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Coronavirus impacts Canadian immigration and border travel

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a major impact on travel to Canada, and processing of immigration applications in Canada.

On March 24, 2020, Canada issued an Order in Council stating that persons allowed to enter Canada, including Canadian citizens, even if healthy, will be required to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days. In some cases persons will be detained in government quarantine facilities for 14 days and will not be allowed to return home. Anyone considering travel to Canada must carefully consider these restrictions before attempting to enter Canada. Click here to read the Order in Council.

In addition:

  • On March 22, 2020 Canada issued an Order in Council prohibiting entry into Canada by any foreign national who arrives from a foreign country other than the United States. The prohibition does not apply to Canadian citizens, permanent residents, or immediate relatives of citizens or permanent residents. “Immediate relatives” includes spouses and common law partners; dependent children; parents and step parents; and guardians and tutors. Additional exceptions are listed in the Order.
  • On March 26, 2020 Canada posted clarifications to the travel restrictions stating that certain temporary workers, foreign students, and persons holding permanent resident visas or Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) documents could now travel to Canada. This contains detailed information as to exactly who can now travel to Canada both by air and at land crossings. Click here to read the bulletin.
  • Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has suspended all citizenship tests; citizenship ceremonies; in person refugee claim appointments; and in-Canada landing appointments until further notice.
  • IRCC appears to be continuing to accept online and paper applications through its various processing centers in Canada.

Canada has stated that persons showing symptoms of the COVID-19 disease, including Canadian citizens, will be denied boarding a plane. These symptoms have been defined as a having a fever and a cough; or having a fever and difficulty breathing.

This is a very fluid situation, and there is confusion on the ground among Canadian immigration officers tasked with carrying out these directives. Moreover, all airlines have drastically reduced available flights, so it may be difficult or impossible to travel to Canada even if you are in an exempt category. Do not attempt to travel to Canada based on information in this Post unless and until you have independently verified that such travel is legal and practical.

Allen & Hodgman’s offices in both the U.S. and Canada remain available to our clients and to others who need immigration assistance during these difficult times. Please contact us if you need our help.