Families separated on opposite sides of the Canada U.S. border since March due to the border closure to stop the spread of the coronavirus can finally be reunited. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today, June 8, 2020, that immediate family members of citizens or permanent residents will be allowed to enter the country as of June 9, 2020. “This is an incredibly difficult time to be apart from a spouse, a child, or mom or dad. We hear that,” said Trudeau at his daily COVID-19 press conference. “That’s why we’re bringing in a limited exemption to allow immediate family members of citizens or permanent residents to come to Canada.”
Trudeau went on to state that “We will continue to look into this matter and ensure that no matter what we do, we are keeping the safety and well-being of Canadians at the forefront of any decision.”
The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendicino emphasized that “To be clear, the immediate family exemption does not mean the border will now be open to weekend travelers, or those seeking just to attend a personal or social gathering. For people traveling from abroad, they must still have a valid visa or Electronic Travel Authorization…The purpose of this measure is not to allow people to come and go into Canada whenever they like, but rather to help Canadian families reunite during this unprecedented time,” he said.
A corresponding news release from the Canada Border Services Agency states that “The Government of Canada remains committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians and reducing the spread of COVID-19 in Canada. 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.”
The loosening of the border restrictions, however, is only in very limited circumstances and applies only to “Foreign nationals who are immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, and who do not have COVID-19 or exhibit any signs or symptoms of COVID-19.”
Immediate family members are strictly defined as:
- A spouse or common-law partner;
- A dependent child, as defined in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, or a dependent child of the person’s spouse or common-law partner;
- A dependent child, as defined in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, of a dependent child referred to in paragraph (b):
- A parent or step-parent or the parent or step-parent of the person’s spouse or common-law partner;
- A guardian or tutor.
Furthermore, visits with immediate family members must be for a period of at least 15 days and visitors admitted into Canadabased on the new exemption must quarantine for 14 days. All those who have Covid-19 or exhibit any signs or symptoms of the coronavirus continue to remain prohibited from entering Canada.
The Canada Border Services Agency website also notes that “The immediate family member will need to confirm that they have a suitable place to quarantine for 14 days where they will have access to basic necessities (such as food and medication) and not have contact with vulnerable people, such as adults aged 65 years or over and people with pre-existing medical conditions, unless the vulnerable person is a consenting adult or is the parent or minor in a parent-minor relationship. Travelers will be expected to make plans for where they will quarantine in advance of arriving to Canada.”
The Canada-U.S. border remains closed to all non-essential travel until at least June 21, 2020.