June Update: Canada and COVID-19
anadian borders still remain closed to most travelers who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada. Since March 16 of 2020, Canada’s borders have been closed to all but deemed-essential travelers in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Such “essential services”, are individuals who, by definition of their occupation, provide services that both countries have come to rely on, are exempted from the ban. These include diplomats and airline crew members. As well, the European Union has included Canada (but not the USA) in its ‘bubble’ of countries whose inbound and outbound flights can connect with the EU.
- Since April 18, 2020, the U.S. – Canada border has been, and remains, closed. However, recent progress in vaccination rates in Canada and the USA suggests the border may soon open;
- The government of Canada has suspended incoming flights from India and Pakistan for at least 30 days;
- Covid-19 infection rates in Canada are declining rapidly as Canadian COVID-19 vaccination rates are now the highest among the G-20 nations. All provinces and territories have seen the third wave of COVID-19 infections decline sharply through high uptake on vaccinations, strict controls, measures and rules to curb the spread of the virus and to keep people safe;
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is still accepting, and processing, temporary resident visa applications for visitors. However, travel to Canada for the purpose of a non-essential visit is still not allowed;
- Spouses and common-law partners and their dependents can be sponsored by their Canadian family members through the normal sponsorship program. Canada is encouraging these sponsorship applications, and have even deployed additional staff to assess submissions in the quickest possible times;
- Exceptions to travel restrictions are considered and granted for extended family members with the submission of an IMM006 form and supporting documents. This form requires signatures from both parties and a Notary Public, Solicitor/Lawyer or a Commissioner to witness. Turnaround time is within 14 days. Please contact us if you require assistance in getting this form completed and submitted.
Most Canadians now vaccinated
Canada’s summer 2020 efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus were encouraging, but the autumn and winter resurgence of COVID-19 was as severe in Canada as it was throughout the world. Canadians are now seeing vaccinations arrive in significant amounts, and the eagerness of Canadians to be vaccinated has brought down the infection rate and hospitalizations dramatically during the spring. The spread of the virus in seniors residences and long-term care facilities has eased, as seniors in Canada received the highest priority for vaccination. The more-communicable COVID-19 variants remain a concern, even as about five-sixths of Canadians have received at least one vaccination dose. One in six Canadians is now fully vaccinated. Communities have begun to relax restrictions on businesses that bring people together indoors.
- Atlantic Canada’s four provinces: Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick maintain a low incidence of both new COVID-19 cases and deaths. However, the COVID variants have caused cases to spike in all four provinces throughout the winter of 2021. The Atlantic provinces remain cautious about admitting outsiders – even other Canadians – and require stringent quarantines;
- The rate of new cases and deaths in Ontario and Quebec are going down since the peak of the mid-spring third wave. In Ontario, the majority of cases remain focused in the Toronto area, Ottawa, Peel Region and other areas north and west of Toronto;
- The four western Canadian provinces have grappled with high volumes of COVID-19 cases. Cases are coming down, though still high in Manitoba.
Check the Globe and Mail web site for up-to-date graphs and case numbers in Canada and the provinces and territories.
Public, sporting, business, conference and entertainment events all remain suspended. Canadians can shop if they wear masks and maintain social distance. Gatherings of many types, including church services, are only now (as of mid-June) reopening at reduced capacity with masks and social distance. Most such gatherings are again virtual. Nearly all retail establishments require shoppers, clients and patrons to use hand sanitizers and wear masks as they re-open, or remain open. Masks are now mandatory throughout Quebec outside the home environment.
What does this mean to me?
All travelers, including Canadians returning from abroad, must self-isolate for at least 14 days once back in Canada. The European Union had re-opened, with its defined safe ‘bubble’ including Canada. Europe has again restricted travel as the continent grapples with its own strong second wave of the corona virus.
If you are working with us on applying for any type of visa or sponsorship, Upper Canada Immigration will continue to work on your case without interruption. If you have been granted a TRV (visitor visa) you will not be able to come to Canada as a visitor until the ban has been lifted.
If you have been granted a permanent residence visa and have not booked your ticket to “land” in Canada, please delay your arrival in Canada to a time when you know things are closer to normal. There are only four international airports open for international flights: Pearson International in Toronto; Pierre Elliot Trudeau International in Montreal; Vancouver International and Calgary International. The line-ups and testing upon arrival are long and rigorous. As noted above, every international traveler, Canadian or not, must quarantine for at least two weeks.
Who cannot board Canada-bound flights
Canada’s Ministry of Transportation issued an Interim Order on who can and cannot board flights bound for Canada. The rules clarify how to deal with significant risk, direct or indirect to aviation safety or to the safety of the public:
- Persons who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents may not board an airline flight to come to Canada. This includes stateless persons;
- Every air carrier must conduct, at the boarding gate, a health check of every person prior to their boarding an aircraft for a flight to Canada;
- Results of Covid-19 tests (negative) taken within three days must be presented by all passengers;
- Air carriers may not allow persons to board if they exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 in their answers to questions, or in the air carrier’s observation. Passengers will be refused permission to board Canada-bound aircraft if they say they have COVID-19, do not have a negative Covid-19 test result to show, or if they refuse to answer pertinent questions.
After landing in Canada
- Passengers disembarking at any one of the four airports (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver or Edmonton) where international flights are allowed to land, must be prepared to submit to another COVID-19 test and quarantine for about three days during which time their test results will be available;
- Rules are changing for travelers who are fully vaccinated. Call us;
- Passengers must deposit $2,000 toward these quarantine costs. That sum has been estimated as the cost for one person to quarantine for the required time, which will be determined by the results of their Covid-19 test;
- Passengers will be quarantined in a designated hotel, and not in their homes or their relatives’ homes;
- Provinces have differing rules relating to inter-provincial travel. Please be sure to familiarize yourself with those rules that pertain to your particular set of circumstances. Atlantic Canada, for example, is especially strict.
When COVID-19 ends
In Canada, there now appears to be light at the end of the difficult COVID-19 tunnel. COVID-19 vaccination everywhere in Canada stepped up sharply in May and June. The supply of the vaccine is allowing the many Canadians eager to be vaccinated to finally get their first, and increasingly, their second vaccine doses.
Canada is on track to look for as many as one million new immigrants to the country in the next three years. We continue to work from home, and use WhatsApp, Zoom and other technology to meet virtually with clients. If you’re thinking about Canada, get the process started early. Now is the time! Some of our clients have already got their coveted Invitation to Apply during the COVID-19 period.
If you’re serious about coming to Canada, tell us about yourself by filling out this secure form. Let’s see if there is a viable pathway for you to continue life in Canada.