Students and families allowed to travel to Canada

Kareem El-Assal, Shelby Thevenot
Published: October 2, 2020

Canada is easing travel restrictions on family members, study permit holders, and people entering on compassionate grounds.

This was just announced in a press conference in Ottawa by Canada's ministers responsible for immigration, health, and public safety.

Canada's immigration minister Marco Mendicino stated that extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be able to enter Canada beginning on October 8th.

Effective October 20th, international students enrolled at a Canadian designated learning institution will be able to enter Canada so long as their DLI has a COVID-19 readiness plan that has been vetted by the province or territory that the DLI is located in. DLIs are universities, colleges, and other education institutions approved by the government to welcome international students.

Foreign nationals will be able to apply to enter for compassionate reasons. Such examples include travelling to Canada to attend a funeral, among various other reasons one will be able to apply for a travel exemption on compassionate grounds.

As is the case for all incoming travellers, those exempt must self-quarantine for 14 days upon entering Canada.

Eligible extended family include those who are in exclusive long-term relationships, dependent children, adult children, siblings, and grandparents.

A press release from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) stated that detailed information will be provided on its website on October 8th. It said that there will be a robust process in place for extended family members and they must apply for authorization and obtain it before they can enter Canada.

Before today's announcement, Canada exempted the following immediate family members:

  • spouses or common-law partners;
  • dependent children;
  • dependent children of dependent children;
  • parents and step-parents, including in-laws; and
  • guardians or tutors.

Last week, Canada announced that spousal sponsorship applications will be expedited, ramping up processing to 6,000 applications per month.

When travel restrictions initially went into place, students could only come to Canada if they had their study permits approved before March 18. Canada also exempts students from restrictions if they are coming from the U.S. However until October 20th, students are only allowed to travel to Canada if their program requires in-class participation, such as labs or workshops.

Canada first closed its borders between March 18 and June 30. Travel restrictions have since been extended each month. Currently, travellers from the U.S. are barred from non-essential travel until October 21, and travel restrictions on other countries extend until October 31.

Some individuals continue to be exempt from the coronavirus travel restrictions so long as they are coming to Canada for essential reasons such as working in Canada or to reunite with a close family member such as their partner.

Following initial success in reducing its COVID-19 cases, Canada has seen a substantial increase in its daily cases over the past month. Quebec, which is Canada's second-largest province by population, reported over 1,000 new COVID-19 infections today, which is its largest total since May. Canada's largest province, Ontario, is also experiencing surging numbers with over 700 new infections reported today, its highest since April.

Find out if you are eligible for Canadian immigration

Canada's immigration system continues to operate

Canada continues to hold Express Entry,  Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), and Quebec draws so that immigrants can arrive to Canada after the pandemic to support the economy.

Canada's last three Express Entry draws, which took place during bi-weekly intervals in September, were tied for the second largest in history. A total of 12,600 immigration invitations were issued to successful candidates. B.C. and Quebec also held their biggest draws of 2020 earlier this week.

In a speech last week, Canada's federal government announced it plans to continue to welcome more immigrants to fuel economic growth.

Two additional major events this month will offer clarity on how the federal government aims to proceed with its immigration policies after the pandemic.

Minister Mendicino is likely to announce Canada's Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan 2021-2023 by Friday, October 30th. Mendicino will also receive a new mandate letter from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau which will contain guidance on what immigration policy issues to prioritize over the coming years.

Find out if you are eligible for Canadian immigration

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