Travelling to Canada: Coronavirus Updates

February 9, 2021


  • Robynn Farrell

(Last Update: 22/09/20) Has your travel plans been affected by the pandemic? Unsure if you can apply for a Canadian visa or submit your permanent residency application? What is the protocol when traveling to Canada during the pandemic? Get your answers here! The Government of Canada remains committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians and reducing the spread of COVID-19 in Canada. For this reason, international travel to Canada is still banned for most foreign nationals and the Canada US-border closure has been extended.

When Will Canada’s Borders Open? 

Canada’s borders are open to those who need to enter for essential purposes such as international students and workers with the necessary documents (i.e. valid visas). The borders remain closed for international tourists until at least September 30th. The Government of Canada also extended the US-Canada travel ban until at least October 21 due to the high number of COVID-19 cases in the US. There is no guarantee that the closure will be lifted after this date, as it is negotiated on a monthly basis after risk assessments.  

Who can enter Canada? 

adult man arriving at Canadian airport with suitcase The following groups can enter Canada for essential purposes: 
  • Canadian citizens and permanent residents. 
  • Immediate family members of citizens and permanent residents planning to stay for more than 15 days. If family members plan to stay for less than 15 days they must prove that their visit is non-optional. 
  • Temporary workers who hold a valid work permit or who are approved for a work permit but have not yet been issued the work permit. 
  • International students who hold a valid study permit, or who had been approved for a study permit when the travel restrictions took effect on March 18, 2020. 
  • IEC participants outside of Canada must have a valid job offer from an employer to enter Canada at this time. 
  • Confirmation Of Permanent Residency (COPR) - holders (issued on or before March 18, 2020) from countries other than the US may travel to Canada.
  • Confirmation Of Permanent Residency (COPR) - holders from the US may travel to Canada. 

Who cannot enter Canada? 

You cannot currently enter Canada whether by land, sea, or air for non-essential reasons. These reasons include:
  • touring
  • sightseeing
  • pleasure fishing

Entering Canada: Rules and Regulations

Man wearing a mask to protect himself from COVID-19 The curve has flattened in Canada with less than 1,000 cases reported on a daily since June 2020. However, a noticeable spike can be seen in the graph below for the months of August - September. Canadian authorities said this was to be expected as the economy opened and domestic travel increased during this period. Travelling to Canada: Coronavirus Updates Source: New York Times Canada is still proceeding with caution and has rules in place for those entering Canada under the Quarantine Act. Everyone entering Canada at this time must quarantine for 14 days even if they don’t have any symptoms.  All air-travelers and commuters using modes of transportation that are federally regulated are required to wear a non-medical mask. Travelers from abroad can download the ArriveCAN app to make it easier to provide their contact information to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) in advance of entering Canada.   

Is Canada Processing Visa and Immigration Applications?

Visa application on a Ipad Canada’s main immigration system - Express Entry has been accepting applications right from the start of the pandemic, however, invitations to apply (ITA) were only sent to CEC and Provincial Nominee candidates. The good news is that Express Entry draws have started sending invitations to apply (ITA) to candidates qualifying for all three immigration programs, including the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP).  The pandemic is not affecting the number of ITAs issued for the year, in fact, this year 49,900 ITAs have been issued in the first half of 2020, whereas 2019 saw 41,800 ITAs issued at the mid-year point.  Travelling to Canada: Coronavirus Updates Source: CIC News Immigration Applications: Intake of new permanent residence applications will continue. Profiles and applications that are incomplete due to unavailable documents will be retained in the system and reviewed in 90 days. It’s important to state a reason for any missing documents.  Provincial Nomination Program Applications: Paper-based applications submitted prior to March 18, 2020, will be put on hold for those applicants who no longer have a valid job offer as a result of COVD-19.   Work Permit Applications: Processing of work permits will continue, however, the Canadian Government is prioritizing some applications above others such as essential workers in agriculture and health-related industries. As of the 20th of September, temporary workers in Canada whose work permits expired and who converted to “visitor” status may apply for a job offer-supported work permit from inside Canada and work in Canada while the application is being processed.  IEC Applications: IEC will not be sending out new rounds of invitations nor process applications. However, they continue to accept submissions of profiles into IEC pools.  Visitor Visa or eTA Applications: If you’re eligible to travel to Canada then you can apply for a visitor visa. If you’re not eligible to travel to Canada you may still apply and if your application is approved you must wait for the travel ban to be lifted in order to come to Canada.  Study Permit Applications: Processing of study permits will continue, however, the Canadian Government is prioritizing some applications above others. The time students spend studying outside of Canada may still count towards their PGWP. 

Get a Head Start - Start Your Visa Application Today

Canada’s borders are open to those who want to travel to Canada for essential reasons and it is expected to open very soon for international tourists. Keep in mind that the Government of Canada has a back-log of visa applications to work through. For these reasons, if you want to come to Canada to work, study, or start your immigration application it's best to get started right away.  At MDC, we take the stress and hassle out of planning to come to Canada. Our accredited RCICs (Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants) are ready to evaluate your eligibility, review all documentation, and submit all documentation on your behalf. Using an RCIC not only gives you the best possible chance of receiving your visa but will make the entire process simple and stress-free.