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TRP Canada

Canada immigration lawyer focused on helping Americans apply for a Temporary Resident Permit so they can travel to Canada with a criminal record. We offer free comprehensive consultations (unlike many businesses who demand a retainer before assessing your options).

Can I Travel to Canada During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

On March 21st 2020, the Canadian land border was closed to all non-essential travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has denied entry to tens of thousands of American citizens because their reason for travel was deemed to be "discretionary". Unless your trip is considered "essential" getting into Canada is not possible at this time.

Is the Canadian Border Currently Closed?

Yes, the Canadian border is currently closed to all non-essential travel. This includes people attempting to enter Canada to sightsee, shop, visit friends, fish, hunt, or for any other recreational or leisure purposes (basically all vacation and tourism-related travel).

How Much Longer Will the Canadian Border Stay Shut?

Canada's border is currently closed until May 21st 2021 (frequently updated).

Is the Border Guaranteed to Reopen on this Date?

Absolutely not. The current border restrictions are scheduled to expire on May 21st 2021, but could very possibly be extended further. The Government of Canada has already extended their border closure 13 times (for 30 days each time), so it is not advisable to plan a trip until there is an official announcement that the Canadian border is reopening. We expect a phased reopening when it eventually happens, likely starting with business travelers (update: some business-related travel is now allowed), people with family in Canada (update: some family-related travel is now allowed), and Americans that own property in the country. Tourists will likely be the last group authorized to visit. A Canadian border task force is currently preparing a safe strategy for reopening the border by Summer 2021.

Who Can Currently Enter Canada?

  • Pilots
  • Flight attendants / flight crew
  • Truck drivers
  • Merchant mariners
  • People with family in Canada (some rules apply)
  • People in an exclusive dating relationship with a Canadian (some rules apply)
  • Essential business travelers
  • Doctors and medical professionals
  • Individuals holding a valid Canadian Work Permit
  • Individuals holding a valid Canadian Study Permit
  • People driving through Canada to/from Alaska (some rules apply)
  • People visiting a close friend who is injured or dying (compassionate grounds in specific circumstances)

Canadian Border News & Updates

April 20th Update - The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have announced the border closure for non-essential travel between the United States and Canada is now in effect until at least May 21st 2021.

April 19th Update - The Federal Government of Canada may soon expand the types of occupations they consider "essential work" in an effort to allow more Americans to enter Canada for work purposes during the pandemic. Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister, Marc Garneau, recently told a parliamentary committee an example of a worker who may soon be classified as essential would be a technician in the auto industry, which is highly integrated between Michigan and Ontario. Even if a US citizen is viewed as an essential worker, however, if they a criminal record he or she may need IMM 1444 Criminal Rehabilitation to avoid the risk of a refusal at the Canadian border.

April 12th Update - This weekend approximately 80 people gathered near the Peace Bridge, which connects Buffalo New York to Fort Erie Ontario, to protest family separations caused by the closed border.

April 5th Update - Canadian & American politicians will be discussing the reopening of the Canadian-U.S. border this week. The in-person event is happening in International Falls, Minnesota, but the Canadians are expected to join the discussion virtually.

March 29th Update - A spokesperson for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) announced that border officers have caught 30 people entering Canada with a suspected fake COVID-19 test result. The arrests were made at Canadian airports as well as land border crossings, and many of these individuals have been charged with using a forged document.

March 23rd Update - Sources have told CNBC News that authorities may start relaxing COVID travel restrictions at the US-Canada border beginning in mid-May. Source: CNBC.

March 19th Update - The closure of the land border between Canada and America has been extended for another month and is now scheduled to expire on April 21st 2021.

March 16th Update - Canada's leader, Justin Trudeau, told reporters this week the Canadian border will reopen "eventually, but not today."

March 11th Update - New York congressman Brian Higgins, a prominent Capitol Hill lawmaker, is pushing Biden to make opening the Canada-USA border by July 4th a top priority. "Given the economic and social costs of the border closure, we must prioritize efforts to expand traveler exceptions and plan for an incremental reopening" he told CTV News.

March 1st Update - In an interview with NBC News that aired this past weekend, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered no hope of the border reopening soon. "We will continue to engage with the White House and with the administration on the best times to start releasing border measures," he said, "but right now we all need to keep safe, and that means keeping the border restrictions in place." The comments came at a time when some US Senators are calling for the Biden administration to reconsider the border restrictions that have now been in place for nearly one year.

February 22nd Update - Canada's Public Safety Minister, Bill Blair, has announced that land border crossings will remain closed to non-essential travel for at least another month. The extended border closure is now set to expire on March 21st 2021, which is exactly one year from when the pandemic-induced border restrictions first started.

February 15th Update - Beginning on February 22nd 2021, people traveling to Canada may be required to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival at the border. This includes both people flying into a Canadian airport as well as people driving into Canada, and is in addition to a recent negative COVID-19 test result already required of many travelers. If a visitor brings proof they tested positive for COVID between 14 and 90 days before their arrival at the Canadian border, they will not be required to present a recent negative test result as the illness has likely passed but not their immunity. Some essential travelers, such as commercial drivers, are also exempt from needing a negative test from within 72 hours of arrival.

February 8th Update - More than 20 members of the US Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, are pushing for changes to USA-Canada border policy. Among the suggestions from the group are establishing a bilateral plan for restoring travel, prioritizing vaccines for all CBSA and CBP officers, and allowing families divided by the border to safely reunite.

February 1st Update - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that a negative COVID-19 test will now be required of anyone entering Canada via land border from the United States, with the exception of essential travelers such as truck drivers. These changes are due to concern about new variants of the COVID-19 virus that appear to have a higher mortality rate. The Government of Canada had previously announced that a negative PCR test was needed to fly into Canada. Consequently, any American who wants to travel to Canada by land or air may now need to have a negative COVID-19 test taken in the US within 72 hours of their trip.

January 27th Update - A CBSA spokesperson has released updated numbers on how many foreign nationals have been turned away at the border because they were trying to enter Canada for non-essential reasons. Between March 22nd 2020 and January 6th 2021, CBSA agents denied admittance to more than 30 thousand travelers arriving from the United States via land and air. These figures do not include US citizens who were denied entry due to criminal inadmissibility caused by a DUI or other misdemeanor or felony conviction. Even if a person is considered essential, if they have a criminal record they may be inadmissible to Canada unless they submit a Rehabilitation or Temporary Resident Permit form (and appropriate supporting documentation and information) and are approved.

January 25th Update - Newly elected US President Joe Biden has issued a new executive order that could result in changes to border restrictions at the US-Canada land border. The order demands the immediate commencement of diplomatic outreach to the Governments of Canada and Mexico to create a plan for updating public health protocols at the border.

January 13th Update - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that Canada's land border will remain closed to non-essential travel for another month due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel restrictions at the Canadian border are now set to expire on February 21st 2021.

January 11th Update - Anyone flying into Canada in 2021 may need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before arriving in the country, according to a recent announcement by the Canadian Federal Government. Under the new protocol, air passengers must obtain a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 72 hours of their flight in order to be allowed to board the plane. The mandatory pre-departure COVID testing would affect most travelers to Canada including many US business visitors and Canadian citizens returning home. We imagine people with acceptable proof of COVID-19 vaccination (such as a "vaccine passport") may be exempt from this requirement.

December 17th Update - The Government of Canada has announced that all land border crossings will stay closed during the Christmas holidays and will not open back up until the new year. The closure of the Canadian border is now set to end on January 21, 2021. According to official CBSA statistics, there have been more than seven million successful entries into Canada during the pandemic, as visitors considered "essential" can still be allowed to cross. Now that Canadians and Americans are beginning to get vaccinated against COVID-19, we expect a reopening of the Canadian border in the next few months. If a US citizen has a criminal record but plans to go to Canada in the future, they can give us a call to learn more about how our TRP attorney can help them enter the country.

December 1st Update - Now that a COVID-19 vaccine is expected in the next few months, a Canadian border task force is devising a safe strategy to reopen the border by March 2021. The slew of travel restrictions and border rules remain in place at the moment, however, as the global outbreak lingers and case counts on both sides of the border continue to rise.

November 20th Update - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that restrictions in place at the US-Canada border will remain for another 30 days. Consequently, Canada's land border with the United States will stay closed to travelers who are not deemed essential until at least December 21st 2020. This means Americans hoping to visit Canada over the Christmas holidays may not be allowed to do so.

November 13th Update - A border "loophole" that can allow Americans to visit their Canadian friend or lover is being labeled as dangerous by critics. Peace Arch Park is located directly between British Columbia and Washington state, just south of Vancouver. Canadians can get to the park without technically entering the United States, and Americans can get to the park without technically reaching the Canadian border. For this reason, the park is now filled with tents as Canadians and Americans meet up at the unique destination located between the two border crossings. This is not advisable due to COVID-19, however, and many expect the RCMP to start cracking down on this behavior.

November 3rd Update - Residents of Point Roberts, Washington, who are completely landlocked by Canada, are frustrated that they have not been granted a special exemption from the Canadian border closure. "We are suffering and they do not care” the president of the Point Roberts Chamber of Commerce told media. Last week, the Government of Canada announced they were relaxing the rules for the border towns of Stewart BC, Hyder AK, Campobello Island NB, and The Northwest Angle of Minnesota.

October 29 Update - The premier of Quebec, Francois Legault, has told PM Justin Trudeau he should "focus on ensuring the Canadian border stays closed until the end of the year." The comments were made at a press conference earlier this week. At the moment, the Canadian border is shut to any visitors who are not viewed as essential. While it is currently possible to apply for TRP Canada access so an American's criminal history does not pose a problem at the border, even with such a waiver visiting Canada will not be feasible at the present time unless the traveler is exempted from the ongoing border restrictions.

October 26th Update - In a recent radio interview, Canadian leader Justin Trudeau said the "risks are still too great" to reopen the US-Canada border. "I think we all want to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, we also know that in order to get things back to normal we have to control the spread of COVID-19," Trudeau said. "At this point, the risks are still to great to reopen the border." Of the 4.6 million people who have arrived in Canada since the border closed, less than 25% were ordered to quarantine since most were considered essential and thus exempted from the requirement.

October 19th Update - The Government of Canada has announced an extension to the "COVID travel ban" until the 21st of November (one additional month). This means Canada's border will remain closed to any visitors who are not considered essential.

October 16th Update - Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has stated that the Canada-USA border will remain closed to non-essential travel until the United States gets coronavirus under control. "We have committed to keeping Canadians safe, and we keep extending the border closures because the United States is not in a place where we would feel comfortable reopening those borders" he told a radio show this week. "We see the cases in the United States and elsewhere around the world, and we need to continue to keep these border controls in place." Surveys show majority of the Canadian population currently support the border restrictions.

October 13th Update - According to new figures released by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), more than three thousand Americans were denied entry at the Canadian border in September. This brings the total number of foreign nationals rejected by Canada's border patrol during the pandemic to 22,414. Of these, 87% were US citizens and 13% were citizens of other countries attempting to cross the border into Canada from the United States.

October 3rd Update - Beginning October 8th, Americans can be allowed to enter Canada to visit extended family or a serious girlfriend or boyfriend. Previously, a US citizen could only visit family in Canada if they had a parent or child living in the country. As of October 8th 2020, however, a US citizen can get into Canada to visit a sister or brother, or a grandparent or grandchild. As of October 8th, Americans can also be allowed to cross the border to visit a girlfriend or boyfriend or fiancee if they have been an exclusive dating relationship for at least one year. Proof of eligibility should always be brought to the border, and couples who have not shared an address will need a notarized declaration about their relationship. If may also now be possible for some Americans to travel to Canada for "compassionate reasons" if they have a close friend who is experiencing a life-threatening illness, a critical injury, or is facing death. Traveling to Canada to attend a funeral of a special friend may also be permissible.

October 1st Update - An American man has been issued a $1,000 fine by the RCMP for contravening Canada's Quarantine Act by illegally entering the nation by boat to pick up his girlfriend in British Columbia. The man was from Bellingham, Washington and had not reporting his crossing into Canada, which would have been considered non-essential travel not currently allowed. His boat was also seized by Canadian police.

September 21st Update - US President, Donald Trump, has claimed the Canadian border would be reopening "pretty soon" and suggested it might be open by the end of the year. "We're looking at the border with Canada. Canada would like it opened and, you know, we want to get back to normal business" Trump said recently.

September 16th Update - According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the Government of Canada will soon be announcing an extension of their border closure. CBC News has published a story claiming they spoke with a source who has direct knowledge of the situation and that the Canadian border will remain closed until at least October 21st 2020. The same source also indicated that the border will likely remain closed to Americans for even longer, hinting that further extensions are very possible.

September 8th Update - According to official Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) statistics, more than 16,000 American citizens have been denied entry at the Canadian border during the coronavirus pandemic due to their reason for travel being deemed non-essential.

August 25th Update - A Kentucky man has been charged under Canada's Quarantine Act for violating the country's quarantine rules. The man was originally ticketed by RCMP for violating a quarantine order in Banff, Alberta but was then found on the Sulphur Mountain gondola the next day. He now faces a fine of up to $750,000 as well as jail time.

August 15th Update - Canadian Public Safety Minister Bill Blair has announced that the federal government will extend Canada's land border closure for another 30 days until September 21st. Americans interested in driving through Canada to Alaska are now limited to only five crossings in Western Canada and must commit to driving a direct route. Brian Higgins, a US congressman for Upstate New York who has fought against the border ban said he was disappointed but not surprised that Canada has extended the border closure. "I have come to realize that the Canadian federal government response to COVID-19 was early, strong and united. The American federal government response was slow, chaotic and adversarial" he said.

August 3rd Update - According to a recent Nanos Poll commissioned by CTV News, approximately 20% of Canadians have experienced hardship due to the closure of the USA/Canada border. 16% of survey respondents said the border closure had caused them "minor hardship" while 5% of respondents reported experiencing "major hardship" because of the closed border. Separated families are particularly affected by Canada's border closure, as some Canadians are unable to have their brother or sister visit from the United States. Several couples have even gotten married at the Peace Arch border crossing, between the US & Canadian border stations, allowing them to qualify for the spouse exemption (otherwise, you typically can't visit a girlfriend or boyfriend in Canada). Source: CTV News.

July 29th Update - Canada's federal government appears to have relaxed restrictions that would have blocked first-year university students from USA from entering the country. Previously only returning international students or those who were issued a Student Permit on or before March 18th 2020 were allowed to enter Canada.

July 24th Update - A Michigan man who works across the border in Ontario has been given permission by a labor board arbitrator to cross the US-Canada border without self-isolating for two weeks. Had the exemption not been granted, the single father would have had to either quit his job or leave his children and move to Canada.

July 17th Update - According to a new Ipsos poll, eight in ten Canadians surveyed want to keep their country's border closed until at least the end of the year. Assuming the poll is reasonably accurate and Canadian politicians are factoring in public sentiment when making decisions, visiting Canada for tourism purposes will likely not be possible any time soon. Source: Global News.

July 16th Update - According to new data provided by the CBSA, more than ten thousand US citizens have been denied entry at Canada's border during the pandemic. The new figures show 10,329 American citizens were turned away from the shared border between March 22nd and July 12th 2020. Slightly more than 2,700 of these visitors were rejected after revealing to border agents they were coming to Canada for "tourism" or "sightseeing". More than 1,200 were barred from entering Canada after admitting to agents their trip was recreational in nature. Approximately half of the US citizens were refused entry for "other" reasons, which can include criminal inadmissibility due to a past DUI or other misdemeanor or felony conviction. While American citizens were initially exempted from Canada's border restrictions, the Canadian border has now been closed for several months to all foreigners traveling for non-essential reasons.

July 15th Update - Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is pushing back against American pressure to reopen the Canadian border saying "decisions about Canada's border are made by Canadians, for Canadians." Many members of the US Congress have been imploring the Government of Canada to consider easing restrictions on Americans with family members in Canada or who own property north of the border and are impeded by the border closure. Canadian politicians are extremely hesitant to reopen their border due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the United States (earlier this week there was more than 60,000 cases registered in a single day in USA, compared to about 250 registered cases per day in Canada).

July 14th Update - The Canada border closure has been extended for another 30 days and will remain closed until at least August 21st 2020.

July 13th Update - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Donald Trump spoke on the phone today about the US-Canada border closure.

July 10th Update - 29 members of US Congress have formally asked Canada to consider reopening their border. American officials have been lobbying for a phased reopening of the US-Canada border despite a skyrocketing number of coronavirus cases in the United States.

July 2nd Update - Even though many Canadian provinces and US states are opening back up as the number of new COVID-19 hospitalizations declines, the volume of people entering Canada from the United States is still extremely low. During the second week of June (June 8th to June 14th 2020) the number of travelers entering Canada by land was down 86% and the number of people flying into Canada was down 97%. During the third week of June (June 15th to June 21st 2020) the number of people driving into Canada was down 86% and the number of inbound travelers by air was down 96%. Source: CBSA.

June 25th Update - Between March 22nd and June 16th 6,615 US citizens were denied entry at the Canadian border due to non-essential travel. A further 1,024 citizens of other countries were denied entry during this time when attempting to travel to Canada from USA. Source: CTV News.

June 21st Update - The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) fined 7 Americans last week for stopping to sightsee in Banff National Park. US citizens may be allowed to cross the border in order to drive through Canada between Alaska and the Lower 48 but are required to travel in a direct route without making unnecessary stops along the way. The tickets were issued under the Alberta Health Care Act at a rate of CAD 1200 each, but violating Canada's Quarantine Act is punishable by up to six months in jail. Source: RCMP.

June 16th Update - The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, has announced that the coronavirus border shutdown between Canada and the United States of America is being extended for another 30 days until July 21st 2020.

May 22nd Update - Americans may now be permitted to visit immediate family in Canada for important reasons provided they will be staying in the country for at least 15 days and will self-isolate for the first two weeks.

May 19th Update - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced at a press conference today that Canada's border will remain closed to tourism and other non-essential travel for another month. The Canadian border restrictions are now set to expire on June 21st 2020.

April 17th Update - Canada has announced an extension of their border closure and most Americans will remain blocked from the country for an additional 30 days.

March 21st Update - The Canadian border is now closed to all non-discretionary travel such as tourism. Some US citizens may be permitted entry for essential business such as pilots, flight attendants, truck drivers, doctors, nurses, and merchant mariners. US residents holding a valid Canadian Work Permit or Student Permit, or business professionals providing important infrastructure support (such as assisting with crucial supply chains) may also be allowed to travel to Canada. Even if considered an essential traveler, any American attempting entry into Canada with a criminal conviction (including a DUI or DWI record) risks being refused admittance by border authorities unless they obtain special permission to cross the border.

Frequently Asked Questions About Canada's Border Closure

Is my work trip to Canada considered "essential"?
Canada's border patrol agents are the ones who make the determination of what is a considered "essential business" travel, and entry is always subject to the discretion of CBSA officers. Consequently, all Americans traveling to Canada during the coronavirus pandemic should expect the nature of their trip to be challenged by border officers and consequently should bring documentation supporting the importance of their visit. For example: proof that your trip involves supporting critical infrastructure or supply chains, or assists with the transportation of food, fuel, or medicine.

Can I enter Canada to visit close friends?
No, during the COVID-19 pandemic such trips are not authorized even if it is your best friend that lives in Canada. If your close friend is very hurt or dying, however, it may be possible to enter Canada on "compassionate grounds" as determined by border agents. This can allow an American to enter Canada for an important hospital visit or funeral for a loved one who is not family.

My girlfriend / boyfriend / fiancee lives in Canada, can I visit them?
Before October 8th 2020, unless legally married or having documentation supporting common-law status an American would not be admitted into Canada in order to visit a significant other. After October 8th, however, if you have adequate proof that you are in a serious relationship with a Canadian citizen or Canadian permanent resident you may be allowed to enter. Border agents will be looking for proof the visitor has been in an exclusive relationship with a Canadian for a minimum of 12 months, and if the couple has never shared the same address a notarized declaration regarding the relationship will be needed.

Am I allowed to go fishing in Canada?
No, fishing trips (even if they have already been booked and paid for) are not considered essential travel.

Who is considered "immediate family"?
If you have a parent, child, spouse, or common-law partner that is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you may be exempt from Canada's border restrictions provided you follow all the applicable rules (such as self-isolating). When driving or flying to Canada during COVID-19 it would be advisable to bring documents proving your relationship with a Canadian. As of October 8th 2020, a US citizen or Green Card holder with a sibling in Canada can also be exempt from border restrictions, permitting those with a brother or sister in Canada to cross the border. As of October 8th, an American with one or more grandchildren or grandparents north of the border can also be sanctioned for entry.

Can I visit Canada on a hunting trip?
No, hunting trips would be considered leisure travel and such visitors are not currently allowed to cross the Canadian border.

I own property in Canada, can I cross the border?
Unfortunately, at the moment foreign nationals that own real estate in Canada (such as cottages, second homes, or land) are still prevented from crossing the Canadian border and thus are unable to visit their property. Even if the property requires urgent maintenance, there are no current exemptions for such visitors. If Canada opens their border in phases, we expect Americans that own property in Canada to be among the first given access to the country.

I heard I can fly to Canada, is this true?
There seems to be a lot of false information online claiming that only the land border between Canada and USA is closed. This is simply not true, Americans that fly into Canada for a vacation during the pandemic can also be denied entry regardless of which Canadian airport they arrive at. In a nut shell, coronavirus-related travel restrictions apply to all types of travel and can result in a border refusal whether driving to Canada, flying to Canada, or taking a boat into Canadian waters.

This sucks, why can't Americans enter Canada?
We agree, the COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges and not being able to go to Canada is a major inconvenience for some people. At the end of the day, the Government of Canada closed their border in an effort to protect their citizens and stop/slow the spread of coronavirus until there is a vaccine or herd immunity. The border was not closed to make people's lives more difficult, and the Canadian Government will open their border again when they feel it is safe to do so.

Who are you and why are you providing all this free information?
We are a Canadian immigration law firm that helps US citizens enter Canada with a DUI or other criminal history. Since we have a lot of experience with the Canadian border, we decided to create this page to keep Americans updated on the status of the border. If a US citizen has questions about crossing the Canadian border or is interested in the cost of a Canadian Rehabilitation lawyer and wants a quote they can contact us any time for a complimentary consultation.

How Can We Help?

If you have any arrests or convictions on your record and need to visit Canada, call us today or fill out this form! 24 Hour Response Time!