Canada has announced the expansion of its electronic travel authorization (eTA) program, allowing travellers from 13 additional countries to benefit from visa-free air travel to the country.
Sean Fraser, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC), made the announcement, emphasizing the government’s commitment to improving immigration programs and services.
What is an eTA and how does it work?
An Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is a mandatory requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals travelling to Canada by air. It is an electronically linked document valid for up to five years or until the passport expires, simplifying the travel process and ensuring authorization to enter Canada.
Visa-Free Air Travel to 13 Additional Countries
Travellers from below newly added countries who have held a Canadian visa within the last ten years or who currently hold a valid United States non-immigrant visa can now apply for an eTA instead of a visa when flying to Canada. The programme is now available to eligible tourists from the following countries:
The newly included countries are;
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Costa Rica
- St. Kitts and Nevis
- St. Lucia
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago, and
We're adding 13 countries to the electronic travel authorization (eTA) program:— IRCC (@CitImmCanada) June 6, 2023
🇦🇬Antigua and Barbuda
🇰🇳St. Kitts & Nevis
🇻🇨St. Vincent and the Grenadines
🇹🇹Trinidad & Tobago
Benefits of Visa-Free Air Travel
The inclusion of 13 new countries in the eTA program offers numerous benefits to both travellers and Canada. Visitors can enjoy faster, easier, and more affordable travel to Canada for up to six months, whether for business or leisure purposes.
The decision is expected to promote travel, tourism, and international business while strengthening Canada’s relationships with the newly added countries.
Streamlining Visa Processes and Workload
The expansion of the eTA program will help divert thousands of applications from Canada’s visa caseload. This redirection allows immigration authorities to process visa applications more efficiently, benefiting all applicants.
By streamlining the entry process, the Canadian government aims to create a more streamlined and user-friendly visa system.
Eligibility and Application Process
Individuals who have held a Canadian visa in the past 10 years or possess a valid United States non-immigrant visa from the newly added countries can now apply for an eTA when travelling to Canada by air.
However, travellers who are ineligible for an eTA or those entering Canada by means other than air will still require a visitor visa. To determine eligibility and apply for an eTA, travellers can visit the official website Canada.ca/eTA.
Support and Outlook
The expansion of visa-free air travel has received support from various stakeholders. Commenting on the development, Minister Fraser stated
“This exciting development means that more individuals from around the world can now embark on unforgettable adventures, explore our diverse landscapes, reunite with family and friends, and immerse themselves in our vibrant culture without the hurdle of visa requirements. This expansion not only enhances convenience for travelers, it will also increase travel, tourism, and economic benefits, as well as strengthen global bonds with these 13 countries.”
Minister Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, emphasized the importance of expanding the eTA program to countries like the Philippines, highlighting the Indo-Pacific Strategy and the goal of strengthening ties in the region.
Additionally, the decision has been welcomed by Air Canada, one of Canada’s leading airlines, and the Vancouver Airport Authority, which recognizes the economic benefits and increased connectivity resulting from the policy change.
Canada’s expansion of the electronic travel authorization program to include 13 additional countries for visa-free air travel reflects the government’s commitment to improving immigration programs and services. The new policy aims to boost tourism, strengthen global ties, and streamline visa processes.