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In an effort to enhance its immigration programs and services, Canada has expanded its electronic travel authorization (eTA) program, allowing citizens from 13 more countries to qualify for visa-free travel to the country. This update aims to make travel to Canada more efficient and accessible for individuals around the world. The announcement was made by the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, who highlighted the benefits of this expansion for both travelers and Canada’s economy.

In April 2017, Canada initially expanded the eTA program to include eligible citizens of Brazil, Bulgaria, and Romania. Subsequently, Canada lifted the visa requirement for all citizens of Bulgaria and Romania, while eligible Brazilian nationals continue to enjoy visa-free air travel to Canada.

These 13 Countries Are Now Quality for Visa-Free Entry to Canada

Effective immediately, citizens of the following 13 countries can apply for an eTA instead of a visa when traveling to Canada by air:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Costa Rica
  • Morocco
  • Panama
  • Philippines
  • St. Kitts and Nevis
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Seychelles
  • Thailand
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Uruguay

Simplified Travel Experience

By introducing visa-free air travel, Canada aims to streamline the process for thousands of travelers, enabling them to visit the country for up to six months, whether for business or leisure purposes.

This initiative not only facilitates travel, tourism, and international business but also strengthens Canada’s relationships with these 13 countries. Furthermore, it will alleviate the burden on Canada’s visa caseload, resulting in more efficient processing of visa applications.

Within the next year, Canada anticipates a 20% increase in visitors from these countries, amounting to approximately 200,000 additional travelers. Over the next decade, the heightened travel from these nations is expected to generate nearly $160 million in additional revenue for Canada’s tourism sector.

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Basic Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for an eTA instead of a visa, travelers must meet one of the following requirements:

  1. Previous Canadian Visa: Individuals who have held a valid Canadian visa within the past 10 years are now eligible for an eTA. This provision recognizes the prior travel history of individuals and their familiarity with Canada’s immigration processes.
  2. Valid United States Non-Immigrant Visa: Those currently holding a valid non-immigrant visa issued by the United States can now apply for an eTA. This provision acknowledges the close relationship between Canada and the United States and aims to facilitate seamless travel for individuals already approved for entry into the United States.

Continued Validity of Existing Visas

Travelers who already possess a valid visa for Canada can continue to use it for their visits. However, citizens from the newly eligible countries, who do not qualify for an eTA or plan to enter Canada by means other than air (e.g., by car, bus, train, boat, including cruise ships), will still need to obtain a visitor visa.

How to Apply for an eTA?

To determine eligibility for an eTA and apply for it, interested travelers can visit the official Government of Canada website at Canada.ca/eTA. The eTA application fee is $7 CAD, making it an affordable option for those who meet the requirements.

Benefits of eTA over Visa

By introducing the eTA program for eligible travelers, Canada aims to enhance the visitor experience and foster stronger ties with countries worldwide. Some key advantages of obtaining an eTA instead of a visa include:

Speed and Efficiency: The eTA application process is designed to be streamlined and efficient, allowing travelers to receive their authorization quickly. This eliminates the need for lengthy visa applications and reduces processing times, enabling travelers to plan their trips with ease.

Cost-Effective Option: Applying for an eTA is a cost-effective alternative to a traditional visa. The eTA application fee is only $7 CAD, making it an affordable choice for eligible visitors. This cost reduction contributes to making travel to Canada more accessible for a wider range of individuals.

Business and Leisure Flexibility: The eTA allows travelers to visit Canada for up to six months, providing ample time for both business-related activities and leisurely exploration. Whether attending conferences, meetings, or visiting family and friends, the eTA simplifies the travel process for various purposes.

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Need help?

Navigating the immigration process can be complex, and individuals who are not eligible for an eTA or plan to travel to Canada by means other than air may still require a visitor visa. For those seeking professional guidance and support with their visa application, ELAAR Immigration is available to provide comprehensive assistance.

ELAAR Immigration, a leading immigration consultancy, offers a team of experienced professionals well-versed in Canadian immigration policies and procedures. Please feel free to contact us for a consultation and let us help you with your immigration needs.

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