October 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.
- On April 18, 2020, the U.S. – Canada border was closed. Recent progress in vaccination rates in Canada has prompted Canada to allow fully-vaccinated U.S. citizens, and returning Canadians, to cross into Canada. Fully-vaccinated Canadians still cannot freely cross into the USA via land, but they can fly;
- Travel between Canada and India has partly resumed as of late September. Canada-bound flights from India are allowed. Travel between Canada and Pakistan remains suspended;
- 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.
Canadian vaccination rate among highest
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 delta variant is a rising concern. More than 70 percent of Canadians are now fully vaccinated. Communities have slightly relaxed 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 delta variant has caused cases to spike in all four provinces throughout the summer 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 went down after the mid-spring third wave, although COVID-19 cases among the unvaccinated have raised worries about a fourth wave from the more-contagious Delta variant. In Ontario, the majority of cases remain focused in the Toronto area, Ottawa, Peel Region and other areas north and west of Toronto;
- The western Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Manitoba are getting the better of COVID-19. Saskatchewan and Alberta both re-opened their provinces too early, and prematurely dropped pandemic precautions in July, leading to a large spike in COVID-19 cases in those two provinces.
Check the Globe and Mail web site for up-to-date graphs and case numbers in Canada and the provinces and territories.
Most provinces have eased up on COVID-19 restrictions. Most public, sporting, business, conference and entertainment events are cautiously reopening, with strict rules to follow with respect to location of activity and numbers of attendees. Shopping malls are open in Ontario, with retailers requiring shoppers to wear masks and maintain social distance. Gatherings of many types, including church services, reopened at reduced capacity with masks and social distance. Nearly all retail establishments require shoppers, clients and patrons to use hand sanitizers and wear masks as they re-open, or remain open. Quebec was the first Canadian province to announce a vaccine passport, joined by Ontario and other provinces.
What does this mean to me?
Travelers, specifically permanent residents and Canadian citizens returning from abroad, providing they have been fully-vaccinated 14 days before entering Canada and test negative for COVID-19 no longer have to quarantine or self-isolate. Travelers also do not have to test again on the eight day in Canada. The European Union had re-opened, with its defined safe ‘bubble’ including Canada. Fully-vaccinated Canadians traveling to the UK must still quarantine. 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 on on-essential travel has been lifted.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has started to process Confirmations of Permanent Residence visas for those whose applications were completed and “stalled” because of the pandemic. If you have been issued your permanent residence visa, you can make arrangements to “land” in Canada anytime now. Arrival in Canada is streamlined. There are still only four international airports open for international flights: Pearson International in Toronto; Pierre Elliot Trudeau International in Montreal; Vancouver International and Calgary International.
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. On Monday July 4, 2021, the government iterated exemptions for certain category of travelers:
- If you were not eligible to enter Canada prior to July 5th, you still are not eligible to come to Canada.
- Persons who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents without special authorization by the Canada Border Services Agency may not board an airline flight to come to Canada (unless you are directly related to a Canadian citizen or permanent resident). This includes stateless persons;
- Foreign Nationals coming to Canada to work in essential services or to reunite with family members who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents may be allowed to enter Canada; Certain conditions apply;
- 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
- Rules have changed for certain travelers who are fully vaccinated. Call us;
- 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;
- Unless certain passengers have been fully vaccinated, have a quarantine plan, and test negative, they must quarrantine;
- Certain passengers (un vaccinated or partially vaccinated) may 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.