Posted on - Oct 27, 2016

By Victor Ing

Victor Ing

Canada’s Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) requirements will be in full force as of November 10, 2016.

The eTA program is an online pre-screening requirement that was initially announced in 2015. This requirement makes it mandatory for travelers who are visa-exempt to Canada to make an online application through Canada’s eTA system before they will be allowed to board a flight bound for Canada. Affected travelers will include those from Australia, Japan, Korea, Spain, France and the UK, among others. Once issued, an eTA will be valid for a period of five years.

The new eTA requirement was to be implemented from March, 2016 onward. However, the Canadian government struggled with the launch of the program and, accordingly, decided to grant a grace period before fully enforcing the new requirement. The grace period will end on November 10, 2016.

In addition to technical issues with the online platform, one of the major challenges the Canadian government faced was informing the public about eTA requirements. There has been a general lack of awareness about this new eTA requirement, which affects a significant number of visitors to Canada who have traditionally not had to obtain any immigration approval to travel to Canada.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) declares on its website that most eTA applications will be processed within minutes of submission. However, IRCC also recommends that you do not leave an application to the last minute before your trip to Canada.

There are several factors that could delay or negatively affect the approval of your eTA. When completing the online application for an eTA, you will be asked personal questions, including whether you have ever been refused entry to Canada and whether you have any criminal history. There is no absolute right of admission to Canada. Your entry to Canada can be refused due to prior criminal convictions or even charges and concerns about whether you will return to your country of origin after visiting Canada.

Furthermore, it is important to note who should NOT be applying for eTAs. If you are a dual citizen of Canada you should be prepared to present your Canadian passport to board your flight to Canada. You should not be applying for an eTA to travel. Moreover, Canadian permanent residents should not be applying for eTAs. One common misconception about permanent resident status is that you lose it when your Canadian Permanent Resident (PR) Card expires. This is not true – a valid PR Card only proves that you have permanent resident status.

As a Vancouver immigration lawyer, I often speak to people who obtained permanent residence but failed to meet their residency obligation and never apply to renew their expired PR cards. They later return to their country of origin and assume that they have lost their permanent resident status. In many cases, these people still hold permanent resident status, which could prevent them from successfully applying for an eTA.

Canada’s new eTA program will take effect on November 10, 2016. If you have ever been refused entry to Canada, have any criminal history, including DUIs, or have doubts about your permanent resident status in Canada, these are factors that can delay your eTA application, and you may find it valuable to speak to an immigration representative to assist you with your travels to Canada.


Victor Ing is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada, and provides a full range of immigration services.

To learn more about immigrating to Canada, becoming a permanent Canadian resident or bringing your family to Canada, email Victor Ing or call him at 1-604-689-5444.

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