Canadians Now Able to Reunite With Family Members Living Abroad During COVID-19
As Canada slowly begins to loosen COVID-19 measures, the federal government is lifting the travel restriction that barred foreign national family members of Canadians from reuniting with their families.
According to a recent news release from Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), as of June 8, foreign nationals who are immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be permitted to travel to Canada, as long as they do not have COVID-19 or exhibit any signs or symptoms of the virus. There is also no requirement for them to demonstrate that the purpose of their trip to Canada is essential.
The goal of exempting family members from the ongoing travel restrictions to Canada is to help reunite families that have been separated since the global pandemic broke out earlier this year.
"This is an incredibly difficult time to be apart from a spouse, a child, or mom or dad," said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a news conference.
The CBSA news release also added that “The Government recognizes however that the temporary border measures put in place to fight the spread of COVID-19, while necessary, have created challenges for some families. The Government has therefore been looking at ways to keep families together and support unity while respecting the need for continued vigilance and border measures at this time.”
Who The Exemption Applies To
According to the criteria outlined in the news release, Canada considers the following individuals to be immediate family members and therefore exempt from travel restrictions:
- Spouses and common-law partners
- A dependent child, as defined in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations
- A dependent child of an individual’s spouse or common-law partner
- Parents and step-parents
- Parents and step-parents of an individual’s spouse or common-law partner
- Guardians and tutors
The main stipulation for foreign national family members who choose to travel to Canada is that they must be staying with their immediate family member(s) for at least 15 days, and must also quarantine themselves for 14 days.
This requirement may be difficult for many separated families to meet. For example, if a person’s work, such as an active duty military member, does not permit staying in Canada for 15 days, they may be prevented from seeing their close family members.
Upon arrival, the family member will also have to confirm these details and verify that they have a “suitable place to quarantine” for at least 14 days and will have access to basic necessities. They will not be able to have contact with anyone deemed a “vulnerable” person, such as adults over the age of 65, or anyone with a pre-existing medical condition (unless the vulnerable person is either a consenting adult or the parent or child in a parent-child relationship).
It’s important to note that those who would require a temporary resident visa (TRVs) and electronic travel authorizations (eTAs) to enter Canada under normal circumstances will still be required to retain them. Fortunately, processing of these applications will continue as normal, whereas other TRVs and eTA applications remain suspended.
Steep Penalties for Non-Compliance
Those that do not follow quarantine restrictions on arrival will face fines up to $750,000 and or imprisonment for six months. If they put someone else’s life at risk by ignoring those restrictions, they can face up to $1 million dollar fines and up to three years in prison.
These new measures are only valid until June 30th when Canada’s Covid-19 travel restrictions are set to expire. However, the government has stated that it will provide another update regarding the travel restrictions before this date of expiration.