Non-optional and non-discretionary travel: COVID-19 program delivery

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Air travel and border measures have been implemented to protect the health and safety of Canadians by restricting optional and discretionary international travel. These instructions describe IRCC’s role in supporting the administration of these measures and provide guidance on how to assess non-optional and non-discretionary travel.

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Restrictions overview

Restrictions vary depending on from where the foreign national is departing. However, any COVID-19-symptomatic travellers will not be permitted to enter Canada.

Foreign nationals seeking to travel to Canada from any country other than the United States while the travel restrictions are in place need to satisfy government officials that

Foreign nationals seeking to travel to Canada from the United States while the travel restrictions are in place need to satisfy government officials that

For more information on travel restrictions affecting foreign nationals, see Travel restriction measures: COVID-19 program delivery.

Regardless of whether the foreign national is travelling from the United States or any other country, upon entry, they will be required to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days. They will be asked to provide evidence of a quarantine plan, such as

This information is pertinent to an officer’s decision as to whether travel is for a non-optional or non-discretionary purpose.

Examples of travel for a non-optional or non-discretionary purpose

The exemptions under the Orders do not apply to foreign nationals travelling for optional or discretionary purposes. The onus is on the foreign national to demonstrate the purpose of their travel.

Broad definition

Travel for optional or discretionary purposes is broadly defined in the Orders as including (but not limited to) travel for the purposes of tourism, recreation and entertainment.

Some examples of discretionary or optional travel are

Travel for the following purposes would be considered non-optional or non-discretionary:

Family reunification

Officers should be aware that family ties will not automatically qualify the foreign national for non-optional or non-discretionary travel. Family members will be required to show that they are not travelling for a discretionary or optional purpose such as a routine family visit.

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