On August 1, 2015, the Government of Canada launched the Electronic Travel Authorization (“eTA”) program. The program is similar to the United States of America’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization. Implementation of the eTA program will allow Canada to pre-screen eTA-required travellers to ensure that they are admissible to Canada.
As of March 15, 2016, most foreign nationals who are exempt from the requirement to obtain a Temporary Resident Visa (“TRV“) to enter Canada will be required to obtain an eTA before they travel to Canada by air. A list of countries and territories whose citizens will need an eTA to travel to Canada can be found here. As such, it will no longer be the case that residents of these countries can simply purchase tickets and board planes to travel to Canada. Rather, an individual will be unable to board a commercial airline to Canada unless the airline first confirms that the individual possesses an eTA through the Canada Border Services Agency’s new Interactive Advance Passenger Information system.
Americans are exempted from the requirement to obtain an eTA.
The eTA is an online application on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC“) website. Applicants will need to provide their passport details, personal details, contact information, and answer background questions regarding their health, criminal history, and travel history. CIC anticipates that it will automatically process most eTA applications within minutes. When an eTA application cannot be automatically approved, it will be referred to a CIC officer for a manual review. Officers can request additional documents, and, where required, further the application to a Canadian visa office abroad for further processing, including a possible interview.
The eTA will be valid for five years or until the applicant’s passport expires, whichever occurs sooner. The cost to apply is $7.00.
The process can be summarized in this internal CIC chart below, obtained through an Access to Information request.