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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: 2022/1/4

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.
  • As of November 30, 2021 vaccination 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 (Pre-entry Molecular or PCR test no longer valid as an alternative to vaccination unless exempt).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.
  • As of December 21, 2021, all Canadians returning from short trips (less than 72 hours) must take a molecular pre-entry test. The test must be taken outside of Canada. 
  • As of January 15, 2022, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated foreign nationals will only be allowed to enter Canada if they meet the criteria for limited exceptions, which apply to certain groups such as agricultural and food processing workers, marine crew members, those entering on compassionate grounds, new permanent residents, resettling refugees and some children under the age of 18. 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.

Travel Exemptions

  • Certain foreign nationals with authorization such as international students and healthcare workers may be allowed to enter Canada. See the full list here.
  • Due to the ongoing circumstances in British Columbia due to floods, BC residents who need to travel, for 24 hours or less, by land to or through the United States are exempt from pre-entry, arrival and Day-8 testing and quarantine requirements. This does not apply to non-essential travel.

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

Ban on Flights from India Lifted

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

Ban on Flights from Morocco Lifted

  • 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.

Ban on Foreigners Arriving from South African Region Lifted

  • Canada has ended the recent temporary enhanced requirements for any foreigners who have been to any of the following African countries within 14 days before travelling to Canada, due to the Omicron strain, as of December 18, 2022:
    • Botswana;
    • Egypt;
    • Eswatini; 
    • Lesotho;
    • Malawi;
    • Mozambique;
    • Namibia;
    • Nigeria;
    • South Africa; and 
    • Zimbabwe.

Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and people with status under the Indian Act will be required to have a negative PCR test result (test must be done in a third country) before being allowed to enter Canada.

COVID-19 Vaccinations in Canada

  • As of December 23, 2021, more than 80,320,500 doses of approved COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across Canada since December 30, 2020. 
  • As of December 23, 2021, about 90.01% of the Canadian population, aged 12 and older, has received at least one dose and 87.25% 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?

man-with-mask-during-covid-19-canada

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)

COVID 19: Canada Entry Requirements

man-with-outstretched-hand-watch

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. 
  • 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

man-in-airplane-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 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?

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?

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 essential workers who are working in Canada.

There is no formal indication as to when the Express Entry system will return to all-program draws. The Government is, however, currently trying to finalise 14,000 backlogged CEC and almost 600 FSWP applications. It’s possible that once the backlog has been addressed, 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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