Over the past couple of years, the Canadian government and the United States have been working on a reciprocity project to accept visa and immigration information from each other. What that means is that a U.S. citizen would be able to travel by air across the border to Canada with just a passport or visa that proves their citizenship and Canadian citizens will be able to travel to the United States in the same manner. Caribbean nationals or nationals from other countries who fly into Canada will have to show an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) beginning March 15. That means that if you are currently living in the United States and you have a green card, you will have to obtain an eTA if you would like to visit Canada by air.
The application which became available last August, costs $12 U.S.($7 Canadian) and must be submitted online.
The eTA is a new entry requirement for “visa-exempt foreign nationals” traveling to Canada by air. It will allow Canada to do early screening online before you arrive at the airport. Last-minute applications can be made from any device connected to the Internet, including mobile phones. Most applicants who do not have a criminal record will get an email response indicating whether or not they are approved or denied within minutes of their application. Applicants who do have a criminal background or any red flags showing that there is a problem will experience a longer wait time to get a response.
When applying for an eTA, travelers will be able to log onto the website of the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and apply for an eTA by submitting required personal information such as name and date of birth and if requested provide a copy of your fingerprints. Due to privacy legislation, applicants will need to complete their own authorization requests, and parents and guardians are required to complete the application process for any traveling children or infants. After a quick electronic background check is completed, authorization to travel will then be generated via the site and the traveler will have to print this out and submit to the appropriate officials together with other travel documents prior to leaving their country for Canada.
“You know, I have lived here in the United States and I cannot understand why I can’t be treated like the naturalized citizens,” said Winsome, one of our close friends. “Why do I have to go through a whole different process?”
Once you are approved, the authorization is electronically linked to your passport and is valid for five years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. Travelers who arrive at the Canadian border by car or land transportation will not be required to obtain an eTA.
The Canadian government said the move was due to its “limited capacity to identify and screen foreign nationals who do not require a temporary resident visa to travel to Canada.” Only holders of diplomatic and official passports and students with a valid student visa will be exempt.
Individuals seeking a work or study permit would be required to file an eTA application and a separate work or study application would not be required. Visitors who arrive with an eTA will still have be interviewed by Canada Border Service Agency officials, who will determine eligibility for entry to the country.
The Canadian government feels that the eTA system will expedite the travel of eligible individuals to Canada. People who are inadmissible, such as those with criminal records or those with no-fly orders, can be identified more effectively through the eTA system, and their admission into the country can be prevented more easily. This new procedure will limit the manpower and funds needed to send back these individuals to their home countries and save the government lots of money.
When the eTA is no longer valid or your passport has expired (whichever comes first), you will need to renew your eTA. If you plan to stay in Canada for more than a year, you must renew by applying for a re-entry permit, Form I-131.
Per the official Canadian website, “if you travel before March 15, you do not need an eTA but you can still apply for one. For now, make sure you travel with acceptable travel documents and identification, such as a valid passport.”
在旅游界及人权组织呼吁下，联邦移民、难民及公民入籍部（CIC）放宽原订本月15日实施的免签证访加旅客须持电子旅行证（Electronic Travel Authorization，简称eTA）规定，暂不会被严格执行！即来自免签国家的人士若无eTA，今年秋季前仍可入境加拿大。但CIC解释，容许半年宽限期，主要为平稳过渡。
据CIC发言人圣约翰（Faith St. John）周五接受记者访问时表示：＂本月15日起，eTA仍将强制实施，并未被推迟。不过，从3月15日，直到今年秋天，没有eTA的旅客仍可登机，只要他们有适当的旅行文件，如有效护照等。在此期间，加拿大边境服务处（CBSA）职员仍会让没有eTA的旅客入境，只要符合其他入境规定。＂圣约翰指出，CIC给予宽限期，是为确保eTA顺利过渡，允许一个过渡期。