Posts Tagged ‘electronic travel authorization’

Canada Lifts Temporary Resident Visa Requirements for Citizens of Mexico

Henry Chang | December 11, 2016 in Canadian Immigration | Comments (0)

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As I previously reported, on June 28, 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau formally announced that the Temporary Resident Visa (“TRV”) requirement for citizens of Mexico travelling to Canada would be eliminated as of December 1, 2016.  Mexican citizens may now enter Canada without first obtaining a TRV from a Canadian embassy or consulate.

This new visa exemption reverses the Government of Canada’s prior decision to impose TRV requirements on Mexican citizens, which became effective on July 14, 2009.  At the time, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (now known as Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada) indicated that Mexican refugee cases had almost tripled since 2005, making it the number one source country for refugee claims. In 2008, more than 9,400 claims filed in Canada came from Mexican nationals, representing 25% of all claims received.  Of the Mexican claims reviewed and finalized in 2008 by the Immigration and Refugee Board, an independent administrative tribunal, only 11% were accepted.

Some critics have alleged that Canada will experience a significant increase in Mexican refugee claims now that the TRV requirement has been lifted.  Although some increase in such claims is likely to occur, it may not be as significant as they believe.  This is because Mexican citizens (in fact, all foreign nationals except United States citizens) who wish to enter Canada as temporary residents must now obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (“eTA”) prior to travelling to Canada by air; this requirement has been in effect since November 9, 2016.

Foreign nationals who apply for an eTA online are required to answer many of the same questions that would be asked in a TRV application; this is intended to prevent high risk applicants from entering Canada without a visa.  For example, foreign nationals who have insufficient ties to their home country, who have violated their status in Canada (or any other country), or who have criminal records are unlikely to receive an eTA.  Foreign nationals who cannot obtain an eTA will not be allowed to board their flight to Canada.

Although the eTA requirement applies only to travel by air, it is generally not possible to make a refugee claim at a land port of entry.  This is because, according to the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, which became effective on December 29, 2004, most refugee claimants are required to request refugee protection in the first safe country in which they arrive.  Therefore, a Mexican citizen who initially enters the United States will not be permitted to make a Canadian refugee claim at the Canada-U.S. border.

Hopefully, the new visa exemption for citizens of Mexico will facilitate legitimate travel to Canada without causing a significant increase in frivolous refugee claims.  However, due to both the eTA requirement and the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, it appears likely that this will occur.

Canada Implements Leniency Period for Electronic Travel Authorization until Fall 2016

Henry Chang | March 13, 2016 in Canadian Immigration | Comments (0)

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As previously mentioned, on April 1, 2015, Citizenship and Immigration Canada published regulations implementing its Electronic Travel Authorization (“eTA”) program.  The eTA program was modeled after the U.S. Electronic System for Travel Authorization, which is a mandatory registration required for foreign travelers who wish to enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.  Once implemented, it will require most visa-exempt foreign nationals who travel to Canada without a temporary resident visa (“TRV”) to obtain an eTA.

Under the eTA program, applicants will pay a $7.00 CAD processing fee electronically in connection with their online eTA application.  Once issued, an eTA will be valid for five years from the day on which it is issued or until the applicant’s passport or travel document expires, whichever comes first.  The regulations also provide an officer with the ability to cancel an eTA that was issued to a foreign national if the officer determines that the foreign national is inadmissible or if the foreign national becomes subject to a declaration made by the Minister under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

The regulations initially required eTAs to be mandatory as of March 15, 2016.  Fortunately, the new Liberal Government has decided to delay the enforcement of the eTA requirement until Fall 2016 (no exact date end date has been announced) by implementing a “leniency period.”

During the leniency period, visa-exempt foreign nationals who do not have an eTA will still be permitted to enter Canada as long as they have appropriate travel documents, such as a valid passport.  Nevertheless, visa-exempt foreign nationals are encouraged to obtain an eTA as soon as possible.

Of course, even after the leniency period has ended, not everyone will require an eTA.  For example, United States citizens are exempt from the eTA requirement.  Also, as the eTA requirement is intended to apply to visa-exempt applicants, a foreign national who already holds a TRV is also not required to obtain an eTA.  In addition, in order to reduce the duplication of information to be provided by visa-exempt foreign nationals, if a visa-exempt applicant applies for a work permit or study permit, they will not need to also obtain an eTA.  A complete list of eTA exemptions appears in my previous article.