IRCC : Information on the new travel restrictions and privately sponsored refugee arrivals

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, February 17th, 2021

To help prevent the further introduction and transmission of COVID-19 and its new variants, the Government of Canada has introduced additional measures to protect the health and safety of Canadians.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) clients who are currently eligible to travel to Canada, in accordance with the travel restrictions and exemptions, are still able to do so. This includes privately sponsored refugees who received their permanent resident visa prior to March 18, 2020.

Since January 7, 2021, privately sponsored refugees - as is the case with all international travellers - must have a valid negative COVID-19 molecular test result within 72 hours of pre-departure. Pre-departure testing is arranged by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and is paid for by IRCC.

As refugees become ready to travel, IRCC will continue to contact private sponsors before any travel arrangements are made, to ensure they are prepared and ready to welcome the refugee newcomers. This includes providing a place where these newcomers can complete their quarantine period.

Sponsors must provide IRCC with a copy of the quarantine plan for the refugees they have sponsored before travel will be booked.

IRCC will send to private sponsors a Notification of Arrival Transmission to share information on upcoming arrivals, generally more than 10 days in advance of arrival. IRCC is also notifying the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and provincial health officials of upcoming arrivals.

Refugees must also provide contact and quarantine information upon and after entry into Canada via ArriveCAN. ArriveCAN information, if not completed before departure, can be provided on arrival in Canada. Assistance from a port of entry service provider organization will be available.

When privately sponsored refugees land in Canada, they will stay in government-authorized accommodation for their first 3 nights while they await the results of the COVID-19 test they are given on arrival. A government-funded resettlement service provider will coordinate the hotel bookings and transportation to the hotel. The hotel will be paid for by IRCC.

IRCC asks private sponsors to help the refugee newcomers complete the daily check-in requirement on ArriveCAN for the quarantine period. This includes the first few days they are in Canada, but haven’t yet arrived in the community.

Once a negative COVID-19 test result is received, refugees will continue to their final destination, where they will be required to quarantine for the remainder of the 14-day quarantine period, or longer, as required by health authorities in your region. If the refugee is already in the community where they will stay, sponsors will pick the refugees up from the hotel. If further domestic travel is required, sponsors should plan to pick the refugees up at that final destination.

If a positive COVID-19 test result is received, the individuals will be transferred to a PHAC-administered designated quarantine facility in the city where they landed. This will be paid for by the Government of Canada.

IRCC is aware of the importance of keeping families together and will make every effort to do so during the hotel stay, or if someone tests positive and needs to be transferred to a PHAC facility. Arrangements will also be made for those who require medical treatment during their hotel stay.

The hotel rooms will have WiFi and phones, so private sponsors will be able to contact the refugee newcomers. Private sponsors will not be able to visit the refugee newcomers during the 3-day period or while they are in a quarantine facility, if needed.

To protect everyone’s safety and to ensure that the refugees have taken the appropriate tests and have all the necessary travel documents and quarantine plans, IRCC strongly encourage private sponsors to let the IOM make travel arrangements for resettled refugees. 

Toward the end of the quarantine period at their final destination, refugee newcomers are required to take a second COVID-19 test provided by PHAC. The second test is self-administered and instructions will be provided by PHAC on how to take the test and send it back.

Resettled refugees will be required to stay in their place of quarantine until the quarantine period has ended and a negative test result is received.

IRCC understands that many of private sponsors and refugees will be anxious to ensure that this new requirement does not delay resettlement further.

IRCC remains committed to the safe movement of refugees as soon as conditions permit, while continuing to protect the safety of all involved.

You can get more information on the new travel requirements from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada