Unmarried spouses, grandparents, siblings, adult children, and grandchildren can now visit their families in Canada. In June, IRCC amended their travel restrictions to grant exemptions for the Immediate family members of Canadians. This new release from IRCC greatly expands the type of family members that can now visit.
The new rules will also permit, in limited circumstances, a release from the mandatory 14-day quarantine. A release from quarantine would only apply to visitors or returning Canadians who are coming to Canada for compassionate reasons and have received a special exemption.
The Oct. 2 IRCC decision to loosening travel restrictions for some international students and extended family members of Canadians were, according to the releases, made possible by new safety measures implemented at Canadian ports of entry.
Types of extended family members exempt from Canadian travel restrictions
- Individuals who are in a long-term, exclusive relationship with a Canadian for at least one year and have spent time in the physical presence of their Canadian partner during their relationship. Their dependent children will also be allowed entry.
- Adult children or grandchildren of a Canadian.
- Siblings of Canadians (including half- and step-siblings).
- The grandparents of Canadians.
- Some foreign nationals not included in the list above but who must enter Canada for compassionate reasons.
Full details on the precise definitions of extended family members and requirements to visit will be made available on Oct. 8 on the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website.
Requirements for extended family members to visit Canada
In order to be eligible to receive an exemption from Canadian travel restrictions, the visitor must fall under one of the five categories listed above. They must also:
- Intend to stay in Canada for 15 days or more.
- Provide all required data to IRCC as well as sign a statutory declaration to show they meet the definition of an extended family member of a Canadian.
- Meet all existing eligibility criteria and admissibility requirements to enter the country.
- Be in possession of a valid passport and travel document (a Canadian visa or electronic travel authorization).
- Receive written authorization from IRCC to travel to Canada as an extended family member.
The IRCC release encourages potential visitors to Canada to not make travel plans until you have met all the eligibility requirements and have received authorization to visit.
There is no indication of processing times for these types of applications. However, IRCC has made significant commitments to improve processing times for family unification.
New measures at Canadian borders for public health and safety
IRCC’s decision to relax travel restrictions for some classes of visitors is in part due to additional measures to strengthen the public health presence at the border and enhance quarantine monitoring.
The Canadian government is working to increase the number of public health officials at ports of entry. By the end of the fiscal year, Canada will have 190 public health officials across the country. These officials will provide 24/7 assistance to border officials.
The federal government is also enhancing information sharing with the provinces and territories and increasing the number of quarantine compliance officers.
Individuals found in noncompliance with the mandatory 14-day isolation period can face fines. For the first offence, an offender could receive a ticket for $1000. Individuals can receive tickets multiple times. If an individual is found to have repeatedly violated quarantine rules, these penalties can be raised to $750,000 and up to six months in prison. More serious violations can carry fines up to $1,000,000 and up to 3 years in prison.