January 28, 2021
Written Authorization from IRCC Required for Certain Visitors to Canada
This month marked one-year since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Canada. Now, a year later, we find ourselves living in a new reality where masks are mandatory and social distancing has become second nature. With this came extensive travel restrictions which have evolved over the last year, and which of course has significantly impacted Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) process and program delivery. Below, you will find the latest from IRCC, who works in conjunction with Canada Border Services Agency to control the flow of people into Canada. Note that while the information provided below is current as of the date of writing, because IRCC’s notices and instructions with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic are constantly changing, please consult the IRCC website directly for the most up to date information.
Presently, travel to Canada is permitted only for those who are exempt from the current travel restrictions, such as Canadian citizens, Canadian permanent residents, persons registered under Canada’s Indian Act, and protected persons. All others (i.e., foreign nationals) can only travel to Canada if eligible. Immediate family members of Canadian citizens, permanent residents, or persons registered under Canada’s Indian Act are eligible to travel to Canada as long as they are staying for fifteen days or more and have a quarantine plan. If they are staying for less than fifteen days, their travel must be for a non-discretionary purpose.
However, extended family members of Canadian citizens, persons registered under Canada’s Indian Act or permanent residents must also request written authorization from IRCC before they are permitted to travel to Canada, in addition to proving they are an extended family member and meeting the requirement that they will stay in Canada for fifteen days or more. The following relationships are considered to meet the definition of “extended family member” in relation to a Canadian citizen, person registered under Canada’s Indian Act, or permanent resident:
- In an exclusive dating relationship for at least one year and have spent time in the physical presence of that person at some point during the relationship (both persons must be 18 years of age or older);
- A non-dependent, or adult, child;
- A grandchild (dependent child of non-dependent adult child);
- A sibling, half-sibling, or step-sibling; or
- A grandparent.
The latter four also apply to the extended family member of the spouse or common-law partner of a Canadian citizen, person registered under Canada’s Indian Act, or permanent resident. The above is of course dependent on having a valid visitor visa or electronic travel authorization (eTA) if required, and IRCC has advised that they are prioritizing such applications for those who are eligible to travel to Canada right now. If you need to apply for a visa or eTA to Canada and want more information about how to apply and if the above applies to you, feel free to contact us to schedule a consultation.