The government of Canada has introduced a new entry requirement,
known as an electronic travel authorization (eTA)
which will be mandatory effective March 15, 2016. The
program is the product of a joint U.S.-Canada border action plan to
cooperate on pre-screening of travelers to identify security
threats. The Canadian program is similar to the Electronic
System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) for visa-waiver nationals
travelling to the United States. Below is a summary of the eTA
Who is impacted?
All foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries (such as
Germany, United Kingdom, Australia) , as well as U.S. permanent
residents, travelling to Canada by air must obtain an eTA prior
to boarding their flight. Entry requirements for other methods of
travel (land, sea) have not changed.
Foreign nationals already in Canada on work or study permits,
issued before August 1, 2015, will need to apply for an eTA if they
wish to leave Canada and return by air. To determine if an eTA is
required, please visit: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas.asp.
Who is exempt from the eTA requirement?
The following foreign nationals are exempt from the eTA
Citizens of the United States (does not include Permanent
Travelers with a valid study or work permit issued after August
Accredited diplomats, consular officers, representatives or
officials of a country other than Canada, of the United Nations or
any of its agencies, or of any international organization of which
Canada is a member.
Visitors, students and workers, who seek to re-enter Canada
after solely visiting the United States, provided that they return
to Canada by the end of the period initially authorized for their
stay or any extension to it.
The application process for an eTA became available as of August
1, 2015. On March 15, 2016, this entry requirement will become
mandatory and travelers will need an eTA before they can board a
flight to Canada.
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 now to avoid potential
issues such as system disruption as the deadline date
The eTA is electronically linked to the traveler's passport
and is valid for five years or until his or her passport
expires, whichever comes first. Since the eTA is electronically
linked to the traveler's passport, no physical document or
proof will be issued to holders of a valid eTA but it would be
prudent to carry proof of filing.
What information do travelers need to apply for an eTA?
Applicants must have a valid passport, an email address and a
credit card to complete the online form. The applicant will be
asked questions regarding their biographical data and background
questions assessing their admissibility to Canada. Applicants can
only apply for an eTA for one person at a time. For example, for a
family of three people, an application for an eTA will need to be
completed and submitted three times.
How long does the application take and when is an application
Applying for an eTA is a simple and inexpensive ($7 Canadian)
online process that will take just a few minutes. Most applicants
will get their authorization within minutes of submitting the
online form. However, some requests may need more time to process.
If this is the case, applicants can expect an email from
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) within 72 hours that
informs the applicant of the next steps such as a request for
additional supporting documents or an interview. An applicant may
be found inadmissible if they present security concerns, have
previous criminality, serious health concerns, insufficient
financial resources or have made a misrepresentation in the
application. As the eTA program is new, definitive processing times
are not yet available.
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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