New Exemptions to the COVID-19 Travel Ban
By CENK KEMAL HAZNACI
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced new exemptions to the COVID-19 travel ban on foreign nationals that came into effect on March 18, 2020. Please note that the new exemptions are announced but have not taken effect yet. Do not travel just yet and follow the Government of Canada’s official page.
With the new exemptions, international students, temporary foreign workers and outland permanent resident applicants whose applications had been approved by IRCC may travel to Canada. However, some of the exempted groups have a cut-off date.
There is no cut-off date for temporary foreign workers and all work permit holders may come to Canada. But for international students, the story is a bit different: Only those who held a study permit or whose study permit application had been approved at the time of the travel ban took place are exempted. The travel ban took effect on March 18, 2020. So any study permit applicant who was approved for a study permit on and after March 19, 2020 are not covered under this exemption, and they may not travel to Canada.
For permanent resident applicants who got the approval but haven’t yet traveled to Canada, there is another date to worry about. IRCC mentions the announcement date of the travel ban as the cut-off date for PR application approvals. The travel ban was announced on March 16, 2020. So only permanent resident applicants who were approved before March 16, 2020 but haven’t yet landed in Canada are now exempt from the travel ban and may come to Canada.
Please note that there are other exemptions and if one qualifies for those, they may still travel to Canada. One of the most notable of those previously announced exemptions are immediate family members of Canadian citizens or Canadian permanent residents (PR). Immediate family member means:
- spouse or common-law partner
- a dependent child of the Canadian citizen/PR or of the Canadian citizen/PR’s spouse or common-law partner
- a dependent child of the dependent child
- the parent or step-parent of the Canadian citizen/PR or of the Canadian citizen/PR’s spouse or common-law partner
- the guardian or tutor of the Canadian citizen/PR
It is also worth noting that this exemption does not release the traveler from their duty of 14-day self-isolation. Any traveler to Canada are expected to self isolate for fourteen days and not come into contact with others, including their family members at their household.
Like the students and workers, these new exemptions come as a relief to the education industry and the industries that rely on temporary foreign workers, most notably the agriculture, fish/seafood and caregivers.