Mon | Jul 26, 2021

Immigration Corner | No exemption for vaccinated travellers to Canada yet

Published:Tuesday | June 15, 2021 | 12:07 AM

Dear Miss Powell,

I am a Jamaican living in the USA, and I was wondering if Canada has lifted the hotel quarantine restrictions on persons who are fully vaccinated? Do we still need to provide a negative PCR test? My family and I have not seen our grandmother in two years, and we promised her that we would visit as soon as the restrictions have been lifted. Is it better to fly or drive? We prefer to fly as driving could take us close to 12 hours. I look forward to hearing from you.

– M.W.

Dear M.W.,

Prime Minister Justine Trudeau announced recently that the government is looking at a “phased-in approach” to allowing cross-border travel into Canada. However, the border remains closed to non-essential travel. Only a few categories of persons will be allowed into Canada until further notice.

There is a list of permitted travellers posted on the government’s websites www.Canada.ca or www.travel.gc.ca. Individuals wishing to enter Canada should answer the questions on the government’s website to find out if they would be authorised to enter Canada and to find out the documents they would need in advance.

NO EXEMPTION FOR VACCINATED TRAVELS

The health minister, Patty Hajdu, announced recently that while the government is considering easing the restrictions for vaccinated travellers, at the time of writing this article, the hotel quarantine restrictions remain in place regardless of vaccination status.

The government has indicated that it is continuing assess factors such as the capacity of our health system and at the borders, the levels of vaccination in Canada, the situation in each province, along with the epidemiological situation in Canada and the rest of the world.

This means that all travellers arriving in Canada must follow the testing and quarantining requirement. If you choose to travel via air, you and your family would need to book and pay for the three-day stopover at a hotel in Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver. The average cost per person at these hotels ranges from CDN$2,500-$3,000. This fee is non-refundable even if you get your PCR results early.

Individuals travelling by land are currently exempted from the quarantine measures if they satisfy the requirements and have all the necessary documents outlined below.

It is anticipated that that these restrictions could ease by the end of July 2021, therefore, it may be best to travel via land or wait for the restrictions to be lifted before you and your family travel to Canada.

BEFORE YOU TRAVEL

If you choose to come to Canada at this time, you must first obtain a signed statutory declaration from your grandmother proving that you are related to her and that she will be welcoming you and your family to Canada. A notarised letter and the statutory declaration are recommended.

You must also request and provide proof of authorisation from an Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada officer. Additionally, you should ensure that you are travelling with your birth certificate and other documents such as marriage certificate (if your spouse is travelling with you) and proof of shared addresses for the persons travelling with you.

Everyone over the age of five years old entering Canada, whether by land or air, must be prepared to present a negative PCR test. This test must be completed by an authorised organisation and must have been taken within 72 hours of your departure flight or arrival at the land border. You must also provide details of your quarantine plan before arriving. Download the Arrive-Can application, and submit the required details. You need to demonstrate that you plan to stay in Canada for 15 days or more.

If you are travelling by air, you must book a three-day hotel stay at one of the quarantine hotels listed on the government’s website.

ON ARRIVAL

You will be screened by a border security officer for the standard admissibility test and the medical team to ensure that you are not a security or health risk to Canada. The border services officer will be asking you questions such as the purpose of your trip and will be observing you for signs of illness. You may be sent to a public-health agency for further assessment.

You will then be required to do another PCR test and will be given an at-home COVID testing kit with instructions on when and how to do the test, as well as being provided with instructions on where to return the kit. You will be required to remain at your quarantine location until you have had a negative test result.

During your quarantine period, you can expect to receive an email to do daily assessments, calls from the public-health authorities, and even visits from their agents or from the police.

The above-mentioned requirements have been extended to June 21, 2021, despite the reports from the Canada’s COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel, which called for the end of quarantine rules for all travellers.

Many individuals find the measures above stressful, especially considering that there is no proof that the hotel-quarantine measures work. However, these are the measures in place to stop the spread of the virus in Canada. Therefore, if your grandmother is healthy, I would recommend that you hang in there a bit longer and wait for the restrictions to be lifted.

Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public with office in Ottawa, Ontario. You may connect with her via www.deidrepowell.com, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You may also call her at 613-695-8777.