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Opportunity Lives Here

Canadian Immigration to Launch Electronic Travel Authorization 

New system will pre-approve Visa-exempt air travellers

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has declared its plans to establish electronic travel authorization (eTA) for prospective travelers who are exempt from the obligation to acquire a temporary resident visa (TRV) before entering the country via air. The new system is slated to launch on March 15, 2016.

Canada’s eTA system will resemble the currently operational American Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Starting August 1, 2015, travelers will be able to apply for the eTA, which will be mandatory for visa-exempt entry to Canada beginning March 15, 2016. Until the new system takes effect, individuals from Visa-exempt countries who wish to enter Canada are currently not subject to systematic screening for admissibility until their arrival on Canadian soil.

Conditions for requirement

Electronic travel authorization system will only be necessary for TRV-exempt foreign nationals intending to enter Canada by air for a temporary visit. Processing of eTA will incur a small fee of seven dollars in Canadian funds. Authorization will remain valid for up to five years after the day it was issued, or until the earliest of the following dates, provided that they occur before the five-year period ends:

  • the expiry date of the applicant’s travel document (e.g., passport),
  • the cancellation date of the electronic travel authorization, or
  • the issue date for a new electronic travel authorization.

A valid eTA must include the following information about the applicant:

  • name
  • birthplace and birthdate
  • gender
  • address
  • nationality
  • passport and/or other travel document details

If a physical or mental disability prevents the applicant from applying via the electronic system, they may apply by another means, such as completing a paper form.

Exemptions from pre-approval

Certain individuals will be exempt from acquiring pre-approval for Canadian travel, including the following:

  • Canadian temporary resident visa holders
  • American nationals
  • French citizens residing in St. Pierre and Miquelon
  • some foreign diplomats
  • the crew of commercial airliners
  • holders of a visa to enter the United States via air, and whose flight stops in Canada for the sole purpose of re-fuelling
  • airline passengers through Canada who have any visa required to enter their country of destination
  • members of the military carrying out official duties for a state designated by the Visiting Forces Act
  • those with study or work permits who are returning to Canada after visiting the United States or St. Pierre and Miquelon
  • Her Majesty in right of Canada
  • any member of the Royal Family

The annual number of visa-exempt temporary visitors to Canada greatly exceeds the number of visitors who require a visa. Visa-exempt travelers from countries other than the United States constitute roughly 74% of foreign travelers who enter Canada by air.

Inadmissibility statistics for air travel

If you plan to apply for eTA when it is available, you should be aware of the possibilities for inadmissibility. A total of 7,055 visa-exempt foreign air travelers were deemed inadmissible to Canada from 2012–2013, causing considerable expenses, delays, and other inconveniences for them, their fellow travelers, the airlines, and the Canadian government. Inadmissibility may result from criminality, including involvement in espionage, terrorist organizations, organized crime groups, international human rights violations, war crimes, and other offenses against humanity. You may read more about criminal inadmissibility here. Besides criminality, other reasons for being denied entry to Canada include serious conditions endangering public health, such as tuberculosis or other contagious diseases.  Read more about medical inadmissibility here.

To speak with a Canadian immigration expert, contact our law firm.