Travel restrictions remain in place for Canada. These restrictions are designed to protect Canadians from the spread of coronavirus. Of course, closing off the borders isn’t practical in every circumstance. This is why Canada has deemed certain trips “essential” and others “non-essential.”
For instance, foreigners who are exempt from Canada’s coronavirus travel restrictions include temporary foreign workers, immediate family members of Canadians and some international students, among others. They must still demonstrate that the purpose of their trip is for essential reasons. In other words, the trip must be non-discretionary or non-optional.
What Travel Purposes are Considered Essential?
Please note that even if you are eligible to travel, it remains up to the border officer to assess whether or not your trip to Canada is permissible. Here are some of the travel purposes that are considered essential:
- Economic services and supply chains
- Providing services essential to the health, safety, security and economic well-being of the country
- Supporting indigenous communities
- Receiving immediate medical care, safety and security
- Transiting through Canada for essential purposes
- Studying in Canada
- Tending to sick family members
- Other activities that are deemed as non-optional
What Travel Reasons are Considered Non-Essential?
Now that you know what essential purposes look like to the Canadian government, let’s review what “optional” or “discretionary” travel is:
- Visiting family for a vacation
- Coming to Canada for the birth of a baby
- Visiting a secondary home for upkeep or maintenance
- Attending a funeral for a family member
All Essential Travelers Must Have a Quarantine Plan in Place
Anyone traveling to Canada must quarantine for 14 days when they arrive. If you are eligible to travel, you will need to provide this plan immediately. You will be asked specific questions such as where you will stay, how you will get groceries and medicine and if you’ll expose vulnerable people. If you cannot provide specifics on your quarantine plan, you may be asked to stay in a hotel or another facility.
Certain essential travelers and work permit holders may be exempt from completing the quarantine period if they work in an occupation that is essential for health, safety and food security reasons. The same applies to truck drivers, pilots, flight attendants etc. Essential work permit exempt foreign nationals also include:
- Providers of emergency services
- Workers in marine transportation
- Workers entering Canada to deliver, maintain or repair medical equipment
- People entering Canada to make medical deliveries
- Students training in the health field
What if I am an essential traveler but have a Criminal Record?
If you have a criminal record and need to enter Canada, things may be more difficult with the new coronavirus restrictions. It’s best to speak with an immigration attorney about your options. If you are admissible to travel to Canada, you may benefit from a legal opinion letter. If you are criminally inadmissible, you may require a temporary resident permit (TRP) or criminal rehabilitation. While it may be more difficult to enter Canada, you do have options.