[The following is a slightly edited (to include links) version of an article that I wrote for The Canadian Immigrant.]
In February 2011, Canada and the United States agreed to the Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competiveness. More commonly known as the Beyond the Border Action Plan, the effect of the agreement was to strengthen co-operation and, in some cases, harmonize Canadian and American immigration practices.
The Government of Canada has begun enthusiastically implementing the terms of the Beyond the Border Action Plan, and will in 2014-2015 introduce three significant changes to Canadian immigration legislation that will impact almost everyone who enters Canada.
People who wish to visit Canada generally fall into one of two categories: those who need to apply for and obtain temporary resident visas prior to arriving in Canada; and those who can arrive at Canadian ports of entry without first obtaining a visa. This will change in April 2015, when Canada implements the electronic travel authorization (“eTA”) system.
All foreign nationals who are exempt from the requirement to obtain a temporary resident visa will instead need to obtain online authorization before they fly to Canada. This includes Europeans, Australians, Japanese, Koreans, etc. Citizens from the United States, however, are exempt.
The eTA application process will be online via the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website. Applicants will be required to enter biographic, passport and background information, which may affect admissibility to Canada. An electronic system will then perform an examination that includes a risk assessment and a verification of the information provided in the application against enforcement databases. The Government of Canada expects that the majority of applications will be approved within minutes.Read more ›