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Exempt permit holders and permanent residents can now travel to Canada

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Exempt permit holders and permanent residents can now travel to Canada

travel ban exemptions

Canada has addressed some of the uncertainties lingering from the first travel ban order. The government has released more specific terms and conditions for foreigners who had made commitments to work, study or settle in Canada.

Canada’s immigration ministry has clarified who can enter the country in the context of the coronavirus pandemic and what types of documents will have to be provided to airlines, which have the authority to accept or deny boarding.

This information was eagerly awaited by many international students and foreign workers who were planning to come to Canada or who had left the country for a vacation and could not return.

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International students who hold a valid Canadian study permit or who were already enrolled or accepted at a Designated Educational Institution (DEI) in Canada prior to the implementation of the travel restrictions will be allowed to travel back to Canada. Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is asking these foreign nationals to self-identify to the airlines prior to boarding and to provide a valid study permit or letter of introduction from the government dated March 18, 2020, or before as proof.

Also exempt are temporary workers who were already in Canada or who had made arrangements to come to Canada to work before the travel restrictions were put in place. New workers coming to Canada to work in key sectors such as agriculture, food processing, health, transportation and emergency services are also included in this exemption. Foreign workers are also advised to identify themselves prior to boarding and to provide a valid work permit or letter of introduction from the IRCC.

These guidelines also apply to holders of permanent resident visas who had already made arrangements to settle in Canada before the travel restrictions were put in place. They must identify themselves to the airlines at check-in and provide a permanent resident visa or a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) document as proof of status.

IRCC has confirmed on its website that temporary foreign workers, international students and approved permanent residents who are currently abroad are now able to travel to Canada.

Broadening exemptions for immediate family

Immediate family members of Canadian citizens were exempt from the beginning. Now foreign nationals are allowed to enter the country if their immediate family member is residing in Canada as a worker, visitor, student or protected person.

The definition of an immediate family member for the purpose of the travel ban includes:

  • Spouses and common-law partners
  • Dependent children, and children of spouses and common-law partners
  • Dependent children of dependent children of either the Canadian resident or their spouse or common-law partner
  • Parents or step-parents
  • A parent’s or step-parent’s spouse or common-law partner
  • A guardian or tutor

Age is not a factor for parents and there is no requirement to establish dependency.

Dependent children must be age 21 or under unless they are financially dependent on the Canadian resident or their partner due to a disability.

Some adult children of Canadian residents may be exempt under family reunification. To travel to Canada under this exemption they will need an official letter confirming the purpose of their travel is to reunite with family. The letter must come from either IRCC, Canadian Border Services Agency, or Global Affairs Canada.

The physical location of the Canadian resident is not a factor. They may be in Canada, in another country, or travelling with the foreign national.

Family members of Canadian residents are expected to self-identify to airlines before boarding. They must present documents that demonstrate their family member’s status in Canada, and their relationship to that family member.

Documentation is accepted in either paper or electronic format.

To demonstrate their immediate family member is an eligible Canadian resident, foreign nationals may show one of the following documents:

  • Canadian passport
  • proof of Canadian citizenship such as a citizenship certificate, citizenship card or provincial or territorial birth certificate
  • Canadian permanent resident card
  • Canadian permanent resident travel document (visa counterfoil)
  • visa-exempt foreign passport and IRCC Special Authorization for Canadian Citizens

Documentation showing their relationship to their Canadian family member, such as a:

  • marriage or common-law status certificate
  • birth certificate
  • Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) for the family class (the COPR category under Application Details will be FC) or under the one-year window (coded OYW under Special Program)
  • other documents supporting an immediate family connection (for example, correspondence from IRCC showing spousal sponsorship in progress or documentation indicating a common residential address)

Learn more about Canadian family sponsorship

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