Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) is expected to implement regulations that will require foreign nationals who do not otherwise require a visa to be pre-screened for admissibility concerns prior to travel to Canada. This new Electronic Travel Authorization (“eTA”) program will mirror the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (“ESTA”) already in place in the United States. The program enforcement date will be March 15, 2016; however, eligible travelers may obtain an eTA as early as August 1, 2015.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) is expected to implement regulations that will require foreign nationals who do not otherwise require a visa to be pre-screened for admissibility concerns prior to travel to Canada.1 This new Electronic Travel Authorization (“eTA”) program will mirror the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (“ESTA”) already in place in the United States. The program enforcement date will be March 15, 2016; however, eligible travelers may obtain an eTA as early as August 1, 2015.
In practice, almost all visa-exempt foreign nationals will be required to apply for the eTA prior to travelling to Canada. As such, employers should encourage foreign workers to plan ahead and obtain the eTA as soon as possible. As the eTA may be valid for up to five years, it may be beneficial to obtain the eTA at the earliest opportunity. Visa exempt foreign nationals applying at a visa office abroad will be able to benefit from the automatic issuance of the eTA.
This new eTA system will assist CIC to more efficiently and quickly assess individuals’ admissibility into Canada.
The aim of the eTA is to allow CIC to identify individuals with admissibility concerns prior to their arrival at a Canadian port of entry. Under the current system, visa-exempt foreign nationals are not examined for admissibility until they arrive at the border. The eTA program will allow CIC to assess admissibility before a foreign national appears at a Canadian port of entry.
The program will also provide CIC with the ability to cancel a previously approved eTA, if it is discovered at a later date that the individual is inadmissible.
Similar to the ESTA program in the U.S., the eTA confirmation will be issued electronically; and in the majority of cases, it is expected to be approved within minutes. Cases that are submitted for further review will be subject to a service standard of 72 hours. During this time CIC must provide an approval, refusal, request for additional information, or advise the foreign national that his or her application has been sent for additional screening. Applicants will apply via an online system and will pay a $7.00 processing fee per applicant, which is meant to help recover the cost of the eTA system.
The eTA will be valid for the lesser of five years from the day on which it is issued, or until the applicant’s passport or travel document expires. If a foreign national obtains a new passport, a new eTA will be required before traveling to Canada.
The eTA program will only apply to individuals who can enter Canada without a visa, who are arriving by air. It is not required when entering at a land border or by sea. Please note that U.S. nationals and applicants from St. Pierre and Miquelon will be exempt.
Starting on March 15, 2016, visa-exempt work and study permit holders who are already in Canada will be required to obtain an eTA if they leave Canada and re-enter by air. Future applications for work permits and study permits will automatically be issued with an eTA as part of the study or work permit application at no additional charge
As noted above, visa-exempt foreign nationals who apply at visa offices abroad will be able to benefit from the automatic issuance of the eTA.
It is anticipated that the amendments will also include a lifting of the visa requirement for citizens of Brazil, Bulgaria, Mexico, Romania, Lithuania, and Poland; as a result, citizens of these countries will also require eTAs.
Minimal information has been released with respect to the system and process to be created to implement these changes. KPMG Law LLP will continue to monitor the changes and provide our clients and our GMS Flash Alert readers with detailed information when it becomes available.
1 See SOR/2015-77 April 1, 2015, Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations: http://www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p2/2015/2015-04-22/html/sor-dors77-eng.php.
This article was originally published in “Implementing Electronic Authorization” in KPMG Law’s Tax + Immigration e-Alert (2015/04), a publication of KPMG Law LLP, Canada, a KPMG International member firm in Canada. It is republished here with permission.
For assistance with immigration-related matters pertaining to Canada, please contact your local qualified immigration counsel, or the following immigration professional with the KPMG International member firm in Canada:
Howard Greenberg, Partner-Immigration, KPMG Law, Canada
Tel.: +1-416-943-0288 x224
KPMG LLP (U.S.) does not provide any immigration services.
The information contained in this newsletter was submitted by KPMG Law LLP in Canada.
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