As of March 15, 2016, most visa-exempt foreign nationals who “fly” into Canada are required to have an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA). In other words, eTA is required if you are a foreign national who:
- May enter into Canada without applying for an entry visa prior to entering into Canada;
- Fly directly into Canada;
- Is not exempt, such as US citizens.
If you require have an eTA, you must apply through an online processing system – by clicking on the “Apply for an eTA” button, PRIOR to flying into Canada. The eTA will be issued within 72 hours (3 days) – no need for a long processing time – with $7.00 as an application fee. You must answer all answers truthfully and accurately, to avoid any misrepresentation to CIC. After issuance, your eTA is electronically linked to your passport (no physical paperwork) AND is valid for 5 years or until the expiry of your passport, whichever comes first. If you are not sure if you need eTA, please check here first by inputting your citizenship.
CIC made a comment in the past that citizens from Brazil, Bulgaria, Mexico and Romani may be eligible to apply for an eTA when travelling to Canada by air without applying for a visitor’s visa, ONLY IF they have had a Canadian visa in the past 10 years or a valid US non-immigration visa (tourist visa for example). However, it is not confirmed whether this will in fact be effective or reality until CIC makes it official.
If you cannot obtain your eTA after applying online, then that means that CIC finds you with some reason not to allow you to enter into Canada. In such case, you must seek proper legal advice to overcome your issues. In fact, if you have anything in your past that may trigger this event (i.e. any fingerprinted events, such as arrest or charge), we recommend you to seek legal advice BEFORE applying for eTA.
If you have obtained your work permit as visa-exempted foreigner prior to August 1st, 2015, you must obtain eTA before March 15th, 2016. If your passport gets updated or replaced (for loss or stolen) AFTER you get your eTA, you must file another eTA to connect eTA to a new passport. We recommend you file eTA in advance to plan your trip to Canada because it is much easier to deal with when you have time to prepare, if something goes wrong.
A couple of cautions!
Just because you got eTA, it does not mean that you will enter into Canada successfully. You still have to go through custom process and officers at Canadian Border Services Agency may refuse your entry upon discovering any issues to lead you be inadmissible to Canada.
If you are a visa-exempt foreigner who gets a permanent resident status, you may still require to have eTA until you have a PR card to be able to travel!
If you have any questions or concerns, please seek professional assistance before taking any actions that may lead to more complications or cost!