Canadian Immigration Update: Government Announces Changes to Ease Border Measures for Entering Travelers

Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Seyfarth Synopsis: The Government of Canada has just announced additional measures aimed at easing current border measures for travelers entering Canada.

Beginning on August 9, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. EDT, fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents of the United States, currently residing in the U.S., will be permitted to enter Canada for discretionary (non-essential) travel. Entry to Canada will continue to be prohibited for U.S. travelers who are not fully vaccinated and for all other foreign nationals, unless they already meet another exemption set out in the Orders made under the Quarantine Act.

This includes entry of unvaccinated children under 12 years of age, or unvaccinated dependent children (due to a mental or physical condition), who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents currently residing in the U.S. and who are accompanying a fully vaccinated parent, step-parent, or guardian. Unvaccinated children will no longer have to complete a 14 day quarantine, but must follow strict public health measures. This means they can move around with their parents, but must avoid group settings - such as camps or daycares - during the first 14 days after their arrival. Unvaccinated children will remain subject to the Day 1 and Day 8 testing requirements.

In order to be considered fully vaccinated, a traveler must have received the full series of a vaccine (or combination of vaccines) accepted by the Government of Canada at least 14 days prior to entering Canada. Currently, those vaccines are the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines. Travelers can receive their vaccine in any country, and must provide documentation supporting their vaccination in either English, French or with a certified translation.

Subject to limited exceptions, all travelers must use ArriveCAN (app or web portal) to submit their travel information. If eligible to enter Canada, fully vaccinated travelers will not have to quarantine upon arrival in Canada.

Changes in the Testing Requirements

Canadian citizens and permanent residents travelling to the U.S. for less than 72 hours are allowed to do their pre-entry test in Canada. Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19, but continue to test positive, can present a positive COVID-19 molecular test result on a specimen taken 14 to 180 days prior to arrival in Canada as part of the pre-arrival test requirements.

Fully vaccinated travelers will not need a post-arrival test at airports and land border crossings unless they have been randomly selected to complete a Day 1 COVID-19 molecular test.

There are no changes to the mandatory testing requirements for unvaccinated travelers.

Changes in the Quarantine Requirements

Canada will eliminate the three-night government-authorized hotel stay requirement for all travelers arriving by air as of 12:01 a.m. EDT on August 9, 2021. However, they will continue to require unvaccinated travelers to undergo Day 1 and Day 8 COVID-19 molecular tests, and complete a mandatory 14 day quarantine, subject to limited exceptions.

Also starting August 9, 2021, air carriers will be verifying that the travelers coming to Canada have submitted their information digitally by using the ArriveCAN app or website before they board their flight. Discretionary travelers who are unable to show their ArriveCAN receipt – either on their mobile device or a printed copy - will not be allowed to board their flight to Canada, as they are ineligible to enter Canada. In addition to their ArriveCAN receipt, travelers should carry their actual vaccine certificate with them to show officials at the border entry point.

Increased Airport Services:

Also effective August 9, 2021, international flights will be permitted to land at the following five Canadian airports (in addition to Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary).

  • Halifax Stanfield International Airport;
  • Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport;
  • Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport;
  • Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport; and
  • Edmonton International Airport.

Intended Upcoming Changes in Canada:

On September 7, 2021, the Government intends to open Canada’s borders to any fully vaccinated travelers (not just US citizens or US permanent residents) who have completed the full course of vaccination with a Government of Canada-accepted vaccine at least 14 days prior to entering Canada and who meet specific entry requirements.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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