On September 29, 2016 the leniency period will end and all
visa-exempt foreign nationals travelling to Canada will require an
Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). An eTA can be obtained
through an online pre-screening process that is designed to enhance
the safety and security of Canadians, speed up the immigration
process and prevent unnecessary costs and undue delays that
typically result from the arrival of inadmissible travellers at
Canadian airports and their subsequent removals.
While the eTA was first made available
on August 1, 2015, it became a mandatory travel requirement for all
visa-exempt foreign nationals on March 15, 2016. Prior to its
implementation, foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries were
not subject to any type of security screening prior to arriving at
a Canadian airport. Therefore, despite the substantial leniency
period, some travellers may still be surprised to find that they
are unable to board their flight without an eTA in the near
Luckily for travellers most eTA
applications are processed and approved within minutes. An eTA is
obtained through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada's
(IRCC) online application system and requires detailed information
regarding an applicant's health, criminal history, travel
history and contact information. If approved, the eTA is
electronically linked to a passport and remains valid for a period
of five (5) years or until the passport expires, whichever comes
first. If you receive a new passport, you will have to apply for a
new eTA and re-pay the $7.00 processing fee.
However, not all applications are
processed as quickly as outlined above. In the event that an eTA
cannot be automatically approved it is referred to an IRCC officer
for review. Upon review, the IRCC officer can request additional
documents or transfer the application to a Canadian visa office for
further processing. As a result some applications can take days if
not weeks. Therefore travellers should apply for an eTA well in
advance of their anticipated travel date.
The eTA program mirrors the Electronic
System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) program currently in force
in the United States. As with the ESTA program, certain exemptions
exist and U.S. citizens, Canadian Permanent Residents and
individuals with a valid Canadian visa are not required to obtain
an eTA in order to travel to Canada by air. In addition, foreign
nationals arriving by land and sea are also exempt from the eTA
While Canadian citizens, Canadian
Permanent Residents and foreign nationals holding a valid Canadian
visa do not require an eTA, they may still be affected by the
associated legislated changes that are about to take effect. For
example, Canadian citizens with dual citizenship may only travel to
Canada by air using their Canadian passport. They will no longer be
able to travel to Canada using an alternate passport and will not
be able to obtain an eTA for any other passport.
Canadian Permanent Residents will be
required to travel with a valid Permanent Resident Card and their
passport. As a result, it will become extremely important for
Permanent Residents to monitor the expiry date of their Permanent
Resident Card, a renewal for which can take many weeks to
Study or work permits issued on or
after August 1, 2015 were automatically issued an eTA with the
permit and do not require any further action. However, study or
work permits issued on or before July 31, 2015, require an eTA
prior to travel to or from Canada by air.
Overall, if you are a Canadian or U.S.
citizen, remember to always use your Canadian or U.S. passport when
travelling to Canada by air. Alternatively, if you are a foreign
national, ensure that you apply for an eTA well in advance of your
departure. Inadmissibility issues must be dealt with prior to
applying for an eTA. In addition, the refusal of an eTA application
can only be challenged through an application for judicial review
to the Federal Court of Canada.
January 4, 2017 - Federal immigration authorities conducted the 1st round of invitations under Express Entry in 2017 and 51st overall, inviting 2902 candidates for permanent residence, a record number. The lowest CRS score was 468, a further decline from previous draws.
A new sponsorship form for those wishing to bring parents and grandparents to Canada is now available. Canadian citizens and permanent residents have until February 2, 2017 to submit an online, short form application after which 10,000 candidates will be drawn at random and invited to complete a full application.
From foreign travellers to dual citizens and even Canada's own border agents: It seems everyone could do with clear guidance on exactly who requires an electronic travel authorization (eTA). The holiday period saw frequent cases of people not being able to travel because they sought admission without an eTA.
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