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CBSA Update: Canada Reopens National Borders to Fully Vaccinated Foreign Nationals

Updated: May 15

Initially announced on July 19, the Government of Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) have approved the reopening of national borders to eligible foreign nationals for discretionary (non-essential) purposes. This measure became effective at 12:01 am EDT on September 7, 2021. #canada #bordersreopening #internationaltravel #covid19

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CBSA Update: Canada Reopens National Borders to Fully Vaccinated Foreign Nationals

"Vaccinated travellers represent a much, much lesser risk of carrying and importing cases of COVID into the country than unvaccinated travellers, and the data demonstrates that." – Denis Vinette (CBSA's covid-19 border task force vice-president)

Canada Reopens National Borders to Foreign Nationals

As with every step of Canada’s phased approach to ease air travel into the country, the decision to reopen national borders is based on the latest available data, scientific evidence, and epidemiological situation nationally and internationally. Current public health indicators and the importation of cases at the border (including variants of concern) have also been monitored to inform this decision. According to the CBSA, between August 9-26, the Covid-19 positivity rate for travellers selected randomly to be tested at the border was 0.19% - that’s 112 positive tests out of 58,878 performed. These numbers along with continued adherence to public health measures place Canada in a more prepared position to reopen national borders and prevent outbreaks of concern.

Travel Conditions for Foreign Nationals

Here’s what you need to know about the conditions of this measure: Fully vaccinated foreign nationals will be able to enter Canada for non-essential reasons (such as tourism) if they:

1. Are fully vaccinated and show proof of the full series of a vaccine — or combination of vaccines — accepted by the Government of Canada and administered at least 14 days prior to entering Canada.                            

Please note:  Currently accepted vaccines are manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD, and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson).

2. Have a valid pre-arrival COVID-19 molecular test (also known as PCR test) result taken no more than 72 hours before their scheduled flight, or a previous positive test result taken between 14-180 days before departure to Canada.           

Please note: Antigen tests, often called “rapid tests,” are not accepted.

3. Are asymptomatic

4. Submit their mandatory information via ArriveCAN (App or website), including proof of vaccination in English or French and a quarantine plan.

5. Are admissible under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

6. Take a test on arrival, if selected.

The Ease of Travel Restrictions

The Government of Canada took this measure after easing entry rules for fully vaccinated US citizens and permanent residents living in the U.S early in August. Considered a preliminary step, the entry approval for U.S citizens and residents allowed Canada to advance with its vaccination rollout whilst testing the return of non-essential travel before opening its borders to other countries of the world. This measure opens the door for international students and foreign workers in Canada to reunite with loved ones, after a series of strict travel restrictions over the past year and a half. You may be required to Submit a new Visitor Visa application if you submitted your application before September 7, 2021 (Conditions Apply). According to the recent update by IRCC, if you submitted your Visitor Visa application before September 7, 2021, and are waiting for the decision on your application, IRCC recommends that you submit a new application if your situation has changed or if you did not let IRCC know that you come under the COVID-19 exemption. This pertains to visitors who are travelling for reasons such as uniting with an immediate or extended family member, business purposes, attending someone who is critically ill, or to be present during the final moments of life. Further details can be found here, on the IRCC website.

A Cautionary Note: The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained, and the readers are asked to refer to the government website for the most updated information.

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