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Emerging from pandemic: Vaccinations, quarantine and Canadian immigration

Monday, July 05, 2021 @ 8:41 AM | By Jacqueline Bart


Jacqueline Bart %>
Jacqueline Bart
When the Canadian government introduced new vaccine quarantine exemption rules for fully vaccinated eligible travellers, immigration lawyers and their clients were ecstatic.

Fully vaccinated eligible workers will be quarantine exempt, as of July 6, 2021, if they meet the following conditions:

  • Have received all the required doses of the vaccine at least 14 days prior to their entry to Canada;
  • Have received a government of Canada approved-vaccine (currently, this includes: Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson);
  • Input all relevant vaccine information into their ArriveCAN app prior to travel;
  • Carry proof of vaccination (must be in English or French, or with certified translation);
  • Present proof of a negative molecular COVID-19 test taken 72 hours prior to arrival, along with a second negative COVID-19 test taken on arrival; and
  • Have a backup 14-day quarantine plan in case of a positive COVID-19 test on arrival.

In addition to the above quarantine exemption, the order-in-council under the Quarantine Act, enables those not vaccinated to enter Canada without the requirement to quarantine for compassionate and humanitarian purposes such as the death of a parent, and for non-vaccinated workers who fall within the vaccination exempt provisions of urgent work inter alia, such as a technician who needs to repair equipment which is causing a work stoppage in Canada.

Those who are not fully vaccinated and do not fall into the array of narrow quarantine exemptions will be required to quarantine. The law effectively creates a two-tiered entry system. With only six per cent of the world population fully vaccinated, quarantine requirements remain critical to entry and will continue to be part of our immigration framework for years to come.

Nonetheless, these new vaccination rules simplify travel and facilitate international commerce. Canada is open for business again, but only if the entry is non-optional and non-discretionary; in other words, the entry must be essential. Although the U.S./Canada border rules are more relaxed, entry from all other countries requires pre-vetting and approvals. Work permits for visa exempt nationals remain subject to pandemic-required visa office processing, including a travel authorization. Visa processing in non-vaccinated countries continues to be delayed by the reduced availability of biometrics and Canadian visa office staff.

Also, as of June 21, 2021, any foreign national who holds a valid Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) will be exempt from travel restrictions.

Previously, only those travellers who held a COPR issued on or before March 18, 2020, were exempt from the travel restrictions. Of course, at the time of landing in Canada, if the foreign national is not fully vaccinated, they will be required to quarantine at their own expense. By lifting the landing ban for overseas approved nationals, the government one again has signalled the reopening of our country. The entry of thousands of immigrants, plus their families, will further assist Canada’s post-pandemic economic buoyancy.

The government has announced that additional changes are forthcoming. These changes are predicated on attaining our Canadawide vaccination goals. We anticipate that this will include the pre-pandemic resumption of the ability for visa exempt nationals who are fully vaccinated to apply for work permits at the port of entry. Also, the government should reinstate regular express entry draws for overseas immigration applicants seeking qualification under the Federal Express Entry application process, so that we can continue to not only attract, but also immigrate, the best and the brightest worldwide.

Jacqueline Bart is the managing partner of BARTLAW LLP, Canadian Immigration Lawyers and the author of several law books and publications. She can be reached at bart@bartlaw.ca.

Photo credit / Prostock-Studio ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

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