Immigration Update: Summary of Travel Restrictions due to Covid-19 (March 30, 2020 at 3:30 p.m. EDT)

During this unusual time, CILF – Caruso Guberman Appleby, is here to continue to support you with respect to all of your immigration needs. We are here to answer your questions and keep you informed. We will provide updates as soon as they are available. Our firm is well positioned to continue to focus on your immigration needs.

The federal government has attempted to clarify the uncertainty and confusion surrounding the travel restrictions that have been put in place due to Covid-19. There are essentially two different sets of restrictions – one for travel from any country other than the U.S., and one for travel from the U.S. They apply to all foreign nationals (meaning individuals who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents) regardless of citizenship and place of residence.

Travel from any country other than the U.S.

Foreign nationals may not travel to Canada from any country other than the U.S. until June 30, 2020 unless an exemption applies. Exemptions include:

  • individuals who have been in the U.S. or Canada for more than 14 days (as per the order governing travel from the U.S. to Canada – further details below under “Travel from the U.S.”)
  • immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents
  • persons with written authorization from a consular officer of the Government of Canada to enter Canada for the purpose of reuniting immediate family members
  • persons arriving in an aircraft operated by the Canadian Forces or the Department of National Defence
  • persons who, in the opinion of Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer either:
    • do not pose a risk of significant harm to the public health, or
    • will provide essential service while in Canada
  • passengers transiting through Canada to another country
    • transiting passengers will be subject to any travel bans and restrictions the third country has in place

Temporary foreign workers holding work permits or work permit approval letters, international students who hold valid study permits or those who were approved for a study permit before noon EDT on March 18, 2020, and those approved for permanent residence before noon EDT on March 18, 2020 who haven’t yet landed are able to enter Canada.

Travel from the U.S.

As of March 21, 2020, there is a 30-day restriction on all non-essential travel from the U.S. to Canada. This applies to the land border as well as flights. “Non-essential” travel has been defined as any travel that is optional or discretionary. This includes tourism and entertainment.

Healthy people who are required to cross the border for essential purposes may continue to do so. Some examples of essential travel purposes are:

    • work and study
    • health, immediate medical care, safety and security
    • shopping for essential goods such as medication or goods necessary for the health and safety of an individual or family

The onus is on the traveller to demonstrate that the travel is not non-essential and therefore excluded from the travel restriction. In the case of air travel, the government is leaving airlines to interpret their directives.

There remains some confusion around the ability of individuals residing in the U.S. to accompany or reunite with a Canadian family member in Canada. We will provide an update once this point has been clarified. Based on currently available information, we take the position that ports of entry may entertain applications for a work permit but will not be conducting landing interviews for individuals approved for permanent residence after March 18, 2020. Due to the ongoing confusion and potential for different outcomes, we encourage you to reach out to us to discuss case-specific issues.


We would also like to point out that effective March 26, 2020, the government has imposed a 14-day mandatory self-isolation period on every person entering Canada (including Canadian citizens and permanent residents), regardless of mode of travel. There is an exception for essential workers such as flight crews, truck drivers, health care providers and critical infrastructure workers. The Government has indicated that it will be doing spot checks ensure compliance. In accordance with the Quarantine Act, those who contravene the order face up to three years in prison and a fine of $1,000,000. Foreign nationals should be reminded that they could become inadmissible to Canada on the basis of criminality if convicted.

As the situation is rapidly changing, we expect ongoing 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:;;;;;;;

Please contact your lawyer at CILF – Caruso Guberman Appleby for additional details or specific questions.