Sas & Ing, Barristers & Solicitors, Immigration Law Centre

Canadian Immigration Lawyers Discuss Pandemic Travel Restrictions

Sas & Ing Immigration Lawyers in Canada discuss how new extended family members category of travellers allows travellers to reunite with Canadian family members


Vancouver, BC -- (ReleaseWire) -- 11/19/2020 --As a team of immigration lawyers in Canada, the team at Sas & Ing has been negotiating the pandemic like everyone else. A new blog article discusses how easing restrictions are finally allowing travellers to reunite with Canadian family members. For more go to

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic. Within a week, Canada had implemented its first travel restriction order effective March 18, 2020, under the Quarantine Act to prohibit international travel into Canada from any country other than the United States.

Two days later on March 20, 2020, newly implemented restrictions extended to travellers coming from the United States too. Since that time, the international travel restrictions have slowly been relaxed for travellers seeking to enter Canada, especially for those who are travelling to be reunited with loved ones.

The initial travel restrictions introduced in March 2020 were strict and made it difficult for travellers to come to Canada. They were also hard to understand because different rules applied depending on where the traveller was coming from. Those early versions of the travel restrictions prohibited travellers coming from outside the United States (Non-US travellers) to enter Canada to reunite with loved ones unless they could show that they were "immediate family members" of Canadian citizens or permanent residents, which were narrowly defined to include spouses or common-law partners and dependants.

Alternatively, non-US travellers had to obtain special written approval from the government if they sought entry to Canada for family reunification purposes but did not fall within the narrow definition of being immediate family members of Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

On the other hand, travellers coming from the United States (US travellers) were prohibited from entering Canada if they were travelling for an "optional" or "discretionary purpose". Unfortunately for those US travellers, during the early stages of the pandemic any proposed trip to reunite with loved ones in Canada was often viewed as optional and discretionary and many people were turned away for this reason. This occurred even to US travellers who were immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents because the travel restrictions applicable to US travellers did not include a clear exemption to allow immediate family members to enter Canada.

These travel restrictions began to relax by June 8, 2020, when the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) announced that the definition of "immediate family members" had been broadened to include guardians and tutors, as well as parents or step-parents of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident or their spouse (in-laws). Furthermore, the travel restrictions applicable to US travellers were amended to include a written exemption allowing immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents to enter Canada, without having to argue for their entry on a case-by-case basis depending on the purpose of their trip.

The travel restrictions were further relaxed on October 2, 2020, when Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced the new "extended family members" category of travellers who could come to Canada to reunite with loved ones. This broad category includes non-dependent children, grandchildren, grandparents, and siblings of Canadian citizens or permanent residents and even people who are in an exclusive dating relationship with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident for at least a year.

Just as Canadians have adjusted to life during the pandemic over these past seven months and businesses slowly began to reopen in this new normal, so too has the government begun to reopen the country to international travellers, especially those seeking to reunite with loved ones living in Canada.

These efforts should be applauded. With the holiday season fast approaching, however, and with "COVID fatigue" setting in for many people, the demand to travel to Canada can be expected to increase. The government should continue to take a slow and measured approach when it comes to relaxing the international travel restrictions that are in place to balance the need to facilitate family reunification against the need to protect the health and wellbeing of all Canadians.

With concerns that Canada is already experiencing a second wave of the pandemic, it may be some time again until the international travel restrictions are further relaxed for family reunification or other purposes. Travellers who are thinking about coming to Canada should familiarize themselves with the most up-to-date travel restrictions and apply early for their visas or electronic travel authorizations if they are eligible to travel.

To learn more, please call 1-604-689-5444 and connect with one of the Canadian Immigration lawyers at Sas & Ing.

About Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre
Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre has over 30 years of continued in-depth and comprehensive expertise in most aspects of Canadian Immigration practice. Sas & Ing have facilitated applications to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), Service Canada and Canada Border Services Agency. Catherine & Victor work closely with other lawyers specializing in Business, Employment, Tax, and Real Estate to provide comprehensive legal advice to companies and individuals as they navigate the regulatory requirements necessary for temporary or permanent establishment in Canada.

For additional information, please visit or call (604) 689-5444

Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre
Catherine Sas
(604) 689-5444
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