July 9, 2015 – Canada will begin accepting applications
for its new Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) program on August
1, 2015. As of March 15, 2016, foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries will be required to
obtain an eTA prior to travelling to Canada as part of a new entry
The program is the product of a joint U.S.-Canada border action
plan to cooperate on prescreening of travelers in order to identify
security threats. The Canadian system is similar to the
Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) for visa-waived
nationals travelling to the United States.
Who is affected?
All foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries, as well as
U.S. permanent residents, travelling to Canada by air must obtain
an eTA prior to boarding their flight. U.S. citizens, as well as
foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries who enter Canada by
land or sea, are not affected.
How does it work?
Affected foreign nationals must apply online for eTA. An
approved eTA may be issued within minutes and are valid for up
to five years (or until the expiry of your passport, whichever is
sooner). Starting August 1st, foreign nationals who are approved
for a work permit or study permit in Canada will be automatically
issued an eTA and will not be required to submit a separate
Foreign nationals already in Canada on work or study permits
will need to apply for an eTA if they wish to leave Canada and
return by air.
What should you do?
Although travelers may continue to rely on their visa-exempt
status until eTAs become mandatory on March 15, 2016, affected
foreign nationals are encouraged to apply during the transition
period starting August 1, 2015 to avoid any last-minute rush.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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