The federal government has begun clarifying many of the questions raised by the travel restrictions put in place last week. However there remains a lot of uncertainty and confusion as airline and border services personnel are interpreting the various announcements differently. We strongly recommend that anyone (including Canadian citizens and permanent residents) seeking to enter or exit Canada speak with an immigration lawyer before doing so. Our lawyers can be reached by phone (416 368 1111) or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Here is a summary of the developments that occurred over the weekend:
- Canada has announced that the following classes of individuals will be allowed to enter Canada by land or air, subject to a 14-day self-imposed quarantine period. However, these individuals should not travel to Canada until the effective date has been announced which should occur early this week.
- All temporary foreign workers, regardless of field of work or category of work permit.
- International students holding a valid study permit or those who had been approved for a study permit before March 18.
- Individuals who have been approved for permanent residence before the travel restrictions were announced on March 16.
- The definition of “immediate family member of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident” in the context of the travel restrictions has been clarified. It is broader than the definition in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which is limited to spouses, common-law partners, their dependent children and any dependent children of their dependent children. The following individuals are also considered immediate family members:
- Parents, step-parents, guardians and legal tutors of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
- Parents and step-parents of the spouse or common-law partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
- Individuals will be expected to provide evidence of their relationship. Before traveling, we strongly recommend that you reach out to your CILF lawyer for advice on the documents and information with which you should travel.
- Flagpoling to obtain a new work permit or land as a permanent resident remains prohibited. Please contact our office if you need to vary or extend a work permit. It also remains unclear whether ports of entry are accepting applications for new work permits from visa-exempt foreign nationals. We expect additional guidance on these points later this week.
- Certain provinces, such as Nova Scotia, have begun limiting travel in and out of the province (both at land borders and at airports). We expect others to follow suit. Domestic travel will likely become further complicated in the coming weeks.
- Canada is arranging certain repatriation flights for Canadians stranded abroad. However no formal repatriation program has been announced and the government has conceded that it may not be able to bring everyone home.
- Certain provincial health insurance plans have announced variations to eligibility requirements in light of the pandemic. Ontario’s OHIP will waive the 90-day waiting period for returning and new residents of Ontario. BC’s MSP is allowing foreign workers who are on implied status to request coverage (it does not appear to be automatic).