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Canada Expands Visa-Free Travel

On June 6, 2023, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Sean Fraser announced an expansion to the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) program – only its second expansion since it was first introduced in 2015. The new expansion will allow those who meet the requirements to apply for an eTA instead of a visa, in a quicker, streamlined process.

What is the eTA?

First introduced in August of 2015, the eTA is a digital travel document that most visa-exempt travellers are required to have in order to travel to or transit through Canada by air. The program was introduced to make visa-free air travel faster, easier, and more affordable for the thousands of travellers visiting Canada.

With a valid eTA, individuals can travel to Canada as often as they’d like for short stays (typically, this will be for up to 6 months, or 180 days, at a time). The eTA is electronically linked to a traveller’s passport and is valid for up to 5 years. The eTA has a fee of $7 (CAD), with an approval eta of a few minutes, with some applications taking several days to process if authorities require additional information or documents.

The  Expansion

So, who does this new expansion benefit? An additional 13 countries have now been added to the list of visa-exempt travellers. Effective June 6th, travellers from the following countries will be eligible to apply for an eTA, instead of a visa:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Costa Rica
  • Morocco
  • Panama
  • Philippines
  • Kitts and Nevis
  • Lucia
  • Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Seychelles
  • Thailand
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Uruguay

 

Am I eligible?

This new expansion will apply to travellers from any of the above 13 countries who have either:

  • Held a Canadian visa in the last 10 years; OR
  • Currently hold a valid United States non-immigrant visa.

Foreign nationals from the above-listed countries will be able to apply online for an eTA, prior to flying or transitioning through Canada, as long as they hold a valid passport.This new streamlined process is intended to ease the caseload for Immigration officers, decrease application processing times, and increase visitors from these 13 countries.

These new measures will not only enhance business and investment opportunities for foreign nationals, but also facilitate easier travel for you to explore Canada from coast to coast. It’s important to note that if you are a visa-exempt (or eTA eligible) traveller, you do not require an eTA if you are entering Canada by land or sea.

Those not eligible for an eTA will still need a visitor visa.

Stay tuned for the latest on this and other news from the MPC immigration team as we closely monitor updates and for any other significant changes in US and Canadian immigration!

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