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Canada Releases New Specific Guidance On “Essential Travel” During Coronavirus

New specific guidance issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) says individuals covered by exemptions to travel restriction will not be allowed to travel ‘for the purposes of recreation, tourism and entertainment’.

The requirements also covers foreign citizens entering from the United States. Those travelling from the United States do not need to be covered by an exemption but are required to be travelled for non-discretionary and non-optional reasons.

The guidance also covers a specific section for travels for family reunification purposes.

New Specific Guidance On Essential Travel

Examples of the types of discretionary and optional travel not allowed include:

  • To visit families for a vacation.
  • For the birth of a grandchild, niece, nephew, cousin, etc.
  • To spend time at a secondary residence (vacation homes, hunting or fishing lodge, etc.). This includes entry for upkeeps or maintenance purposes.
  • To attend the funeral of a close family member (This purpose of travel would be unlikely due to quarantine measure and limits to the number of attendees at funerals under provincial restriction.)

Examples of non-discretionary and non-optional reasons offered by IRCC includes travel for:

  • Economic services and supply chain.
  • Critical infrastructure supports.
  • Health (immediate medical care), safety and security.
  • Supporting local communities.
  • Traveling through Canada for non-discretionary and non-optional purposes.
  • Studying in Canada if already approved by IRCC for a study permits on or before March 18.
  • Attending to family matters for non-discretionary and non-optional purposes (such as bringing supplies to elderly parent or caring to a sick family member) when there is no one else available in Canada to help.
  • Any other activities that are considered non-discretionary or non-optional by the Canadian government or based on an officer’s assessment.

Family Reunification

The new guidance warns that family ties does not automatically qualify as non-discretionary and non-optional travel. “Family members will need to demonstrate that they are not travelling for a discretionary or optional purposes such as a routine family visit,” the guidance says.

IRCC examples of non-optional and non-discretionary travel for family reunification include:

  • To take up full-time residence in Canada (this concerns prospective permanent residents as well as temporary resident seeking to enter Canada to live with immediate or close family members).
  • Tending for a sick family member or an immediate family member who is unable to care for himself or herself when no other arrangements can be made.
  • For foreign national immediate family member(s) to spend the coronavirus pandemic period with their Canadian citizen family member so they can help to ensure each other’s wellbeing health and safety.
  • Shared custody agreements across borders, as this will be complying with a court order.

14-Day Self-Quarantine Plan

Canada also issued a reminder that, regardless of the reason for exemption or travel, any traveller with coronavirus symptoms will not be allowed entry into Canada.

Additionally, anyone moving to Canada from the United States or any other country will be required to self-quarantine for a period of fourteen (14) days upon entry.

Travellers also needed to present a quarantine plan, with details of where they will reside, how they will get medication and groceries and whether they will be living with vulnerable people.

“This information is applicable to an officer’s decision as to whether travel is for a non-discretionary and non-optional purpose,” the guidance states.

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