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Breaking: “Essential Travel” for US/Canada Border Defined

This morning, U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins announced new restrictions at the U.S./Canadian border in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The new restrictions will go into effect at 11:59 pm tonight, March 20, 2020. 

The new restrictions now define “essential travel” allowable at land ports of entry, which includes the following individuals:

  • U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States; 
  • Individuals traveling for medical purposes (e.g., to receive medical treatment in the United States); 
  • Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions; 
  • Individuals traveling to work in the United States (e.g., individuals working in the farming or agriculture industry who must travel between the United States and Canada in furtherance of such work); 
  • Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes (e.g., government officials or emergency responders entering the United States to support Federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial government efforts to respond to COVID-19 or other emergencies); 
  • Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers supporting the movement of cargo between the United States and Canada); 
  • Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel; 
  • Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces, returning to the United States; and 
  • Individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations. 

The following travel does not fall within the definition of “essential travel” for purposes of this Notification:

  • Individuals traveling for tourism purposes (e.g., sightseeing, recreation, gambling, or attending cultural events). 

At this time, this Notification does not apply to air, freight rail, or sea travel between the United States and Canada, but does apply to passenger rail and ferry travel between the United States and Canada. 

It is also noted that these restrictions are temporary and are presently in place until 11:59 pm on April 20, 2020. 

Berardi Immigration Law is monitoring this issue closely and will continue to provide our clients with the latest updates. If you have questions on how this may impact you, please contact us today!