Seyfarth Synopsis: Canada launched a new Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) that must be obtained by visa-exempt nationals entering Canada by air on or after September 29, 2016. Individuals requiring an eTA will not be permitted to board the aircraft. U.S. citizens are exempted from this requirement, but U.S. green card holders must obtain an eTA.

The following alert is directed to organizations with a presence in Canada or who anticipate the need to place talent at a Canadian work site.

Seyfarth Shaw’s Global Mobility Practice hosts attorneys licensed to practice in the UK, Canada, and Germany. The group has the capability to assist clients with obtaining work and residence visas for over 70 jurisdictions around the world. If we can assist you in placing talent, please call your Seyfarth attorney. We will be happy to help you.

On March 15, 2016, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) introduced a new entry procedure requiring visa-exempt nationals (other than U.S. citizens) to obtain an electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) if entering or transiting through Canada by air. Between March 15, 2016 and September 29, 2016, travelers who have not yet obtained an eTA can board their flights, as long as they carry appropriate travel documents. Since March 15, 2016, obtaining an eTA has been optional. However, as of September 29, 2016, visa-exempt foreign nationals (including U.S. green card holders, work permit holders or visitors to the U.S. who enter Canada by air), must obtain an eTA before boarding their flight. Without the eTA, he or she will not be allowed to board the aircraft.

The following individuals do not need to submit an eTA Application:

  • Visa-exempt individuals entering by land or by sea.
  • United States passport holders.
  • Those who have received a valid Temporary Resident Visa or Work Permit through a Canadian Consulate will automatically be issued an eTA.

Every individual entering Canada will continue to be interviewed by a Canada Border Services Agency officer who will examine their travel documentation. Individuals who either have an eTA or are exempted from the requirement must continue to meet general entry requirements upon each entry to Canada. If the visa-exempt individual previously relinquished Canadian Permanent Residency status, has an expired Canadian Permanent Residency card or has been charged, arrested, detained or convicted of a criminal offense, we strongly suggest speaking to immigration counsel in advance of submitting an application online.

Although there is a transition period, we strongly recommend that individuals requiring an eTA apply in advance to ensure that there are no unforeseen delays with obtaining the eTA. Applicants should confirm whether they are required to obtain an eTA for entry by visiting the following website: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas.asp.

The eTA will electronically link to the passport and, once granted, will be valid for a period of five years from the day on which it is issued to the applicant unless the individual’s passport or travel document is set to expire or the eTA is cancelled.