Questions About the Electronic Travel Authorization Initiative

Since my blog post on Friday I’ve received several questions about the Electronic Travel Authorization initiative revealed in the second 2012 Budget Implementation Act.

The most common question was how much it will cost a person to apply to the program.

The Government of Canada has not yet announced how much it will charge applicants to the program.  In the United States, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization costs $14.00, and is valid for 2 years. (Only $4.00 goes to the cost of administering the program.  The remaining $10.00 goes to tourism promotion.)  In Australia, applicants can choose to pay AUD 20.00 for a 12 month authorization, or AUD 105.00 for a long term authorization valid for the duration of an applicant’s passport.  These comparisons obviously don’t reveal how much Canada will charge, however, they provide an indication of what the “norm” for these types of programs are.

Another question was why applicants will have to go to the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization when the airlines through which they booked their flights to Canada already collect this information.

I don’t know the answer to this question, but I would suspect that it because the airlines do not want to hold seats while Citizenship and Immigration Canada determines whether someone is admissible to Canada.  The Electronic Travel Authorization can simply be part of the price of an airline ticket because of the complications involving flight refunds if authorization is refused.

The final, and in my opinion the most significant question, was whether the Electronic Travel Authorization programs means that Port of Entry Temporary Resident Permit (“TRP”) applications will become obsolete.  Currently, an individual who is inadmissible to Canada can board an air-plane and apply for an urgent TRP to enter Canada when the individual appears before the Canada Border Services Agency.  This will no longer be possible if people are prevented from boarding the plane.

Presumably, people who would have been admitted to Canada under a TRP at the Port of Entry will now have to apply for such permits at Canadian missions abroad.  Processing times for such applications are already lengthy, and unless Citizenship and Immigration Canada increases resources abroad, are going to increase dramatically.

I’m not sure how the Government of Canada plans on addressing this, but it is imperative that they do so that straight forward TRP applications which would have been made at the Port of Entry (a process which was encouraged under the Tourism Facilitation Action Plan) do not clog the system, causing unnecessary personal and economic hardship.


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