We are into our third month of the U.S.-Canada border being closed to all but essential traffic. This closure is a result of a discovery that many of the Canadian cases of Covid-19 had their origins in connection with travels into the U.S. To slow the spread of this vi rus , the Canadi a n and U.S. governments have agreed to lockdown cross border traffic down temporarily. The current ban has been extended to June 21, 2020 and we do not know what will happen on that date.
There are huge costs suffered by both sides as a result of this decision. Approximately 15 million Canadians visit the U.S. annually according to a GlobalData study. Over 13 million Americans make the trip northward annually. The loss of tourism dollars is considerable. On a social level, there have been stories in local media about families being split up by the closed border. Certainly, these people are looking forward to seeing their loved ones again soon.
What does a closed border mean for a foreign national, currently residing in the U.S., seeking permanent residency in Canada? It’s important to keep in mind that the lockdown applies to non-essential travel. If you wish to travel to Canada from the United States as a tourist or to visit with family, this would be considered nonessential. If you wish to come to Canada for work or for school, this could be interpreted as essential travel provided that you can demonstrate that you are unable to work or study remotely. For example, you would not be allowed into Canada if you plan to work from your residence during the pandemic. If you are coming into Canada to work in healthcare, or in some service that is vital to Canada as it copes with Covid-19, you can expect that you would be welcomed in as an essential worker.
Family reunification may also qualify as essential travel for foreign nationals leaving the U.S. to settle in Canada.
If you are a foreign national currently living in the U.S. and you are thinking of relocating to, or visiting, Canada while the border is closed, consider contacting the legal experts at the Canadian Law Group for advice specific to your unique personal circumstances.