IRCC provides update on who can come to Canada

Kareem El-Assal
Published: June 12, 2020

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) released an update on June 12, 2020 providing more guidance on who can travel to Canada while travel restrictions remain in place.

Canada has had travel restrictions since March 18 but has been providing frequent updates to keep foreign nationals informed about their authority to enter Canada.

Exemptions have been announced following the introduction of the travel restrictions, and most recently, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced even more flexibility for immediate family to enter Canada.

Examples of travel for non-optional reasons

In the information released today, IRCC reminds foreign nationals they can only enter Canada for non-optional or non-discretionary purposes and it is the responsibility of foreign nationals to demonstrate the reason for their trip.

Immediate family of Canadian citizens or permanent residents will be deemed to be travelling for non-discretionary or non-optional reasons if their trip to Canada is at least 15 days long and they are either travelling with, or will reunite with their family member.

Get help with Canadian work permits and TRVs

IRCC also stresses to its immigration officers that they should demonstrate flexibility when processing the applications of immediate family members, even if they are travelling to Canada for less than 15 days, so long as the trip is non-optional.

Immediate family members of temporary residents in Canada must still show evidence their travel to Canada is non-optional. Such immediate family members coming to Canada from any country other than the United States must obtain an authorization letter from IRCC.

Who are immediate family?

The immediate family of Canadians and permanent residents are limited to:

  • Spouses or common-law partners
  • Dependent children
  • Grandchildren
  • Parents or step-parents
  • Guardians or tutors

Immediate family can enter Canada if they meet the following criteria

  • Trip to Canada is at least 15 days long (however, note above that IRCC is offering flexibility for trips under 15 days)
  • Immediate family self-quarantine for 14 days when entering Canada
  • Immediate family do not have COVID-19 or symptoms of the coronavirus
  • The trip is non-optional and non-discretionary
  • They are coming to Canada to be with their immediate family (IRCC notes however there is no requirement for the Canadian or permanent resident to be in Canada first. IRCC wants to help facilitate family unity and understands immediate family may arrive to Canada at different times due to travel restrictions).

Recommended documents

IRCC recommends that immediate family provide the following documents:

  • Documentation showing that their immediate family is a Canadian or permanent resident (e.g., Canadian passport, proof of Canadian citizenship, Canadian permanent resident card, etc).
  • Documentation showing their relationship to the family member (e.g., marriage certificate or proof of common law status, birth certificate, confirmation of permanent residence for the family class, etc).

Paper and electronic copies of the above documents are acceptable by IRCC.

Similarly, those looking to enter Canada to be with immediate family who are temporary residents are recommended to show copies of their family member’s work permit, study permit, temporary resident permit or visitor’s record, as well as proof of their relationship to the family member, and written authorization from IRCC.

IRCC will provide a letter to such individuals to demonstrate to the airline the individual is allowed to come to Canada.

More information coming

IRCC notes they will soon publish more information containing examples of non-optional travel for international students and temporary foreign workers.

Get help with Canadian work permits and TRVs

Need assistance with a temporary visa application process? Contact

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