Travelling to Canada during COVID
Last updated April 8th, 2020
Travelling to Canada during COVID
Travel to Canada during COVID has seen a major decline beginning in March of last year and has slowly increased over the last few months. Travel restrictions along the United States-Canada and ports of entry will be closed through April 21, 2021. The restrictions, which were previously set to expire on March 21, 2021, prohibit all “non-essential” travel from entering the United States to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These restrictions have been in effect since March 21, 2020.
The Government of Canada announced that starting February 22, anyone arriving in Canada by land must show a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours before seeking entry to the country. Nonessential travelers that cross into Canada at a land border without a negative test could be fined up to $3,000 Canadian dollars.
COVID travel restrictions apply to all travellers within Canada and travellers coming into Canada. If you have a criminal record and are travelling to Canada during COVID, you may also need a waiver. Click here to find out if you need to apply for a waiver. Now would be the best time to start your application as it can take approximately 1 year for the Government of Canada to approve your application. Currently, they are not facing any delays in the processing of waiver applications.
The border was first closed during the latter part of March to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Travelling to Canada during COVID may be difficult to accomplish as rising numbers in Canada may come as a warning for the Government of Canada to restrict border travel even further.
Both US and Canadian governments are in agreement with extending the border restriction measures and that their main priority is to continue to work hard to keep Canadians safe and to keep our economies flowing. Until then, most people cannot travel to Canada, even if you have a valid visitor visa or electronic travel authorization (eTA).
The Canadian government recently loosened restrictions to allow immediate and extended family members of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, to enter Canada from the United States and from another country.
Travelling to Canada with a criminal record
COVID travel restrictions apply to all travellers within Canada and travellers coming into Canada. If you have a criminal record and are travelling to Canada during COVID, you may also need a waiver. Currently, the Government of Canada has resumed the processing of applications and are not facing delays. However, delays may occur when a person is compiling their application, as many courts, police, and other bodies (including fingerprinting agencies) across the US are still under emergency orders, reduced operations or operating to deal with urgent and essential matters. It is important to note that State and local governments may have varied measures in place regarding public health policies and economic responses, which will affect the administration of public services in those areas.
Once a waiver application has been granted, a person may fall into any of the COVID travel categories below, which will determine their eligibility to enter Canada.
Essential travel is exempt from travel restrictions
Some of the travel exemptions include the following:
- economic services and supply chains;
- essential services in the health, safety, security, or economic industries in Canada, also known as critical infrastructure support;
- immediate medical care;
- helping Indigenous communities;
- transiting through Canada for essential purposes;
- caring for sick family members who do not have support in Canada; or
- any other activities that are deemed “non-optional” or “non-discretionary” by the Canadian government.
Travel for an optional or discretionary purpose
Air travel and border measures have been implemented to protect the health and safety of Canadians by restricting optional and discretionary international travel.
Immediate family members of Canadian citizens, a person registered as an Indian under the Indian Act or a permanent resident of Canada will be deemed to be travelling for a non-discretionary or non–optional purpose if the travel is for 15 days or more and they are travelling with or to be with their Canadian citizen, person registered as an Indian or permanent resident family member. Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada.
Officers are asked to be flexible when processing these travellers for less than 15 days, if they are travelling for a non-discretionary or non-optional purpose.
Travellers must provide proof of their relationship as an immediate family member, and one that shows the immediate family member’s status as a Canadian citizen, person registered under Canada’s Indian Act or permanent resident.
Extended family members of a Canadian citizen, a person registered as an Indian under the Indian Act or a permanent resident of Canada will be deemed to be travelling for a non-discretionary or non-optional purpose if the travel is for 15 days or more and they are travelling with or to be with their Canadian citizen, person registered as an Indian or permanent resident family member. Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada.
A family member who is the Canadian citizen, person registered under Canada’s Indian Act or permanent resident must fill out the application for authorization and statutory declaration request a written authorization to travel when travelling to Canada during COVID.
Arriving in Canada
When you arrive in Canada by air, land or sea, border services will assess your health before you leave the point of entry. You may be denied entry if you have symptoms of Covid-19. People entering Canada must follow the regulations as per the emergency orders under the Quarantine Act.
All travellers arriving in Canada are subject to quarantine rules (with rare exceptions). You must have a plan to quarantine for 14 days when you arrive in Canada, including:
- a place to stay;
- a plan to get to your destination, get your groceries, and access essential services and medical care.
You may face hefty penalties for not following quarantine rules once you’re in the country.
- a fine of up to $750,000
- 6 months of jail time
- being found inadmissible, removed from Canada and banned from entering for 1 year.
If you are returning to Canada, it is important to regularly check federal and provincial public health authorities’ travel requirements.
There are many factors that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) uses in determining if you are permitted to enter Canada. It is important to recognize that border services officer at the port of entry will make the final decision in whether or not you may enter Canada, based on the information presented to them at the time of entry into Canada.
If you are planning to travel to Canada, with a criminal record, contact us today for a free consultation.
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