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What is a “tutor” and why are they exempt from travel restrictions?

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Canada has listed “tutors” as immediate family members, causing confusion for people who are only familiar with the word being used in academia.

In Canada, many people think of “tutors” as people who help students study a particular subject.

However, the Government of Canada groups them in with “guardians” under the list of family members who are exempt from travel restrictions. They define guardians and tutors as: “individuals who are responsible for caring for a foreign national minor who is living apart from a parent for an extended period of time, for example, to attend a secondary school in Canada.”

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Minors are people who are under the age of 18 in Canada.

Different jurisdictions have varied definitions of tutors and guardians, though they both serve similar functions. A guardian or tutor does not take over all parental responsibilities, as in the case of adoptive parents, but has the authority to make decisions on behalf of a minor when a parent is not available.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) told CIC News that a number of foreign national children who study in Canada live with a guardian or tutor during their studies instead of with their parents.

Guardians and tutors were included in the exemptions because IRCC wanted to avoid situations where they were separated from their foreign national wards.

“The Government of Canada first implemented travel restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the March break, when some of these foreign national minors were travelling abroad,” IRCC said in an email. “Guardians and tutors were included in the definition of an immediate family member to ensure these foreign national minors were not stranded because the people housing them in Canada did not meet the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations’ definition of an immediate family member.”

In order to come to Canada, the guardian or tutor must be able to prove that they normally live at the same address as the minor. Live-in nannies are not considered to be guardians or tutors.

Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) provides the following list of some of the acceptable documents that prove the employment or status as a guardian or tutor:

  • documents that indicate the relationship to the child;
  • documents that indicate legal responsibility for the child and authority to make decisions in the absence of their parents;
  • documents showing power of attorney; or
  • a judicial court order or affidavit.

The onus is on the guardians or tutors to satisfy the border services officer that they meet the requirements for entry into Canada. Travellers should also have documentation that will demonstrate their reason for travel and length of stay. In addition, they should bring any other information that may prove how they meet the exemption. The final decision is made by a CBSA officer on a case-by-case basis, based on the information available to them at the time of processing.

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