On July 16, 2020 Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the extension of the border closure between Canada and the United States until September 21, 2020 with the possibility of further extensions.
The border was initially closed for all non-essential travel on March 18, 2020 and since then Canadian citizens, permanent residents, temporary residents and foreign nationals have been left with several questions with respect to the entry restrictions and quarantine obligations.
It is important to highlight that the border is not closed – which means that the travel restrictions do not apply – to Canadian Citizens, permanent residents of Canada, persons registered under Canada’s Indian Act and protected persons. However, they are still obligated to comply with the Quarantine Act, which stipulates that every individual entering Canada should quarantine for 14 days immediately upon their arrival. This is mandatory with a few exceptions analyzed more in detail below.
With respect to foreign nationals who are not permanent residents, to be exempt from the travel restrictions you must be an immediate family member of a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident and you must stay in Canada for at least 15 days so you can properly quarantine. You will also have to demonstrate to the border agent that you have a quarantine plan for the first 14 days after your arrival in Canada.
If in the case described above, you are staying in Canada for less than 15 days you must prove that you are traveling for an essential purpose and be either traveling directly from the U.S or be listed as exempt from the travel restrictions.
If you are not an immediate family member of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and you need to travel to Canada, you must demonstrate that you are travelling for an essential purpose and be either traveling directly from the U.S or be listed as exempt from the travel restrictions (see below). This means that if you are arriving directly from the United States you must demonstrate that you are travelling for an essential purpose and that you have a plan to quarantine for 14 days.
Travelers coming from countries other than the U.S must demonstrate that they are listed as exempt from the travel restrictions and are travelling for an essential purpose. The foreign nationals who are exempt from the travel restrictions are: temporary foreign workers, some international students, any person who has been approved to become a permanent resident of Canada, but who is not yet a permanent resident, immediate family members with written authorization from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to reunite with a temporary resident of Canada (see Uniting with immediate family members for more information), transiting passengers (must remain in the secure transit area of a Canadian airport to complete their connection), members of the Canadian forces, visiting forces, Department of National Defense and their immediate family members, accredited diplomats and their immediate family members (includes North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO], those under the United Nations Headquarters Agreement, other organizations), air and marine crew members, French citizens who live in Saint-Pierre and Miquelon and have been in only Canada, the US or Saint-Pierre and Miquelon during the 14 days before the day they seek to enter Canada, any person who does not pose a significant harm to public health, in the opinion of the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, and who will provide an essential service while in Canada, any person whose presence in Canada is in the national interest, in the opinion of the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship; Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness; or Minister of Foreign Affairs, any person who is coming at the invitation of the Minister of Health for the purpose of COVID-19 assistance, any person whose purpose is to make medical deliveries.
In all cases, you must not be presenting any symptoms of COVID-19 and have a quarantine plan for 14 days, save and except for a few quarantine exceptions depending on very specific situations.
Persons who are exempt from the mandatory quarantine should be entering Canada for the purpose of an essential job. Naturally, the exemption will not apply if you have any symptoms of COVID-19.
Pursuant to section 58 of the Quarantine Act and the annexed Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Mandatory Isolation), No. 3,
the persons exempt from the mandatory quarantine are:
- (a) a crew member as defined in subsection 101.01(1) of the Canadian Aviation Regulations or a person who enters Canada only to become such a crew member;
- (b) a member of a crew as defined in subsection 3(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations or a person who enters Canada only to become such a crew member;
- (c) a person who enters Canada at the invitation of the Minister of Health for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response;
- (d) a member of the Canadian Forces or a visiting force as defined in section 2 of the Visiting Forces Act;
- (e) a person or any person in a class of persons whom the Chief Public Health Officer determines will provide an essential service;
- (f) a person or any person in a class of persons whose presence in Canada is determined by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration or the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to be in the national interest, as long as the person complies with any conditions imposed on them by the relevant Minister to minimize the risk of introduction or spread of COVID-19;
- (g) a person permitted to work in Canada as a provider of emergency services under paragraph 186(t) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations;
- (h) a person who enters Canada for the purpose of providing medical care, transporting essential medical equipment, supplies or means of treatment, or delivering, maintaining or repairing medically-necessary equipment or devices, as long as they do not directly care for persons 65 years of age or older within the 14-day period that begins on the day on which the person enters Canada;
- (i) a person who enters Canada for the purpose of receiving essential medical services or treatments, other than services or treatments related to COVID-19;
- (j) a person permitted to work in Canada as a student in a health field under paragraph 186(p) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, as long as they do not directly care for persons 65 years of age or older within the 14-day period that begins on the day on which the person enters Canada;
- (k) a licensed health care professional with proof of employment in Canada, as long as they do not directly care for persons 65 years of age or older within the 14-day period that begins on the day on which the licensed professional enters Canada;
- (l) a person, including a captain, deckhand, observer, inspector, scientist and any other person supporting commercial or research fishing-related activities, who enters Canada aboard a Canadian fishing vessel or a foreign fishing vessel as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, for the purpose of carrying out fishing or fishing-related activities, including offloading of fish, repairs, provisioning the vessel and exchange of crew;
- (m) a person who enters Canada within the boundaries of an integrated trans-border community that exists on both sides of the Canada-United States border and who is a habitual resident of that community, if entering Canada is necessary for carrying out an everyday function within that community; or
- (n) a person who enters Canada if the entry is necessary to return to their habitual place of residence in Canada after carrying out an everyday function that, due to geographical constraints, must involve entering the United States.
If you are not sure if you are exempt from the travel restrictions or the mandatory quarantine and would like to discuss a specific situation, do not hesitate to contact our best immigration lawyers in Montreal for a one-hour consultation.