Canada”s newly created Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) program was to have been mandatory as of 15th March 2016. However, the Government of Canada decided to create a leniency period after numerous complaints were received from the travel and tourism industry. Industry leaders complained that the government had not created sufficient awareness of the program and they worried that thousands of travellers would be caught off guard by the new requirement. The Canadian government relented and allowed a leniency period that will expire on 29th September 2016.
The Canadian eTA program is an initiative that arose from the Beyond the Border Declaration that was signed by Prime Minister Harper and President Obama in 2011. The eTA is similar to the US ESTA in that it requires visa exempt travellers to obtain an authorisation prior to travelling to Canada. The eTA is not required for people who arrive at Canadian seaports or land border crossings, but will be enforced at Canadian airports. American citizens are exempt from the eTA but holders of US Green Cards are required to have an eTA.
Applications for the eTA cost $7 and are made through an online system. Approvals are issued very quickly in most cases. Applicants who have criminal and medical concerns or who have previously been in violation of Canadian immigration legislation are normally required to submit additional information for review. Their cases can take two weeks or longer to process.
Visa exempt foreign nationals who are in Canada as students or workers are also required to obtain an eTA if their study or work permit was issued before 31st July 2015.
Anyone travelling to Canada should ensure that they obtain proper approvals from the Canadian government well in advance of their trip. Newland Chase provides consultation services with respect to Canadian entry requirements and can act as authorised representatives for eTA and visitor visa applications.
UPDATE: Please note that, since this article was published, the leniency period has been further extended to 9th November 2016.
For further information on this topic, or for advice on Canadian immigration in general, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.