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Canadian citizens and permanent residents' families outside Canada can now reunite

As of June 8 at 11:59PM EST, relatives of Canadian citizens and permanent residents living in Canada can return to the country

By JP Karwacki
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Canadians' family members can now reunite on Canadian soil when crossing over from the US, following an exemption that has been made for relatives of Canadian citizens and relatives of permanent residents living in Canada. Non-essential travel, however, remains prohibited.

On June 8, the Canada Border Services Agency announced that it would be putting a temporary border measure in place for immediate family members: Beginning at midnight on June 9, "foreign nationals who are immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents" would be exempt from the travel restrictions surrounding the Canada-US border, provided that they do not have COVID-19, have any signs or symptoms of the virus or "believe they have COVID-19".

This is far from making a casual visit over the border, however. For those that do come back under this exemption, they'll need to quarantine for 14 days, and stays in Canada will need to last at least 15 days, meaning the time required to quarantine upon arrival, plus a day, at minimum.

Now, there are specific definitions that the Canadian government has supplied when it comes to what constitutes as an 'immediate family member'. As the the government's webpage on travel restrictions states, these include:

  • spouse or common-law partner
  • dependent children (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
  • dependent child, as defined in Section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, of a dependent child referred to in paragraph (b)
  • parent or step-parent or the parent or step-parent of the person's spouse or common-law partner
  • guardian or tutor

If you believe you meet this criteria but are unsure, you are encouraged to visit the Canada Border Services Agency's website.

This is a single exemption that currently stands, but it should be noted that foreign nationals with COVID-19 symptoms arriving from the US continue to not be allowed to enter the country; only those without symptoms and arriving for non-discretionary travel may cross the border, a term which covers a range of reasons from economic services and infrastructure to support Indigenous communities, students who have held permits to study on or prior to March 18 and so forth; see the whole list here.

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