BlogEasing of travel restrictions to begin July 5, 2021

21 June 2021

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Starting July 5, 2021, fully vaccinated travellers will be exempt from the requirement to quarantine upon arrival to Canada. This exciting news, which was announced on June 21, 2021, represents the first phase of a gradual plan to lift border restrictions currently applicable to international travellers. As vaccination rates in Canada continue to rise over the summer, we can expect that further announcements will be made to facilitate international travel and to re-open immigration streams that have been suspended over the past year.

The Government of Canada’s announcement to lift quarantine requirements for vaccinated travellers is welcome news to both Canadian and non-Canadian travellers alike, especially for those who were reluctant to travel due to the mandatory requirement to quarantine at a government-approved hotel for the first three nights after arriving in Canada by air. However, non-essential travel to Canada remains prohibited at this time, which means that non-Canadian citizen and permanent resident travellers must continue to prove that they have an essential purpose of travel to be allowed entry pursuant to Canada’s Quarantine Act.

To be exempted from the quarantining requirement, travellers must prove that they have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days before travelling to Canada. They will still be required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result obtained within 72 hours of arrival and to take a further COVID-19 test on arrival. Finally, travellers must still present a quarantine plan in case border officials ultimately determine that they do not meet the eligibility requirements to be exempted from quarantining.

Along with the news of the quarantine exemption for eligible travellers starting July 5, 2021, the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) also announced that, effective immediately, foreign nationals who have a valid Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) document can now book their travel to Canada. Foreign nationals with expired COPRs should not travel until they have received new instructions to obtain a valid COPR.

Previously, foreign nationals who were approved for permanent residence and issued a COPR after March 18, 2020 were asked to remain in their home country until it became safe for them to permanently settle into their new lives as Canadian permanent residents.

As travel restrictions continue to ease over the next few months, we should expect similar news on the re-opening of many immigration streams that have been suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. These streams include travelling to Canada as business visitors and immigration through the Federal Skilled Worker Class, which has been suspended since December 2020. They also include the full re-opening of the International Experience Class, Canada’s youth exchange program, that has been operating at a limited capacity for countries such as Australia and Ireland and which remains closed to citizens of many other countries such as Poland, Austria, and Ukraine.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of immigration processing over the past 15 months, from the introduction of prohibitive travel restrictions to the suspension of many immigration streams and the creation of new ones to make up for the shortfall of new immigrants to Canada.

As an immigration lawyer, the mantra in my office during the COVID-19 pandemic has been to expect the unexpected and to prepare your immigration documents as early as possible. With the latest announcement on the easing of travel restrictions, we will likely begin to see a gradual return to IRCC’s standard business operations; however, it remains important for everyone who is intending to travel to Canada in the near future to prepare all the necessary documentation in anticipation of the borders reopening, including obtaining proof of full vaccination.

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Sas and Ing Immigration Law Centre LLP

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About the Author