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Travel to Canada and COVID-19 Updates

Updated: October 24th, 2022

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!

New COVID-19 Update

By the end of September 2022, Canada will have eliminated the majority of COVID-19 border restrictions.
While the government is yet to release an official release on the matter, one is expected shortly.
Various Canadian media outlets have announced that Canada will be ending its vaccine-related border restrictions. This means that unvaccinated travellers will be able to enter the country. This is due to come into effect by the end of September 2022.
Additionally, the ArriveCAN app is no longer needed in order to enter the country. However, it will continue to be used to submit vital travel information.
Up to date, randomized on-arrival COVID-19 testing was conducted. By September 30th this is due to phase out as well.
The availability of Covid-19 vaccinations and treatment alternatives, according to federal health minister Jean-Yves Duclos, has helped Canada be in "a far better position" than it was early in the epidemic. Another contributing cause is the nation's high immunization rate, with almost more than 82% of the population having gotten two doses, as well as a declining mortality rate.

Current COVID-19 Travel Restriction:

Pre-entry tests are not required for fully vaccinated visitors arriving in Canada by land, air, or sea. You must continue to use ArriveCAN within 72 hours of your arrival in Canada. If accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children under the age of 12 are not required to provide a valid pre-entry test result. Children under the age of five are exempt from testing, regardless of vaccination status.

COVID-19 Vaccinations in Canada

  • As of October 21, 2022, more than 90,955,028 doses of approved COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across Canada since December 14, 2020. 
  • As of October 17, 2022, about 86.9% of the Canadian population, aged 5 and older, has received at least one dose, and 84.2% aged 5 and older have been fully vaccinated.

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:

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

COVID-19 Regulation History 2021-2022

COVID-19 Regulation History 2022
June 20Persons will no longer be required to be fully vaccinated to board public transport in Canada, including planes, trains or any means of federally regulated transportation.
April 25Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children aged 5-11 who are accompanied by a fully vaccinated parent, step-parent, guardian or tutor will no longer be required to complete a pre-entry COVID-19 test for entry to Canada.
April 25Pre-entry tests will still be required for partially vaccinated or unvaccinated travellers 12 and older who are currently eligible to travel to Canada. Children under 5 years of age are not required to provide a COVID-19 test result.
April 25All fully vaccinated travellers will no longer be required to provide a quarantine plan upon entry.
April 25Fully vaccinated travellers arriving to Canada on or after April 25, 2022, will no longer be federally required to do the following for 14 days after arriving:
mask while in public spaces;
monitor and report if they develop signs or symptoms;
quarantine if another traveller in the same travel group exhibits signs or symptoms or tests positive; and
maintain a list of close contacts and locations visited
April 01Fully vaccinated travellers won't need a pre-entry COVID-19 test result to enter Canada. Fully vaccinated travellers may still be required to have a mandatory random COVID-19 molecular test when arriving in Canada.
February 28Unvaccinated travellers will still need to get a test on arrival, on Day 8 and quarantine for 14 days
February 28Pre-Entry Requirements. You can now use: a COVID-19 rapid antigen test result (taken the day before scheduled flight or arrival at the land border or marine port of entry) or;
a molecular test result (must be taken no more than 72 hours before scheduled flight or arrival at the land border or marine port of entry
February 28Canada's Travel Health Notice will be adjusted from a Level 3 to a Level 2 - international passenger flights will be allowed to land at all remaining Canadian airports that are designated by the Canada Border Services Agency.
January 21Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated foreign nationals will only be allowed to enter Canada if they meet the criteria for limited exceptions.
Exempt unvaccinated travellers will continue to be subject to testing, quarantine, and other entry requirements.
Non-exempt unvaccinated or partially vaccinated foreign nationals will be prohibited entry into Canada.

COVID-19 Regulation History 2021
December 21All Canadians returning from short trips (less than 72 hours) must take a molecular pre-entry test. The test must be taken outside of Canada.
November 30Vaccination will be required to travel within and outside of Canada. (Pre-entry Molecular or PCR test no longer valid as an alternative to vaccination unless exempt). All travellers, Canadian citizens, and permanent residents will, however, be required to take a COVID test upon arrival at the airport they land at in Canada.
September 7Fully vaccinated foreign nationals will be eligible to enter Canada for discretionary (non-essential) reasons. However, they need to adhere to certain requirements.
August 9U.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.

Group-Specific COVID-19 Regulations

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.

Testing No Longer Required After Short Trips Outside of Canada

  • Fully vaccinated Canadian permanent residents and citizens who leave and re-enter Canada within 72hours are not required to have negative PCR test results as of November 30, 2021.

New Vaccination Requirement for Previously Exempt Groups of Travellers in 2022

  • As of January 15, 2022, the following groups of travellers will be required to be fully vaccinated to enter Canada:
    • Those travelling to reunite with family; 
    • International students (18 years and older); 
    • Those with a valid work permit, including temporary foreign workers (except those in agricultural and food processing sectors);
    • Essential service providers, including truck drivers; and
    • Professional and amateur athletes.

As of January 15, 2022, partially or unvaccinated travellers will only be able to enter Canada if covered by an exception (new permanent residents, agricultural and food processing workers, marine crew members, those entering on compassionate grounds, resettling refugees and some children under the age of 18).

Canada Updates List of Approved Vaccines

  • As of 30 November, Canada will update its list of approved vaccines to include:
    • Bharat Biotech; 
    • Sinopharm; 
    • Sinovac; 
    • Pfizer-BioNTech;
    • Moderna 
    • AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD; and
    • Janssen/Johnson & Johnson

Do I Need to Isolate?

There are currently three situations where you may have to isolate

  1. If you obtain a positive arrival or Day-8 COVID-19 molecular test result from a government-mandated test, you must notify the Public Health Agency of Canada.
  2. If you and/or your unvaccinated or partly vaccinated kid under the age of 12 develop symptoms within 14 days of arrival and you qualify as a fully vaccinated traveller, you should all isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms.
  3. Only Canadian citizens, permanent residents, Indian Act registration holders, protected people, refugee claimants, and resettled refugees are permitted to enter Canada with symptoms or a current positive test result. You might, however, face a punishment of up to $5,000, plus any surcharges.

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. Learn more about Express Entry.

Who Can Enter Canada During COVID-19?

Canada’s previous travel ban affected the majority of foreign nationals but there were a few exceptions. Canada allowed entry to foreign nationals who had the authorization to enter Canada such as Canadian work permit holders and international students with study visas. Those with written authorization from the IRCC could also travel to Canada if their reason for travelling to Canada was non-optional.

As of January 15, only travellers who are fully vaccinated who have received approved vaccines are allowed to enter Canada, unless they are listed as exemptions.

You can enter Canada if you are:

  1. A Canadian citizen (including dual citizens) 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)

FAQs: Travelling to Canada During COVID-19

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 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?

Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, originally suggested that at least 75% of the population should be vaccinated to consider lifting the travel ban. As of September 7, 2021, the borders were opened to all travellers who have been fully vaccinated with an approved 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?

Express Entry Returned to Normal as of July 2022

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 for a detailed visa plan and a smooth journey to Canada. We take care of your application for better results.

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