take the following measures for air travel specifically:

1. Bar foreign nationals from all countries except the United States from entering Canada. Foreign students and temporary foreign workers who are outside Canada and the United States will not be allowed to board a plane to return to Canada.

2. The measure would not apply in designated exceptional circumstances, including to:

  • Air crews,
  • Canadian permanent residents,
  • Canadian citizen, and,
  • Immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

3. Foreign nationals who have resided in the United States and/or Canada continuously for the last 14 days immediately prior to travel to Canada may be permitted to travel by plane to Canada. Disclaimer: There is no official position on how this is being applied at airports or land borders.

4. Airlines will prevent all travellers who present COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of their citizenship, from boarding international flights to Canada. Airlines will conduct a basic health assessment of all air travellers based on guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The Canadian government has also announced the closure of the Canada-US border to non-essential travel between the two countries. The following measures have been announced:

1. US Citizens, green card holders or foreign nationals that have a Canadian visa issued in their passport or are in possession of a valid Canadian temporary work permit, can be denied entry into Canada from a land border if they are considered to be “Non-essential travel”

2. US citizens can also be barred from entry into Canada from a land border if they have been in a recent hot spot in the past 14 days or if they show symptoms upon arrival. For Canadian Citizens and/or permanent residents and/or First Nations, including family members, this measure would not apply but they would be required to self-isolate if allowed entry into the country.

3. Travel to land borders for the purpose of obtaining immigration services is non-essential. There is no definition of clarification provided at this time as the what is considered “essential” apart from what has been published below: 

“Essential to the movement of goods and people. This includes travel associated with the movement of healthy workers in the trades and transportation sector such as flight crews, truck drivers, railroaders, mariners, or the movement of other healthy workers across our border to go to work, including health care providers and critical infrastructure workers.”

With regards to immigration procedures, applications for temporary and permanent residence can continue to be submitted online, and processing will continue. Delays are, however, to be expected as in-person procedures are being postponed, including biometrics submission, citizenship ceremonies and permanent resident landings, etc. Additional time will be provided by the immigration services to accomplish these steps.

We invite you to contact our Business Immigration team for any questions regarding the arrival in Canada of your workers.

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