What is an Electronic Travel Authorization for Canada?
The ETA is a new means for the citizens of visa exempt countries to travel to Canada without requiring a regular visa of any kind. It denotes Electronic Travel Authorization. The ETA which is linked to the passports of the citizens of those countries let them travel to Canada under certain conditions.
With an ETA, the citizens of visa exempt countries can travel to Canada minus any visa and stay up to a period of 6 months at a stretch. An ETA has a 5-year validity within which an eligible person can travel many times to Canada. In order to submit an ETA request, a person needs to have a valid passport. It applies to both genders and kids.
Why the Canadian government introduces the ETA?
The ETA, introduced much like ESTA of the USA, enables the Canadian government to screen and assess the citizens of specific countries for traveling to Canada. This effectively reduces the load on the immigration department as they do not have to check Visa for those foreign nationals. Since ETA is issued electronically, each time an ETA holder travels to Canada, his/her eligibility is checked much before he/she actually travels to Canada. It helps the Canadian government assess and monitor security and health-related threats from citizens of those nations. This will help the government to deal with a huge number of visa-exempt foreign citizens traveling to Canada for a short term- in a better and streamlined way.
From when the ETA was made effective?
The Canadian government made ETA effective from August 1, 2015.
Which countries are eligible for Canada ETA?
As of now, there are 55 countries covered under the Canada visa exempt program. These include countries like Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, New Zealand, some British overseas territories, etc.
What are the criteria to apply for Canada ETA?
To apply for the Canada ETA and qualify for it, the applicants need to meet the below-listed criteria:
- He/she should be from one of the 55 Visa exempt countries.
- The applicant will stay for less than 180 days for purposes like business or tourism.
- He/she must possess a valid passport.
- The applicant should be devoid of any immigration violations and criminal convictions.
- The applicant must be in good health.
Does the Canada ETA guarantee entry to Canada?
Even after getting approval for the Canada ETA application, an eligible candidate may not be allowed to enter Canada. Even with a valid passport and approved ETA, such a candidate has to undergo the mandatory immigration check at the airport in Canada. The immigration officials have to be convinced that the applicant has come to Canada for a valid purpose and after a specific duration will return to his/her own country. The officials will also have to be assured about the authenticity of the documents of such applicants.
Who does not need an ETA to enter Canada?
There are certain conditions under which foreign nationals may not need to use ETA to get entry to Canada.
- The foreign nationals entering Canada through land routes and border shared with the USA do not need an ETA.
- The foreign nationals entering Canada through the ports through cruise ships, do not need an ETA.
- The citizens of the USA do not need ETA to enter Canada.
- The citizens of countries not covered by the Canada visa exempt program cannot opt for the ETA; they will require visas.
- Individuals possessing Canadian temporary resident visa do not need ETA to enter Canada.
- People with visa of another country and flying through that destination, transiting through Canada do not need ETA.
- The commercial aircrews are exempted from using the ETA.
- The US nationals do not require the ETA.
- Certain foreign diplomats may also be exempted from using the ETA.
- Any Royal family member does not require the ETA.
- The Canadian visa holders, Canadian permanent residents, also do not need to opt for ETA.
How to apply for the Canada ETA?
Much like the ESTA of the USA, the Canada ETA application process is online. This takes a few minutes to complete. The citizens of visa exempt countries need to fill up the ETA application form and pay the required fee online. The approval for ETA is sent through email, and that comes within a few minutes in most cases. In some cases, the response may be a little delayed. The applicants sometimes may be asked to submit additional documents.
To complete the online ETA application, a candidate needs a valid passport, an email address along with a credit or debit card. Of course, the applicant needs to fill up the online form using correct information. The information entered in the ETA application form must match with the data in his/her passport.
How long the Canada ETA remains valid?
Once approved, an ETA remains valid for 5 years from the date of issuance. However, it is linked with the applicant’s passport. If the passport validity expires within that period- the validity of the ETA also comes to an end. In that case, renewing the passport and applying for a fresh ETA will be necessary.
Can I renew an existing ETA?
As of now, there is no option for Visa exempt country citizens to renew existing ETAs. Once the duration of existing ETA lapses, the applicant has to apply for a fresh Canada ETA online.
If a visa exempt country citizen travels with a kid, will the kid require an ETA?
The ETA is mandatory for the citizens of countries covered by the Canada visa waiver program- regardless of their age and gender. The parents of such a kid will have to file an application for an ETA separately using its passport data. The kid may, however, travel using the passport of the parents to Canada.
On what grounds, an ETA may be declined?
For most of the visa exempt country citizens, the application for a Canada ETA is approved within a few minutes. However, in some rare cases, a few applicants may see their ETA application being declined. The reasons can be numerous for denial of the application, including medical issues or past criminal record. However, those applicants can still opt for regular Canada visa by following the regular visa application process.
The ETA application can also be declined if there is any discrepancy of data between the passport of the applicant and the information entered in the ETA online form. This may happen if his/her passport data such as address have changed after the issuance of passport. The applicants should be careful when they fill up the online ETA form and ensure the data in passport matches with what they enter in the form online.
What are the major differences between a regular Canada Visa and Canada ETA?
There are some major differences between a regular Canada visa and the Canada ETA. These are:
- A regular Canada visa – such as a temporary visitor visa or business visa lest the citizens of other nations visit Canada for specific purposes. The ETA is applicable only to the citizens of VISA exempt countries and not other nations.
- The ETA application process is online, and the applicant gets approval through email. For a Canada visa, the applicants need to visit the nearest Canadian embassy and undergo the regular procedure.
- The cost of applying for Canada ETA is far less than what it costs for a regular Canada visa.