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Travel to Canada and COVID-19 Updates

Wondering just how COVID-19 is affecting your travel plans to Canada? Whether you’re an international student, a new COPR-holder, or simply want to visit family and friends, we’re bringing you the latest COVID-19 travel news, requirements, and new immigration policies to help you stay up-to-date while navigating your way to Canada.

Last updated: 2021/09/29

Updates: Canada’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions and Immigration News

Travel Restrictions

  • As of August 9, 2021, U.S. citizens and U.S. lawful permanent residents don’t need to be travelling for a non-discretionary purpose if they have proof that they are fully vaccinated. Those who aren’t fully vaccinated are required to be travelling for a non-discretionary purpose.
  • As of September 7, 2021, fully vaccinated foreign nationals will be eligible to enter Canada for discretionary (non-essential) reasons. However, they need to adhere to certain requirements.

Travel Exemptions

  • Certain foreign nationals with authorization to enter Canada such as international students with study permits can enter Canada. See the full list below.

Fully Vaccinated Travelers Are Exempt from Quarantine

  • As of July 5, Canada ended the mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated travellers entering Canada. Please note that special measures still apply and only those permitted may enter Canada.

Children Under Age of 12 Are Exempt from Quarantine

  • Children younger than 12 years old will not have to quarantine, however, will need to follow special measures like avoiding schools, camps, and daycares.

Ban on Flights from India has been Lifted

  • Canada has lifted the ban on all commercial and private passenger flights arriving in Canada from India.

Ban on Flights from Morocco

  • Canada has banned all commercial and private passenger flights arriving in Canada from Morocco until at least September 29, 2021.

Ban on Flights from Pakistan Lifted

  • Canada has lifted the ban on all commercial and private passenger flights arriving in Canada from Pakistan.

COVID-19 Vaccinations in Canada

  • As of September 29, 2021, more than 63,906,444 doses of approved COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across Canada. 
  • As of September 29, 2021, about 85.82% of the Canadian population, aged 12 and older, has received at least one dose and 79.63% have been fully vaccinated.

Express Entry

  • If you receive an invitation to apply on or after June 29, 2021, you must submit your application for permanent residence within 60 days.

Who Can Enter Canada During COVID-19?

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Canada’s travel ban affects the majority of foreign nationals but there are a few exceptions. Canada allows entry to foreign nationals who have the authorization to enter Canada such as Canadian work permit holders and international students with study visas. Those with written authorization from the IRCC can also travel to Canada if their reason for travelling to Canada is non-optional.

You can enter Canada if you are:

  1. A Canadian citizen or a Canadian permanent resident
  2. An immediate family member of a Canadian citizen and Canadian permanent resident who is travelling to Canada for non-optional reasons.
  3. An extended family member and long-term partner of a Canadian citizen and permanent resident who applied for written authorization from IRCC.
  4. An immediate family member of a temporary resident (foreign worker, international student, etc) in Canada who applied for written authorization from IRCC.
  5. A temporary worker with a valid work permit or who is approved for a work permit but has not yet been issued the work permit.
  6. An IEC participant. If you have not yet activated your work permit then you must hold a valid job offer in order to enter Canada. The job offer can be in any sector. Read more.
  7. An international student with a valid study permit or a letter of introduction. You must be attending a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) that is on the approved list (schools that have a COVID-19 readiness plan). Read more.
  8. A Confirmation Of Permanent Residence (COPR) holder with a valid COPR who is residing in any country other than the United States and was approved for a COPR before 12 pm EDT on March 18, 2020, and who is travelling to Canada to settle permanently.
  9. A COPR-holder with a valid COPR who is residing in the United States and was approved on any date (even after March 18, 2020) and who is travelling to Canada to settle permanently.
  10. A foreign national travelling to Canada for compassionate reasons such as attending a funeral or providing care to an elderly person residing in Canada.

(Source: IRCC)

COVID 19: Canada Entry Requirements

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If you’re planning to travel to Canada right now then you should familiarize yourself with the new entry requirements. The new special measures put in place for travellers entering Canada are to ensure the health and safety of Canadians amidst a pandemic. Use the following list to plan your entry to Canada.

Plan your entry to Canada:

  • Pre-entry negative COVID-19 test: The test must be no older than 72 hours upon arrival.
  • On-arrival COVID-19 test: Take a COVID-19 PCR test upon arrival. There's an exception for travellers who arrive in Canada by water.
  • Mandatory 14-day quarantine: You must prepare an isolation plan in advance of arrival in Canada detailing where and how you will complete your 14-day quarantine.
  • Day 8 COVID-19 test: On day 8 of your quarantine, you will need to take another test and remain in quarantine while awaiting your results. There's an exception for travellers who arrive in Canada by water. 
  • Download the ArriveCAN app All travellers to Canada must submit information regarding their travel and contact information as well as quarantine plans.

Note: Vaccinated travellers must still adhere to the entry requirements.

FAQs: Travelling to Canada During COVID-19

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1. Can I visit my family members in Canada?

Yes, you may be able to travel to Canada to visit your immediate and extended family members for non-discretionary purposes. However, if you’re planning to visit extended family members you need to get written permission from IRCC.

Immediate family members include:

  • a spouse or common-law partner;
  • a dependent child or your spouse’s or common-law partner’s dependant child;
  • a dependent child of a dependent child;
  • a parent or step-parent or your spouse’s or common-law partner’s; or
  • the guardian or tutor of the person.

Extended family members include:

  • a spouse or common-law partner;
  • a non-dependent child (adult child);
  • a grandchild (dependent child of a non-dependent adult child);
  • a sibling, half-sibling or step-siblings; or
  • a grandparent.

2. When will Canada’s border open for international travel?

No one really knows the answer to this question. Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, suggested that at least 75% of the population should be vaccinated to consider lifting the travel ban. Currently, over 55% of the Canadian population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

3. Can I still apply for a Canadian visa?

Yes, you can. Canada is still accepting and processing visa applications. However, the IRCC is currently prioritizing applications from Canadians and permanent residents returning to the country as well as vulnerable groups and work permits for essential workers such as nurses and farmworkers. This means that no definite processing times can be determined but the IRCC stated that they are “trying to process (all applications) as quickly as possible.”

Note: It’s important to note that there are no longer any extensions for supporting documents and you must submit a complete application. If for some reason you have trouble obtaining a document due to the COVID-19 pandemic then you can include a letter explaining why you can’t obtain the document on time.

4. When will Express Entry draws get back to normal?

In 2021 so far, all Express Entry draws have been restricted to candidates from the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) or from a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). The Canadian government has been prioritizing in-Canada applicants and since most of these programs are dedicated to foreign nationals with Canadian work experience, it’s likely that they won’t be affected by the current travel ban. Canada also introduced six new immigration programs to welcome 90,000 essentials workers who are working in Canada.

There is no formal indication as to when the Express Entry system will return to all-program draws. It’s possible that once COVID-19 infection rates fall and a great deal of the population has been vaccinated that Canada will begin to lift travel restrictions and Express Entry will once again proceed as normal.

Starting Your Visa Application During COVID-19

starting your visa application during covid-19

Are you worried about applying for your Canadian visa right now? With a lot of uncertainty and ever-changing policies over the past year, it’s understandable that you may be wary of pursuing a new life-changing venture like working, studying, or immigrating to Canada. The good news is that Canada is still accepting and processing applications and has extended deadlines and adapted a few requirements to support foreign applicants while protecting the health and well-being of Canadians and permanent residents during a very critical time.

On an even brighter note, Canada is effectively flattening the curve with its nationwide immunization efforts and it’s very likely that by the time your application is approved the travel ban would be lifted. Application processing times for immigration programs typically run a few months with the quickest processing time being six months for the Express Entry system and the Atlantic Immigration Pilot.

To navigate the intricate process with certified visa professionals who understand the Canadian immigration system and know how to handle unexpected policy changes, apply with CanadianVisa.org for a detailed visa plan and a smooth journey to Canada. We take care of your application for better results.

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