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Travel Exemption Update: International Students with Study Permits Issued Before March 18, 2020, Can Now Officially Travel to Canada

In March 2020, Canada closed its borders in an attempt to help fight the spread of COVID-19. This pandemic has left international students with study permits wondering if and when they’ll be able to enter the country. Fortunately, the Government of Canada announced on March 20 that international students with study permits issued on or before March 18, along with select other groups, would be exempt from the ban. However, the timeline of when exemptions would take effect was left unclear.

Travel Exemption Update

On March 26, the IRCC announced the detailed exemptions to the previously imposed travel bans. These exemptions now allow international students to travel to Canada if they:

  • Currently hold a valid Canadian study permit
  • Were already enrolled or accepted at a Designated Educational Institution (DEI) in Canada before the implementation of travel restrictions

Here’s what international students need to know now about entering Canada under these exemptions:

  • International students must advise airlines that they are exempt from the travel ban before boarding an aircraft in their country of origin. Students can do this by presenting their study permit or letter of invitation from the IRCC. 
  • Before boarding, international students will be subject to a health check by their airline. Students with any COVID-19 symptoms will not be permitted to board the plane, which will prevent them from travelling to Canada. 
  • International students will undergo an additional health check when they arrive in Canada, before leaving the airport. 
  • All travellers entering Canada must self-isolate immediately for fourteen days, as a precautionary measure. 

Additionally, exemptions have extended for immediate family members of individuals residing in Canada as a student. Foreign nationals are allowed to enter the country if their immediate family member is living in Canada as a worker, visitor, student or protected person.

The definition of an immediate family member for the travel ban includes:

  • Spouses and common-law partners
  • Dependent children, and children of spouses and common-law partners
  • Dependent children of dependent children of either the Canadian resident or their spouse or common-law partner
  • Parents or step-parents
  • A parent’s or step-parent’s spouse or common-law partner
  • A guardian or tutor

Just like students, family members of Canadian residents must self-identify to airlines before boarding. They must present documents that demonstrate their family member’s status in Canada, and their relationship to that family member, such as: 

  • Canadian passport
  • Proof of Canadian citizenship such as a citizenship certificate, citizenship card or provincial or territorial birth certificate
  • Canadian permanent resident card
  • Canadian permanent resident travel document (visa counterfoil)
  • Visa-exempt foreign passport and IRCC Special Authorization for Canadian Citizens

Once the immediate family member arrives in Canada, they must self-isolate immediately for fourteen days, as a precautionary measure. 

The Government of Canada announced on April 1 that the air travel ban for foreign nationals would last until at least June 30, 2020.