Canada and the United States have decided to implement a new program to have a common approach to screening visa-exempt foreign nationals before they arrive to North America. This program will be part of the Canada-United States Premier Security and Economic Competitiveness Action Plan. These changes would have individuals flying into Canada be screened in advance with the goal of reducing the number of foreign nationals who do not meet the requirements or who are inadmissible to travel to Canada.
The application process would be done online through the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website. Applicants will be asked to provide information similar to that given at ports of entry by immigration officers or when applying for a temporary resident visa. Should an application be not automatically approved by the system, it will be looked at by an immigration officer for further evaluation. An approved eTa will be valid for a five year period. However, immigration officers have the power to suspend and/or cancel an eTa at their discretion.
There are individuals who will be exempted from the electronic travel authorization (eTA) program. United States citizens traveling to Canada will be exempted, as Canadian citizens are also exempt for the American equivalent of the program. In addition, the following foreign nationals will be exempt;
- Holders of diplomatic passports, as well as consular officers, representatives or officials of a foreign country, or of any international organization of which Canada is a member;
- Holders of passports or travel documents issued by the Holy See;
- Holders of national Israeli passports;
- Holders of passports issued by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China;
- Holders of passports issued by the United Kingdom to a British National (Overseas), as a person born, naturalized or registered in Hong Kong;
- Holders of passports issued by the United Kingdom to a British Subject which contains the observation that the holder has the right of abode in the United Kingdom;
- Holders of ordinary passports issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taiwan that includes the personal identification number of the individual; and
- Citizens of Lithuania or Poland if they hold machine readable passports that contain a contactless integrated circuit chip and that is issued by Lithuania or Poland.
The following individuals may be subject to the eTa requirements:
- Citizens of current visa-exempt countries listed in Subsection 190(1) of the Regulations, other than citizens of the United States, and foreign nationals travelling with passports listed under Subsections 190(2) and (2.1); and
- Air crew members;
- Foreign nationals transiting through Canada under the Transit Without Visa Program or China Transit Program; and
- Foreign nationals re-entering Canada after a visit solely to the United States or Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, provided that the requirements of Paragraph 190(3)(f) are met.
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