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IRCC Clarifies Who Can Enter Canada Despite Border Closures

Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has clarified who can enter Canada in the context of the coronavirus outbreak and what types of documents will have to be presented to airlines, which have the power to accept or deny boarding.

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

Foreign students who hold a valid study permit or who hitherto were enrolled or accepted at a Designated Educational Institution (DEI) in Canada before to the implementation of the travel bans will be allowed to return to Canada. IRCC is asking these foreign citizens to self-identify themselves to airlines prior to boarding and to present a valid study permit or introduction letter from the government dated March 18, 2020, or before as proof.

Also exempt are temporary foreign workers who were already in Canada or who had made plans to come to Canada to work before the travel restrictions were introduced. New temporary workers coming to Canada to work in key areas such as food processing, agriculture, health, transportation and emergency services are also included in this exemption. Foreign nationals are also advised to present themselves prior to boarding and to present a valid work permit or introduction letter from the IRCC.

These recommendations also apply to holders of permanent resident visa holders who had already made arrangements to come to Canada before the travel bans or restrictions were put in place. They must identify themselves to the airlines boarding officials at check-in and present a permanent resident visa or a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) certificate as proof of status.

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

Broadening exemptions for immediate family members 

Immediate family members of Canadians were hitherto exempted. Now foreign citizens are allowed to travel to country if their immediate family member is staying in Canada as a worker, student, visitor or protected person.

The definition of immediate family member for the purpose of the travel restrictions includes the following:

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

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

Dependent children must be age twenty-one (21) or under unless they are financially dependent on the Canadian citizen or resident due to a disability.

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

The present physical location of the Canadian resident is not a factor. They may be inside or outside Canada or travelling with the foreign national.

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

Documentation is accepted in either electronic or paper format.

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

  • Canadian passports
  • proof of Canadian citizenships such as a citizenship certificates, citizenship card or provincial or territorial birth
  • certificate
  • Canadian permanent residents card
  • Canadian permanent resident travel documents (visa counterfoil)
  • visa-exempt foreign passports and IRCC Special Authorizations for Canadian Citizens

Documentation showing their relationships to their Canadian family members, such as a:

Other documents supporting an immediate family relationships (for instance, correspondence from IRCC showing spousal sponsorship in progress or documentation showing a common residential address)

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