New Year, New Travel Rules, New US Immigration Policy
January 2021 - 2 min read
Canadian Travel Requirements
Travel into Canada continues to be regulated (see our previous post with details) and the monthly extension of restrictions remains without any end in sight.
In late December 2020 the federal government announced a new measure to be enforced as of January 7, 2021. Now any and all travelers over the age of 5 entering Canada must show a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding a flight to Canada. The test must have been administered no more than 72 hours from the time of the scheduled departure. Further, the negative test does not eliminate the 14 day quarantine requirement.
The COVID-19 test obligation and other travel restrictions have been implemented with at least one week’s notice to the public prior to enforcement. Moving forward this may not be the case. Prime Minister Trudeau warned earlier this week that Canada may impose new travel restrictions without notice in the coming months. Any new restrictions will be put in place to minimize travel in an effort to protect the health of Canadians, especially surrounding spring break holidays.
US Travel and Immigration
For Canadians who do need to travel in the coming months, President Biden’s most recent executive order increases the precautions necessary to enter the United States:
Promote COVID-19 Safety Relating to Travel
The implementation of public health measures consistent with The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) guidelines to all modes of transportation and at the ports of entry to the United States. This includes enforcing individuals to wear masks and limit travel when at all possible. Most importantly, any traveler to the United States is required as of January 26, 2021 to provide a negative COVID-19 test within three days of boarding their flight.
In addition to implementing COVID-related precautions, in the first three days of the Biden Administration a clear statement was made that the new Administration has vastly different goals and priorities. Additional actions taken in the first three days include:
Revoking “Muslim” and “African” Bans
President Biden ended the commonly known “Muslim Ban” by directing the State Department to resume visa processing for individuals from affected countries.
Halting Construction of the Border Wall
The immediate termination of any construction of the border wall was declared following the execution of this order. Any funds associated with this construction are to be redirected to other initiatives.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) allows for immigrants brought to the United States as children to remain in the country. The order calls for Congress to enact legislation to provide a path for citizenship for those immigrants.
Decreasing Immigration Enforcement and Deportations
President Biden enacted an order to reverse the expansion of immigration enforcement. A similar memorandum extends the deferred departure protections for Liberian nationals until June 30, 2022 in line with the Liberian Relief and Fairness Act.
New Immigration Bill
The Biden Administration announced a plan to call Congress to approve a comprehensive immigration bill. The proposed bill will focus on:
- A pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers;
- Eliminating three- or ten-year entry bans;
- Facilitating legal immigration;
- Expand immigration programs through new technologies; and
- Focus on family unification and border processing.
If you have questions on these changes, please contact our Immigration Group or our Cross-Border Services Group at Field Law.