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  • Andrew Carvajal

Government Eases Travel Restrictions on Students, Extended Families and Compassionate Travel

On October 4, 2020, Canada’s Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister, Marco E. L. Mendicino, announced relaxed travel restrictions to support greater family reunification, entry to Canada for compassionate reasons and the safe and gradual entry of international students.

Starting October 8, 2020, the government will expand the list of family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents who are considered exempt from Canada's COVID-19 travel restrictions. Currently, only spouses, dependent children, parents/step-parents and guardians/tutors are allowed to enter Canada to visit their family if they demonstrate the intent to stay in Canada for a period of at least 15 days.

The following extended family members will also be eligible to travel to Canada to visit Canadian citizens and permanent residents:

  • Individuals in an exclusive dating relationship with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident for at least 1 year who have spent time in the physical presence of the Canadian citizen or permanent resident during the relationship and these individuals’ dependent children

  • Non-dependent children (adult children who do not meet the definition of a dependent child in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations)

  • Grandchildren

  • Siblings (including half- and step-siblings)

  • Grandparents

Detailed information on who may qualify as an extended family member and the requirements to be eligible to travel to and enter Canada will be available on the IRCC website on October 8.

The government is also working toward introducing a new process to allow foreign nationals to be eligible to enter Canada for compassionate reasons, including being present during the final moments of life for a loved one, providing support to a person deemed critically ill, providing care to a person who medically requires support and attending a funeral or end-of-life ceremony.

Information on how to request entry to Canada and limited release from mandatory quarantine requirements for compassionate reasons will be available on the Public Health Agency of Canada website on October 8, 2020. Provinces and territories may have additional requirements and processes that must be followed.

Finally, the government announced that effective October 20, 2020, international students will also be exempt from Canada's travel restrictions provided that they will be attending a Designated Learning Institution (e.g. college or university) that has been identified by their provincial or territorial government as having a COVID‑19 readiness plan in place.

As part of their plans, schools "are expected to provide specifics to their provincial or territorial government on how they will provide information to international students on health and travel requirements before they arrive in Canada, help students with their quarantine plans and provide guidance or assistance in acquiring the necessities of life, such as food and medication, during their quarantine. Readiness plans also need to establish protocols for the health of students in the event there are suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases at the school".

Further information about these announcements can be found here.


Andrew Carvajal is a Toronto lawyer, partner and Head of Economic Immigration at Desloges Law Group. He specializes in corporate immigration, temporary permits and all types of permanent residence applications for professionals and entrepreneurs.

Twitter: @CarvajalLaw


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