On June 8, 2020, the Order in Council applicable to foreign nationals entering Canada from any country other than the United States and the Order in Council applicable to foreign nationals entering Canada from the United States (the Orders), came into effect at 11:59 EDT.
Under the Orders, a foreign national1 who is an immediate family member of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident will now be permitted to travel to Canada to be with their immediate family member(s). Under the previous COVID-19 related measures, this was not possible.
What conditions and requirements apply to affected foreign nationals?
Although this measure may be welcome news for a great number of affected Canadian citizens, Canadian permanent residents, and foreign nationals, it is important to note that foreign nationals entering Canada will be subject to certain conditions and requirements, including:
- Applicability: As mentioned above, the Orders only apply to foreign nationals who are immediate family members of a (i) Canadian citizen or (ii) permanent resident. In practice, this means that not all foreign nationals with family ties to Canada will be able to enter the country. For example, foreign nationals who are immediate family members of temporary residents in Canada, such as those on a student or work visa, do not fall under this exemption, and therefore are not admissible to Canada for the purposes of being reunited with an immediate family member.
- Minimum stay requirement: The foreign national must intend to stay in Canada for at least 15 days. Those who intend to stay in Canada for 14 days or less may continue to enter Canada for non-discretionary (essential) reasons only.
- Quarantine requirement: The foreign national must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
- Health & safety conditions: The foreign national will not be allowed to enter Canada if they have tested positive for COVID-19, there is reason to believe they have COVID-19 or show signs or symptoms of COVID-19.
Who is considered to be an "immediate family member"?
The Orders now add "immediate family member" as an exemption to the COVID-19-related travel restrictions. As a result, foreign nationals who are immediate family members of a (i) Canadian citizen or (ii) permanent resident may now have the ability to visit Canada. Under the Orders, "immediate family member" includes:
- The spouse or common-law partner of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident;
- A dependent child of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, or of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident's spouse or common-law partner. Here, a "dependent child" is a child who is unmarried and less than 22 years of age; or is older than 22 but is unable to be financially self-supporting due to a physical or mental condition;
- The parent or step-parent of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, or of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident's spouse or common-law partner; or
- The guardian or tutor of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
When do the Orders expire?
Although each of the Orders came into force on June 8, 2020 at 11:59 EDT, they expire on different dates:
- The Order in Council applicable to foreign nationals entering Canada from any country other than the United States will remain in effect until 11:59 pm EDT on June 30, 2020
- The Order in Council applicable to foreign nationals entering Canada from the United States will remain in effect until 11:59 pm EDT on June 21, 2020
Take-aways: How do the Orders affect employers and what tips should employers consider?
In light of these new travel restrictions, there are a number of key take-aways and tips that employers may want to consider at this time, including:
- Provide employees with directions on how to protect health and safety in the workplace should they plan to welcome or house family members entering Canada from abroad under the Orders. This, for instance, could take the form of temporary flexible work arrangements or modified work conditions whereby employees who may be in contact with the visiting family members, either upon their arrival in Canada, or during the mandatory quarantine period, are permitted to work from home for 14 consecutive days.
- Encourage employees welcoming family from abroad to have a plan providing for (i) where the visiting family member will stay during quarantine; (ii) where the visiting family member will stay afterwards; and (iii) what to do should the employee or visiting family member exhibit COVID-19 symptoms or otherwise require medical attention in Canada.
- If necessary, amend and update any workplace travel guidelines or policy to reflect all changes included in the Orders.
- Employees who welcome family members from abroad, especially children or the elderly, may as a result have heightened family-related responsibilities at home. To that end, employers will recall that under human rights legislation, employees have the right to be accommodated on family status grounds, up to the point of undue hardship.
We will keep you updated as new developments are made public on this subject.
1. Please note that under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, a "foreign national" means a person who is not a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident, and includes a stateless person.
Originally published June 9, 2020
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