Visitors to Canada from countries whose citizens do not require a visa in order to enter Canada may still board their flight without an electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) until November 9, 2016. Previously, the government announced that the existing pre-clearance process — whereby visa-exempt visitors to Canada could board an aircraft without an eTA and be screened upon landing in Canada — would remain until September 29, 2016, when the leniency period would end.
However, on September 20, 2016, IRCC announced that the leniency period would be extended until November 9, 2016. As of November 10, most visa-exempt visitors to Canada must have completed the online eTA form and been approved before boarding a Canada-bound aircraft. According to the Canadian Minister of Immigration, John McCallum, the extension has been put in place to allow more time for raising awareness among travellers. The government of Canada first announced the eTA system in April, 2015, and the online form was made available later that year.
“In consultation with airline partners, we’re taking further steps to minimize any travel disruptions,” said McCallum. “We are extending the leniency period and doing another major information blitz in Canada and abroad to encourage affected travelers, including dual Canadian citizens, to plan ahead and get the necessary travel documents before they book a flight to Canada.”
The eTA is intended to make air travel to Canada safer and more efficient for foreign nationals who do not require a TRV to enter Canada. The screening process allows IRCC to assess visa-exempt travellers who may be inadmissible to Canada for reasons such as having a criminal record, or posing a potential health threat.
To obtain an eTA, individuals complete an online form for themselves and for each accompanying family member, if applicable. Families cannot obtain one eTA for all members, including minors.
The recent announcement from IRCC also extended the postponement of the requirement for Canadian dual citizens to travel with a Canadian passport if leaving and re-entering Canada. Previously, individuals who had Canadian citizenship as well as citizenship of another country could enter Canada with a passport from another country, even if citizens of that second country would normally require a TRV. As of November 10, however, all Canadian citizens will require a Canadian passport in order to board their flight to travel to Canada. (There is an exception for American-Canadian citizens, who may enter Canada with an American passport and do not require an eTA.)
The eTA process
To obtain an eTA, individuals complete an online form, in which they provide some personal information and answer a few basic questions relating to criminality or medical issues, as well as questions about their immigration history. Most applications are processed within minutes. Some applications may take longer to process, in which case individuals may expect to receive an email from IRCC within 72 hours outlining the next steps.
The eTA is linked electronically to the holder’s passport. It is valid for a period of five years from the day on which it is issued to the applicant or until the earliest of the following days, if they occur before the end of five years:
To complete the online form, applicants need:
The eTA includes the applicant’s name, date and place of birth, gender, address, nationality, and passport and/or travel document information. If the applicant is unable to make the application by means of the electronic system because of a physical or mental disability, it may be made by another means, including a paper application form.
Study and work permit holders from countries whose citizens do not require a TRV still may need an eTA. Since August 1, 2015, IRCC issues eTAs with new study and work permits to individuals who require an eTA, so there is no need for these individuals to apply separately or pay an additional fee. However, individuals who received their study or work permit before August 1, 2015, must obtain an eTA if they wish to leave Canada and return.
Exceptions to the rule
There are exceptions to the requirement for an eTA. In addition to the following list, citizens of countries whose citizens normally require a TRV in order to enter Canada, but who are permanent residents of the United States (holders of a Green Card), are able to enter Canada with an eTA rather than a TRV.
Foreign nationals from countries whose citizens require a TRV to enter Canada do not need an eTA in addition to the TRV.
How can future visitors to Canada determine what they need to do?
A new, easy-to-use tool has been developed by the team at CanadaVisa.com. The free and exclusive Visiting Canada Tool allows users to get information about the steps they need to take in order to make a smooth entry to Canada.
By answering a few basic questions about their country of citizenship, status in the United States (if applicable), and the intended method of transport that will be used to enter Canada, users are provided with a detailed explanation relating to their particular situation. Moreover, users are provided with additional resources, such as contact details for applicable legal services, on the page that explains the next steps. It takes less than one minute to complete the questionnaire.
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