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Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Information for non-Canadians students

To protect Canadians and to reduce the possible burden travellers could place on our health care system due to COVID-19, travel restrictions are in place across all ports of entry.

This section summarizes important information for non-Canadian students and travellers.

Entry restrictions

There are many factors that come into play when Canada Border Services Agency is determining if you are permitted to enter Canada. It is important to note that the final determination is made by a border services officer at the port of entry. They base their decision on the information presented to them at the time of entry into Canada.

In addition to the temporary entry restriction in place due to COVID-19, you must meet the entry requirements under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and provide appropriate travel and immigration documentation.

Travel to Canada for discretionary reasons (non-essential), such as for tourism, recreation or entertainment is currently prohibited. Unless exempted, if you do not have a non-discretionary (essential) reason to travel to Canada, a border services officer will deny you entry.

If you are displaying symptoms of COVID-19, you will not be permitted to enter Canada, regardless of your reason for travel.

Arriving from the United States

If you are a foreign national student arriving from the United States, to enter Canada, you must prove to the CBSA that you:

  • are travelling for a non-discretionary (essential) purpose or are an immediate family member
  • are not presenting signs or symptoms of COVID-19
  • have a plan to quarantine for 14 days, unless exempted

The Canada-U.S. temporary border restriction continues. All discretionary/optional travel remains prohibited.

Transiting through Canada to Alaska

As of , at 12:01 am PDT, if you are transiting through Canada to Alaska for a non-discretionary (essential) reason, you must follow stricter rules and meet additional entry conditions.

Specifically, you have to enter Canada at one of the following ports of entry (POE):

  • Abbotsford-Huntingdon ( Columbia)
  • Coutts (Alberta)
  • Kingsgate ( Columbia)
  • North Portal (Saskatchewan)
  • Osoyoos ( Columbia)

If you arrive at a non-identified POE for the purpose of transiting to Alaska, the CBSA will deny you entry and advise you to go to one of the five identified POEs.

No matter the reason for travel, if you have COVID-19 or exhibit any signs or symptoms of COVID-19, you will not be allowed to enter Canada.

Providing false information to a BSO may lead to consequences such as being denied entry and/or banned from returning to Canada.

Following admission into Canada, you:

  • will be allowed a reasonable period of stay to carry out the transit
  • must limit your travel within Canada to the most direct route to your intended POE of exit, avoiding all national parks, leisure sites and tourism activities
  • must report to the nearest CBSA POE to confirm your exit from Canada, before entering the U.S.

The CBSA will issue you a vehicle "hang tag" to attach to your rear view mirror for the duration of your transit. The tag will include the date you must depart Canada as well as information on the conditions imposed upon entry, the Quarantine and Emergencies Acts and a list of public health and safety measures to follow. These measures include:

  • avoiding contact with others while in transit
  • remaining in the vehicle as much as possible
  • not making any unnecessary stops
  • practicing physical distancing at all times
  • paying at the pump if you need gas
  • using a drive-through if you need food
  • wearing a suitable mask or face covering while in transit
  • ensuring good hygiene practices if you need to use a rest area

Arriving from a country other than the United States

If you are a foreign national student arriving from a country other than the United States, to enter Canada, you must prove to the CBSA that you:

  • are listed as being exempted from travel restrictions (including immediate family members)
  • are travelling for a non-discretionary (essential) purpose
  • are not presenting signs or symptoms of COVID-19
  • have a plan to quarantine for 14 days, unless exempted

The temporary border restriction on entry into Canada from countries other than the U.S. continues. All discretionary/optional travel remains prohibited.

Penalties and fines

Providing false information is considered misrepresentation and has consequences. If you provide false immigration information or false information about the purpose of your travel, you may be denied entry and/or be banned from returning to Canada.

Failure to comply with the current border restrictions is an offence under the Quarantine Act and could lead to:

  • up to $750,000 in fines, and/or
  • imprisonment of up to 6 months

If you cause a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person while willfully or recklessly contravening this act or the regulations, you could be liable for:

  • up to $1,000,000 in fines, and/or
  • imprisonment of up to 3 years

To report violations of the Quarantine Act (such as failure to abide by the mandatory 14-day quarantine or isolation upon entry to Canada), persons should contact the Public Health Agency of Canada or the police agency of jurisdiction.

Foreign nationals who are immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents

If you are an immediate family member of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you are exempt from travel restrictions and can enter Canada from the United States and from another country if you meet entry requirements and all of the following:

  • you do not have COVID-19
  • you do not have reason to believe you have COVID-19
  • you do not have signs or symptoms of COVID-19
  • you are entering to be with your immediate family member for a period of at least 15 days
  • you have a plan to quarantine for 14 days, unless exempted

If you intend to stay in Canada for 14 days or less, you may continue to enter Canada for non-discretionary reasons only.

Immediate family members of temporary residents in Canada, such as those on a student or work visa cannot enter Canada.

Students and temporary workers

In Canada

Until further notice, travellers should not visit a Canada Border Services Agency office to apply for a work permit, study permit or permanent residence.

Visitors, international students or temporary workers who are already in Canada can apply online to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to extend your temporary resident status.

Temporary foreign workers with employer-specific work permits who are currently in Canada can also apply online and do not have to wait to start a new job.

Outside Canada

If you are a temporary worker, you may enter Canada as long as you qualify under current entry restrictions and meet the criteria outlined in this section.

Arriving from the United States

If you are a temporary worker arriving from the United States, you must also prove to the CBSA that you meet one of the following criteria:

  • you currently live in Canada and have a valid work permit
  • you are coming to Canada for the first time to begin work (employment) and
    • you have a valid work permit or a work permit approval letter and
    • you have proof of employment at an operating Canadian business
  • you are eligible to apply for a work permit at a port of entry and have proof of employment at an operating Canadian business

Arriving from a country other than the United States

If you are a temporary worker arriving from anywhere other than the United States, you must also prove to the CBSA that you meet one of the following criteria:

  • you currently live in Canada and hold a valid work permit
  • you are coming to Canada for the first time to begin work (employment) and
    • you have a valid work permit or a work permit approval letter and
    • you have proof of employment at an operating Canadian business

Entering Canada

All travellers entering Canada are given a Public Health Agency of Canada handout with instructions to quarantine for 14 days.

Before you travel, consult provincial/territorial entry, quarantine and public health requirements.

Screening

We assess all travellers, no matter their country of origin, upon arrival to Canada. Entry screening is one of many important public health tools and part of a multilayered government response strategy.

A border services officer will ask you when you arrive in Canada at an air, land, marine or rail border about the purpose of your visit and whether you are feeling ill or unwell. The border services officer may ask additional questions as part of their assessment.

CBSA officers will look for signs of illness, regardless of how you respond to screening questions. Officers will refer any traveller they suspect is ill for a further medical assessment by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Masks

You must wear non-medical masks or face covering upon arrival in Canada. Masks or face coverings may be provided upon arrival as appropriate.

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