How to enter Canada from the U.S. during coronavirus

Alexandra Miekus
Published: June 14, 2020

Travel between Canada and the United States has been restricted since March 21, to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The agreements have since been renewed on a monthly basis.

Individuals who are exempt from Canada’s coronavirus travel restrictions include temporary foreign workers, immediate family members of Canadians, and certain international students.

Those who are travelling to Canada and are exempt still have to demonstrate that the purpose of their trip is for an essential reason and related to critical infrastructure support, trade, work, study or family reunification. Essential travel is defined as travel which is non-optional and non-discretionary.

With few exceptions, those who enter Canada from abroad must undergo 14 days of self-isolation. Furthermore, they must demonstrate that they have an adequate quarantine plan.

Those who wish to travel to Canada for other non-essential reasons, such as cross-border shopping, to go to their cottage or to visit friends, unfortunately, cannot do so at this time.

Find out if you are eligible for any Canadian immigration programs

Immediate family members may enter Canada

Last Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that immediate family members will be able to enter Canada as of June 8, 2020 so long as they meet certain conditions such as coming to Canada for at least 15 days. Since this exemption was announced, the federal government has issued more guidelines to help immediate family enter Canada.

Working in Canada

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Canada has put in place several policies to allow workers and students to come to Canada despite border closures.

Most notably, Canada has implemented measures that help employers address labour shortages and facilitate the hiring process of foreign workers. As a result, those who wish to work in Canada may use an accelerated work permit authorization process. Priority processing has also been put in place for some essential occupations.

Canadian employers looking to hire foreign workers in the fields of Information Technology and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) can also do so through the Global Talent Stream. This popular stream allows work permits to be processed in as little as two weeks for those individuals who have eligible job offers in Canada’s tech industry.

Get help with Canadian work permits and TRVs

Study options

Canada also made a major change to its Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) rules for international students who want to study in Canada starting in the fall. The PGWP enables international students to gain Canadian work experience after completing their educational program at a Canadian designated learning institution (DLI).

Normally, online courses do not count toward the study requirement for a PGWP application. However, given coronavirus-related travel interruptions around the world, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has relaxed the rules and is now allowing international students to study online while overseas and still be eligible to apply for the work permit after graduation.

IRCC is also exempting overseas biometrics requirements for some foreign workers and has indicated it will aim to process as many study permits as possible in time for the start of the fall 2020 academic semester.

Study in Canada in fall 2020

Canada has over 80 economic class immigration pathways

With the H1-B visa program in the United States in jeopardy and the tens of thousands of foreign workers who have placed their hopes in this program worried about their future, the prospect of moving from the United States to Canada may become an increasingly appealing option.

Unlike the U.S where immigration has been temporarily banned, the Canadian government remains committed to welcoming immigrants and the immigration minister Marco Mendicino has made several remarks that immigration will continue to be key to Canada’s economic success and post-coronavirus recovery.

Both the federal government and provinces have the authority to operate immigration programs. Collectively, they run over 80 pathways available to skilled workers under Canada's economic class.

The most common way to seek permanent residence in Canada is through the Express Entry system. Throughout the pandemic, Canada has continued to hold bi-monthly rounds of invitations through the Express Entry system, with most recent draw having taken place on June 11.

The second most common way to obtain permanent residence is through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).

Most Canadian provinces and territories have their own PNP with each one specifically designed to target immigrants who match specific labour market and economic needs in their respective regions.

PNPs have been active over the past few weeks, with invitation rounds taking place in most Canadian provinces. In fact, more than 2,000 invitations to apply for a provincial nomination for permanent residence have been issued in May and already over 1,000 in June.

Why applicants from the U.S. have a competitive advantage

Immigration applicants from the U.S. are well-placed to gain Canadian permanent residence due to their English-language fluency, professional work experience, and high levels of education. It is for these reasons that U.S. residents are among the top 3 sources of successful candidates under Express Entry.

Find out if you are eligible for any Canadian immigration programs

© 2020 CIC News All Rights Reserved

Share this article
Share your voice
Did you find this article helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Did you find this article helpful?
Please provide a response
Thank you for your helpful feedback
Please contact us if you would like to share additional feedback, have a question, or would like Canadian immigration assistance.
  • Do you need Canadian immigration assistance? Contact the Contact Cohen Immigration Law firm by completing our form
  • Send us your feedback or your non-legal assistance questions by emailing us at
Related articles
Studying in Canada: An updated guide to applying for Canada’s Student Direct Stream in 2024
The process of applying for a Canadian study permit has undergone changes recently, affecting many candidates that will apply for expedited processing through the Student Direct Stream (SDS) in 2024.
IRCC releases allocation of study permits for all provinces
IRCC has released a statement explaining how it has arrived at the final allocation of study permits each Canadian province has received for 2024.
HDFC Bank and TD Bank Group sign agreement to streamline education journey for Indian students in Canada
Two people in discussion
What should be included in your Letter of Acceptance as an international student
Smiling smart businesswoman studying, learning language, listening webinar sitting outdoors
Top Stories
Budget 2024: How will it impact Canadian immigration?
10 frequently asked questions by visitors to Canada
Comparing rental costs across Canada
Join our free newsletter. Get Canada's top immigration stories delivered to your inbox.
More in Canada
Budget 2024: How will it impact Canadian immigration?
Canada has released Budget 2024.
Comparing rental costs across Canada
A for rent sign infront of a small house
What can newcomers expect from Budget 2024?
Budget 2024 will contain several new initiatives to help with housing affordability in Canada.
I am a Canadian permanent resident, how long do I actually need to stay in Canada?
Calgary skyline
Link copied to clipboard