Canada’s Immigration Minister, Sean Fraser, made a recent announcement regarding the expansion of a program that allows low-risk travellers from 13 additional countries to visit Canada without a visa. Instead, these travellers can apply for an electronic travel authorization (ETA), a digital travel document that costs $7 and can be processed quickly.
To be eligible for the ETA, travellers from these 13 countries must meet certain criteria. They either need to have held a Canadian visa within the past 10 years or currently possess a non-immigrant visa to the United States and be travelling by air.
The Immigration Minister claims that the expansion of the program not only simplifies the travel process for visitors to Canada but also helps alleviate the backlog of visa applications. Individuals who have recently undergone the screening process in Canada or the United States are expected to meet the requirements for the Canadian visa process.
The new electronic travel authorization is valid for five years or until the traveller’s passport expires, whichever comes first. Minister Fraser also expressed plans to further expand the program to include additional countries in the future.
What remains to be seen is whether or not applicants will also be able to apply for work permits at Ports of Entry. Based on the experience of Brazil, for which Canada also has this in place, we expect not.
The 13 countries included in the expanded list of qualifying countries are
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Costa Rica
- St. Kitts and Nevis
- St. Lucia
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago