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  • Canada announces New Travel updates and opening of borders for international students & extended family members

On 2 October 2020, Immigration minister Marco Mendicino announced that, in addition to the border restrictions that remain in place, the government was further strengthening the public health presence at the border & enhancing quarantine monitoring. The government is also increasing the use of digital forms & processes to allow critical information to be shared more quickly with provinces & territories.


In addition, a process is being introduced to support enhanced family reunification, including those in long-term relationships, international students & entry for compassionate reasons.


Some of the new measures that are now being introduced are –

  • The presence of federal public health officers at the border is being scaled up over the coming months to cover 36 ports of entry that account for 90% of all traffic into Canada during normal operations.
  • To improve information sharing, the Public Health Agency of Canada has deployed digital portals for travelers to mandatorily share their critical information, including through the ArriveCAN app, so data can be transmitted to provinces & territories quickly & securely.
  • The government is also strengthening compliance & enforcement efforts. All travelers entering Canada are contacted regularly. Those that cannot be reached or are suspected of not complying with quarantine requirements are issued fines by law enforcement authorities. The fines can start from CAD 1000 and repeated instances of non-compliance can result in multiple fines. Willfully or recklessly contravening the Quarantine Act could also result in fines of up to CAD 1 million and 3 years imprisonment.
  • Those arriving in Canada by air must pass a pre-boarding health check conducted by their airline. Upon arrival in Canada, a traveller’s health & ability to quarantine will be assessed before they leave the port of entry. This is of course after their mandatory 14 day quarantine period.
  • Canada will re-open its borders to all international students from 20 October 2020, irrespective of where they are travelling from & when their study permit was approved.
  • International students may enter Canada if they are attending a designated learning institution (DLI) that has been identified by their provincial or territorial government as having a COVID-19 readiness plan in place. The list of DLIs with an approved COVID-19 readiness plan in place will be posted & regularly updated on the IRCC website.
  • Immediate family members may also be allowed to accompany the international student provided their reason for travel is non-optional or non-discretionary.
  • International students should not make any travel plans until they have met all requirements & obtained all necessary authorizations to qualify to come to Canada under the new rules.
  • Canada will be introducing a process to allow entry into Canada for extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, and will also create a process to allow foreign nationals to come to Canada for compassionate reasons in limited circumstances.
  • Extended family members who will now be allowed entry into Canada include siblings, grandchildren, grandparents, non-dependent children and individuals in an exclusive dating relationship with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident for at least 1 year.
  • Such extended family members must receive written authorization from IRCC to travel to Canada, and must not make any travel plans until they have met all requirements & obtained all necessary authorizations to qualify to travel to Canada under the new rules.
  • Canada is also working towards introducing a new process to allow foreign nationals to be eligible to enter Canada for compassionate reasons such as being present during the final moments of life of a loved one, providing support to a person deemed critically ill, providing care to a person who medically requires support and attending a funeral.
  • Canada has also announced details for opening of the 2020 Parents & Grandparents Program. Under this program, Canadian citizens and permanent residents will have an opportunity to submit their interest online. A maximum of 10,000 applications will be accepted for the 2020 intake under this program, whereas 30,000 applications will be accepted for the 2021 intake.

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