Changes to Family Exemptions for the Canadian Border

Covid-19 has brought a number of unprecedented challenges in 2020, from increased isolation to the closure of businesses around the globe. One of the most difficult changes for some Canadians has been the closure of the Canada U.S. border since March. The border closure has meant that families living on opposite sides have been separated and couples in long-distance relationships haven’t been able to see each other in 8 months.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a relaxation of the closure in June that allowed immediate family members of citizens or permanent residents to be able to enter the county. The border exceptions included parents, dependent children, or spouses and were heavily regulated. Visiting family members had to stay for at least 15 days and were required to quarantine for 14 days. Also, people with Covid-19 or symptoms of the disease were not allowed to enter the country.

As of October 8, 2020, the travel restrictions were further relaxed to allow family members and loved ones to reunite. While the June restrictions allowed dependent children to visit their parent or parents, the newest relaxation allows non-dependent adult children to visit their parents as well. It also allows grandchildren, grandparents, siblings, stepsiblings, and half-siblings to visit family in Canada. Perhaps the biggest new allowance is that partners can now visit each other across the border. To qualify, according to the Canadian government’s published regulations, you must have been “in an exclusive dating relationship, have been in the relationship for at least 1 year and have spent time in the physical presence of that person at some point during the relationship.”

In order to proceed with a family reunification at this point, there are several steps you need to follow.

  1. First, your family member or loved one in Canada has to fill out the application for authorization and statutory declaration form. The form was updated on October 9, 2020, so make sure you download the most recent form to avoid delays.

  2. The completed form must be sent to the family member or loved one in the U.S. and they must sign the form and send it back to the party in Canada.

  3. The Canadian family member or loved one has to then sign the form by solemn declaration in front of an official who has been legally authorized to receive and witness such a signature. Commissioners for the oaths, justices of the peace, lawyers, or notary publics are all authorized to accept these signatures.

  4. The Canadian party must then make a copy of the completed form and send the copy back to the loved one or family member in the U.S.

5.Finally, the party in the U.S. can submit a request for written authorization from the Canadian Government using a copy of the completed form as evidence of their relationship with the family member or significant other in Canada. The process to request written authorization will differ depending on whether you already have a valid travel document or not.

Make sure you or your family members do not book a flight until you receive a written authorization to travel. Your request may be denied, and you don’t want to be stuck with flights that you can’t use.

Once you have your authorization, make sure you bring the authorization and the completed copy of the application for authorization and statutory declaration when you travel. If you do not have these items, you won’t be allowed to board your flight or enter the country. It is also important to note that the form is only good for 6 months. If you have not traveled within six months of the form being signed by solemn declaration, you will have to start the process over again.

In order to board a flight to Canada, there are also a number of things that you will have to do.

  1. First, you must be sure to follow all requirements set by the airline and pass the health check conducted at the airport. If you have symptoms of Covid-19 you will not be able to board.

  2. Make sure you tell the airline that you have are exempt from travel restrictions and have all of your valid travel documents with you.

  3. Have your forms and additional proof that you have a significant other or extended family that you are visiting if you are asked to provide it.

4.Finally, you must be able to provide something that shows you intend to stay in Canada for 15 days or longer or that you are traveling for an essential purpose.

Make sure you follow all of the steps and regulations carefully if you or a loved one is planning on taking advantage of the travel restriction relaxation. Any small errors could cost you greatly in time or money.

Check out the government's website for more info!

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