Canada’s New Electronic Travel Authorization Program Launches August 1, 2015: Affected Foreign Nationals Require an eTA to Enter Canada as of March 15, 2016
Back in February 2015, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced an incoming Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) program that mirrors the existing US Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). The eTA program is part of a joint US-Canada border action plan to increase pre-screening of travelers and to better identify potential threats. CIC is opening up its eTA application system online on August 1, 2015, but affected foreign nationals will not require an eTA to enter Canada until March 15, 2016.
Canada’s eTA program will require Canadian-bound travelers from countries whose citizens do not require visas to obtain an eTA before they can enter the country by air. This includes US permanent residents. US citizens and visa-exempt foreign nationals traveling by land or sea will not need an eTA to enter the country. Affected foreign nationals already in Canada as workers, students or visitors will also need to get an eTA if they plan to leave Canada and return on or after March 15, 2016. However, CIC is automatically issuing eTAs to foreign nationals who apply for a study or work permit from inside Canada, and are approved, starting on August 1, 2015.
CIC is launching the application process early, on August 1, 2015, to give foreign nationals a head start before the rush once the eTA is required on March 15, 2016. Most applications will be processed within minutes online and can be valid for up to five years at a time (or until the applicant’s passport expires, whichever comes first), so it is a good idea to apply early if your passport is valid for several years.
Canadian citizens, permanent residents and temporary residents are also encouraged to let any friends and family know about the new requirements in case they are planning a visit to Canada.
Dale & Lessmann LLP invites you to contact our experienced Immigration Practice Group if you have questions about the upcoming implementation of the eTA system, whether you or your employees will require eTAs before entering or re-entering Canada and if you require assistance with the new process.