ARCHIVED — Vol. 149, No. 8 — April 22, 2015

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Registration

SOR/2015-77 April 1, 2015

IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE PROTECTION ACT

Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations

P.C. 2015-401 April 1, 2015

His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, pursuant to subsections 5(1), 11(1.01) (see footnote a) and 14(1) to (3) (see footnote b) and section 89 (see footnote c) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (see footnote d), makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

REGULATIONS AMENDING THE IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE PROTECTION REGULATIONS

AMENDMENTS

1. The portion of subsection 1(3) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (see footnote 1) before paragraph (a) is replaced by the following:

Definition of “family member”

(3) For the purposes of the Act, other than section 12 and paragraph 38(2)(d), and for the purposes of these Regulations, other than paragraph 7.1(3)(a) and sections 159.1 and 159.5, “family member” in respect of a person means

2. The Regulations are amended by adding the following after section 7:

Electronic travel authorization

7.1 (1) A foreign national referred to in paragraph 7(2)(a) who is exempt from the requirement to obtain a temporary resident visa and who, on or after March 15, 2016, is seeking to enter Canada by air to remain on a temporary basis is, nevertheless, required to obtain an electronic travel authorization before entering Canada, unless they are exempted by subsection (3) from the requirement to obtain one.

Holder of temporary resident visa

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a foreign national who holds a temporary resident visa.

Exempt persons

(3) The following persons are exempt from the requirement to obtain an electronic travel authorization:

  • (a) Her Majesty in right of Canada and any member of the Royal Family;
  • (b) a national of the United States;
  • (c) a foreign national referred to in paragraph 190(2)(a);
  • (d) a foreign national seeking to enter and remain in Canada solely
    • (i) as a member of a crew of a means of transportation that may be used for transportation by air or to become a member of such a crew, or
    • (ii) to transit through Canada after working, or to work, as a member of a crew of a means of transportation that may be used for transportation by air, if they possess a ticket for departure from Canada within 24 hours after their arrival in Canada;
  • (e) a citizen of France who is a resident of St. Pierre and Miquelon who seeks to enter Canada directly from St. Pierre and Miquelon; and
  • (f) a foreign national referred to in any of paragraphs 190(3)(b), (b.1), (c), (d), (f), (g) or (h).

3. The Regulations are amended by adding the following after section 12.03:

Electronic travel authorization — application by electronic system

12.04 (1) Despite section 10 and subject to subsection (2), an application for an electronic travel authorization under subsection 11(1.01) of the Act must be made by means of an electronic system that is made available by the Department for that purpose.

Electronic travel authorization — application by other means

(2) If the applicant is unable to make the application by means of the electronic system because of a physical or mental disability, it may be made by another means, made available for that purpose, that would enable the applicant to make the application, including a paper application form.

Payment of fee

(3) The fee referred to in subsection 294.1(1) must be paid at the time the application is made and, unless the application is made under subsection (2), it must be paid by electronic means.

Required information

(4) The application must contain the following information:

  • (a) the applicant’s name;
  • (b) the applicant’s date and place of birth;
  • (c) the applicant’s gender;
  • (d) the applicant’s address;
  • (e) the applicant’s nationality;
  • (f) the number of the applicant’s passport or other travel document, together with its date of issue and its expiry date and the country or the authority that issued it;
  • (g) if the applicant is an applicant referred to in any of paragraphs 10(2)(c.1) to (c.4), the information required under that paragraph;
  • (h) if the applicant is making the application by means of the electronic system referred to in subsection (1), the applicant’s email address; and
  • (i) a declaration that the information provided in the application is complete and accurate.

Combined application

(5) An application for a work permit or study permit that is made by a foreign national who is required under subsection 7.1(1) to obtain an electronic travel authorization is considered to constitute an application for an electronic travel authorization.

Period of validity

12.05 An electronic travel authorization is valid for a period of five years from the day on which it is issued to the applicant or until the earliest of the following days, if they occur before the end of that period:

  • (a) the day on which the applicant’s passport or other travel document expires,
  • (b) the day on which the electronic travel authorization is cancelled, or
  • (c) the day on which a new electronic travel authorization is issued to the applicant.

Cancellation

12.06 An officer may cancel an electronic travel authorization that was issued to a foreign national if

  • (a) the officer determines that the foreign national is inadmissible; or
  • (b) the foreign national is the subject of a declaration made under subsection 22.1(1) of the Act.

4. The Regulations are amended by adding the following after section 25.1:

DIVISION 1.1

ISSUANCE OF ELECTRONIC TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION

Electronic travel authorization not to be issued

25.2 An electronic travel authorization shall not be issued to a foreign national who is subject to an unenforced removal order.

5. Section 111 of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

Processing

111. A foreign national who seeks to enter Canada as a live-in caregiver must make

  • (a) an application for a work permit in accordance with Part 11; and
  • (b) an application for
    • (i) a temporary resident visa, if such a visa is required under Part 9, or
    • (ii) an electronic travel authorization in accordance with section 12.04, if such an authorization is required under section 7.1.

6. (1) Paragraph 190(1)(a) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

  • (a) are a citizen of Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Federal Republic of Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Samoa, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sweden or Switzerland;

(2) Subsection 190(2.1) of the Regulations is repealed.

(3) Subparagraph 190(3)(b)(i) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

  • (i) they are in possession of the documents required in order to enter the United States and their flight is bound for that country, or

(4) Subsection 190(3) of the Regulation is amended by adding the following after paragraph (b):

  • (b.1) to transit through Canada as a passenger on a flight that, owing to an emergency or other unforeseen circumstances, makes an unscheduled stop in Canada;

(5) Paragraph 190(3)(e) of the Regulations is repealed.

7. The portion of subsection 240(2) of the Regulations before paragraph (a) is replaced by the following:

When removal order is enforced by officer outside Canada

(2) If a foreign national against whom a removal order has not been enforced is applying outside Canada for a visa, an authorization to return to Canada or an electronic travel authorization, an officer shall enforce the order if, following an examination, the foreign national establishes that

8. The heading of Division 2 of Part 19 of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

FEES FOR APPLICATIONS FOR AUTHORIZATIONS, VISAS AND PERMITS

Electronic Travel Authorizations

Fee — $7

294.1 (1) A fee of $7 is payable for processing an application for an electronic travel authorization.

Exception

(2) A person whose application for a work permit or a study permit is considered under subsection 12.04(5) to constitute an application for an electronic travel authorization is not required to pay the fee referred to in subsection (1).

COMING INTO FORCE

9. These Regulations come into force at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time on August 1, 2015.

REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT

(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)

Executive summary

Issues: The Government of Canada currently has limited capacity to identify and screen foreign nationals who do not require a temporary resident visa to travel to Canada. This results in a small but significant program integrity gap. While all foreign nationals intending to come to Canada on a permanent basis require a permanent resident visa, foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries who are coming to Canada on a temporary basis are not examined until they arrive at an air port of entry, where assessing admissibility is challenging due to time pressures and limited access to information that could support a determination. As a result, in 2012–2013 some 7 055 visa-exempt foreign nationals (not including citizens of the United States) were found to be inadmissible for various reasons upon arrival at a Canadian air port of entry. Had there been a mechanism in place to verify the status of these foreign nationals prior to their departure to Canada, it may have been known that they could have presented admissibility concerns upon their arrival at a Canadian air port of entry. Until now, the Government of Canada did not possess the necessary authority to examine these individuals before they travel. This causes significant expense, delay and inconvenience for the inadmissible foreign national, other travellers, airlines and the Canadian government.

Description: The Regulations will require foreign nationals who are currently exempt from the temporary resident visa requirement to hold an electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) when seeking entry into Canada by air mode. These Regulations amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations to add greater precision to the general legislative framework by specifying which foreign nationals will be required to obtain an eTA; the procedure to be followed; exemptions to the requirement; when an eTA can be cancelled by an officer; and the application processing fee.

Cost-benefit statement: The total estimated costs for the analysis period (2015–2024) are estimated to be $167.4 million in present value (PV). The total benefits resulting from the amendments are estimated to be $167.4 million (PV). The net impact of these Regulations is neutral, thus resulting in no net cost on stakeholders.

“One-for-One” Rule and small business lens: The “One-for-One” Rule does not apply to this initiative, as there is no change in administrative costs to business. The small business lens does not apply since no costs will be imposed on small business.

Domestic and international coordination and cooperation: Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency will continue to work closely with partners in the United States and other federal departments, such as the Department of National Defence, Public Safety Canada, Transport Canada, Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, Industry Canada and Shared Services Canada, to implement the amendments. The amendments also support perimeter security initiatives with the United States under the Canada-United States declaration entitled Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness.

Background

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) are responsible for managing the entry of foreign nationals into Canada by ensuring that applicants meet the necessary admissibility criteria, which includes having the proper documentation and meeting the financial and security requirements. While CIC officers determine the admissibility of all visa-required foreign nationals seeking to travel to Canada, the CBSA determines the admissibility of all foreign nationals at the port of entry including verifying documents, investigating immigration violations and denying entry to persons who are inadmissible, for example those who constitute a threat to the health of Canadians or to the safety or security of Canada.

Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (the Act), foreign nationals who are seeking to come to Canada on a temporary basis must, before entering Canada, apply to an officer for a temporary resident visa (visa) (see footnote 2) or for any other document required by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (the Regulations). (see footnote 3) At present, this visa is Canada’s only mechanism for screening foreign nationals, in advance of travel, who intend to come to Canada on a temporary basis.

The current visa framework effectively divides foreign nationals who intend to come to Canada on a temporary basis into two groups, based on the risks associated with their country of nationality:

  • visa-required foreign nationals who must undergo systematic overseas screening for admissibility before being authorized to travel to Canada; and
  • visa-exempt foreign nationals who are screened for admissibility only upon arrival at the Canadian border.

The guiding rationale for this approach is that one’s nationality provides an appropriate indicator for more rigorous pre-arrival screening practices for temporary residents. Under the Regulations, foreign nationals coming to Canada on a temporary basis may be exempt from the requirement to hold a visa on the basis of their nationality [subsection 190(1)]; the document(s) they hold [subsections 190(2) and 190(2.1)]; or the purpose of their entry [subsection 190(3)].

The number of visa-exempt foreign nationals travelling to Canada on a temporary basis per year is significantly larger than the number of visa-required travellers. For example, visa-exempt foreign nationals, excluding U.S. citizens, represent approximately 74% of foreign nationals who arrive by air in Canada.

While the visa-exempt framework encourages travel with participating countries, aspects of this exemption may be exploited by individuals seeking to circumvent the Act, the Customs Act or the Criminal Code. Currently, visa-exempt foreign nationals are not subject to the same screening as those foreign nationals who must first obtain a visa from a Canadian embassy or consulate before travelling to Canada. Applicants requiring a visa may be required to attend an interview at a visa office or to submit additional documents in order to determine if they meet Canada’s admissibility requirements (criminality, security, medical, proof of funds, intent/purpose of travel, etc.). During the visa application process, visa officers have significantly more time to interview applicants and examine the authenticity of their passports, and may also speak the applicant’s native language. An applicant who is denied a visa cannot lawfully board a plane or vessel destined for Canada.

In contrast, visa-exempt foreign nationals are not systematically screened for admissibility until they arrive at a Canadian port of entry. Only upon arrival are they subject to an examination during which a CBSA border services officer will observe the applicant, examine his or her passport, and check his or her name against automated databases and watch lists (which contain information regarding the admissibility of foreign nationals, including known terrorists, criminals and immigration law violators). The CBSA border services officer uses the information ascertained during the admissibility examination to assess the foreign national’s eligibility for admission to Canada.

In 2012–2013, 7 055 visa-exempt foreign nationals arrived in Canada and were deemed inadmissible for entry at air ports of entry. This resulted in significant expense, delay and inconvenience for these foreign nationals, other travellers, the airlines and the Canadian government. Reasons for refusal can include membership in terrorist organizations; espionage; participation in war crimes or crimes against humanity; international human rights violations; membership in organized crime groups; criminality; or issues endangering public health, such as tuberculosis.

On February 4, 2011, the Prime Minister of Canada and the President of the United States issued a declaration entitled Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness (the Action Plan). The Action Plan commits Canada and the United States to work together to enhance security and accelerate the free flow of people and goods at and beyond the Canada-United States border. As part of the agreed Action Plan, the Government of Canada announced plans to introduce an electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), which would mirror the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) program. The ESTA was introduced in the United States to screen foreign nationals who qualify under the U.S. Visa Waiver Program prior to travelling to the United States.

As a related Action Plan initiative, the CBSA is developing the Interactive Advance Passenger Information (IAPI) initiative, which would allow the CBSA to communicate a board/no-board message to air carriers (see footnote 4) based on automated checks against CIC immigration databases, prior to flight departure, on all travellers, including eTA-required foreign nationals, flying to Canada. The IAPI board/no-board message would assist air carriers in meeting their transporter obligations by validating that each traveller is either exempt or holds a prescribed document required for entry to Canada. The regulatory authorities for the IAPI initiative will be developed separately.

Issues

The guiding principle behind the current temporary resident visa framework is that one’s nationality provides a sufficient indicator of risk to trigger more rigorous pre-arrival screening practices. This principle results in a small (see footnote 5) but significant program integrity gap as high-risk individuals from visa-exempt countries can travel to Canada on a temporary basis without prior screening. These foreign nationals are not examined until they arrive at an air port of entry, where assessing admissibility is more challenging due to time pressures and limited access to information that could support the determination of admissibility for entry into Canada.

In 2012–2013, some 7 055 non-U.S. visa-exempt foreign nationals were found inadmissible at Canadian air ports of entry. Had there been a mechanism in place to verify the status of these foreign nationals prior to their departure to Canada, it would have been known that they likely would have presented admissibility concerns at a Canadian air port of entry. For example, 28 individuals with prior removal orders were detected at the air port of entry attempting to return to Canada without proper authorization to do so, thus undermining Canada’s efforts to deny them access to Canadian territory. Until now, the Government of Canada did not possess the necessary authority to examine visa-exempt foreign nationals for admissibility before they travel to Canada.

Objectives

The overall objective of these amendments is to strengthen the integrity of Canada’s immigration program by addressing issues of inadmissibility at the earliest opportunity, and, in particular, to identify inadmissible individuals who seek to enter Canada on a temporary basis and deter them from travelling to Canada in the first place. This will be achieved by establishing a new eTA entry requirement for foreign nationals travelling by air who are currently exempt from the visa requirement.

The amendments fulfill a commitment set out in the Action Plan and support the responsibility shared by Canada and the United States concerning those entering the perimeter, while facilitating ongoing efforts to streamline procedures at the Canada-United States border, thereby promoting trade and travel.

Description

The amendments require foreign nationals who are currently exempt from a visa requirement to hold an eTA when seeking to enter Canada by air.

The amendments to the Regulations add greater specificity to the general legislative framework by

  • establishing the coming-into-force date of the Regulations as August 1, 2015, and the date by which specified foreign nationals will be required to obtain an eTA in order to enter Canada by air as March 15, 2016;
  • creating the regulatory requirement to compel a visa-exempt foreign national to apply for an eTA before seeking to enter Canada by air unless they are exempt from doing so;
  • establishing the application procedures to be followed;
  • specifying when an eTA expires, as well as when and by whom it can be cancelled;
  • setting the fee that is payable for the processing of an eTA application; and
  • setting out the exemptions from the requirement to obtain an eTA.
eTA requirement, process, fee and validity period

The amendments require foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries, unless exempted from doing so, to apply for an eTA online, through the CIC Web site, by entering biographic, passport and background information similar to the personal information that is currently collected by a CBSA border services officer at a port of entry in Canada. Providing the information required by these amendments will allow Canada to determine the admissibility of foreign nationals before they arrive at the border and whether their travel poses migration or security risks.

To ensure accessibility and provide flexibility to people with physical or mental disabilities who may be unable to access the electronic eTA application, the Regulations will provide these foreign nationals with the ability to submit an application by another means that is made available for that purpose, such as a paper application form.

The amendments also set an eTA fee payable by applicants, as well as provide for a fee exemption for visa-exempt foreign nationals applying for a work permit or a study permit. Applicants will pay a $7 processing fee electronically, as a means to recover eTA costs, before electronically submitting the securely encrypted application to CIC. In circumstances where another application process is used, the fee will be paid when they submit their application.

In order to reduce the duplication of information to be provided by visa-exempt foreign nationals, the Regulations consider a visa-exempt foreign national’s application for a work permit or a study permit to constitute an application for an eTA.

The amendments establish that the eTA is valid for five years from the day on which it is issued or until the applicant’s passport or travel document expires, whichever is sooner. They also provide an officer with the ability to cancel an eTA that was issued to a foreign national if the officer determines that the foreign national is inadmissible or if the foreign national became subject to a declaration made by the Minister under the Act, (see footnote 6) thus providing an officer with the ability to revisit a visa-exempt foreign national’s eligibility to retain an eTA. This includes instances where a foreign national provided false information in the eTA application, where evidence indicates that a foreign national is inadmissible to Canada or where permitting the foreign national to travel to Canada will pose a security risk. (see footnote 7)

eTA exemptions

In order to facilitate travel, and to foster trade and commerce, as well as to respect Canada’s international commitments, the amendments introduce certain exemptions from the eTA requirement.

Nationality and British Royal Family
  • U.S. nationals: In order to support Canada’s perimeter approach to security with the United States, the amendments exempt U.S. nationals from the eTA requirement.
  • Her Majesty in right of Canada and members of the Royal Family: The amendments also provide an exemption for Queen Elizabeth II and members of the Royal Family.
Purpose of entry
  • Accredited diplomats: To harmonize the amendments with Canada’s obligations to facilitate the travel of accredited diplomats under relevant international conventions, such as the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, these amendments exempt from the eTA requirement foreign nationals who hold a passport that contains a diplomatic acceptance, a consular acceptance or an official acceptance.
  • International Civil Aviation Organization considerations: In order to ensure consistency with Canada’s commitments under the Convention on International Civil Aviation, (see footnote 8) the amendments provide an exemption from the eTA requirement to the following foreign nationals:
    • those seeking to enter and remain as a member of a flight crew or to become a member of such a crew;
    • those seeking to transit through Canada after working, or to work, as a member of a flight crew if they possess a ticket for departure from Canada within 24 hours after their arrival in Canada;
    • civil aviation inspectors of a national aeronautical authority seeking to enter Canada in order to conduct inspections of the flight operation procedures or cabin safety of a commercial air carrier operating international flights, if they possess the valid documentation to that effect; and
    • an accredited representative or advisor to an aviation accident or incident investigator under the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act, if they possess the valid documentation to that effect.
  • Residents of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon: Persons seeking to enter Canada from Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, who are citizens of France and residents of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, are exempt from the eTA requirement. Providing an exemption for this group is consistent with the Government’s commitments under the Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the Republic of France Relating to the Development of Regional Cooperation between the Canadian Atlantic Provinces and the French Territorial Collectivity of St. Pierre and Miquelon to facilitate the movement of people and goods between Canada and Saint-Pierre and Miquelon.
  • Visiting forces: In order to fulfill Canada’s international obligations as a signatory to both the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Status of Forces Agreement and its related Partnership for Peace, the amendments exempt from the eTA requirement members of visiting forces travelling to Canada to carry out official duties as a member of the armed forces of a country that is a designated state for the purposes of the Visiting Forces Act, unless they have been designated under the Act as a civilian component of those armed forces.
  • Contiguous territory: The amendments exempt from the eTA requirement foreign nationals with status in Canada seeking re-entry to Canada, within their period of authorized stay, following a visit solely to the United States or Saint-Pierre and Miquelon.
  • Refuelling: An exemption from the eTA requirement is provided to foreign nationals who are passengers on a flight stopping in Canada for the sole purpose of refuelling, if they are travelling to and from the United States and hold a valid U.S. document or they were lawfully admitted to the United States and their flight originated in that country. Furthermore, in order to accurately reflect the document requirements to enter the United States, an amendment to subparagraph 190(3)(b)(i) of the Regulations broadens the language of the document requirement. Therefore, the requirement that the foreign national be in possession of a visa to enter the United States is changed to the requirement that the foreign national be in possession of the documents required in order to enter the United States.
Documents
  • Temporary resident visa/permit: The amendments exempt the foreign nationals who hold a temporary resident visa or permit from the requirement to obtain an eTA.
Leveraging the eTA to liberalize visa requirements

To respond to continuing stakeholder input to leverage the eTA to liberalize visa requirements, these amendments repeal the requirement for nationals from Lithuania or Poland to obtain a temporary resident visa if they do not hold a machine-readable passport that contains a contactless integrated circuit chip that is issued by Lithuania or Poland. (see footnote 9) As a result of this change, Lithuania and Poland are added to the list of visa-exempt countries, (see footnote 10) and citizens of these countries will require an eTA if travelling to Canada by air.

Program integrity amendments

The amendments repeal paragraph 190(3)(e), thereby removing the existing visa exemption for the foreign nationals travelling to Canada to attend an interview at a consulate of the United States located in Canada. They will therefore need to hold an eTA or visa, if required by the Regulations.

In order to ensure compliance with existing requirements that apply to all applications made under the Act, (see footnote 11) the amendments require that all eTA applicants provide CIC with the contact information of any individual who has been appointed as their representative, as well as the contact information of any individuals who have advised the applicant for a fee or other consideration in connection with their eTA application.

Consequential amendments

To ensure consistency with other immigration categories, a consequential amendment establishing an eTA requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals entering Canada as a live-in caregiver has been added to the Regulations.

Amendments made following prepublication period
New visa and eTA exemptions

To respond to stakeholder input, the Regulations introduce a new temporary resident visa exemption and corresponding eTA exemption for foreign nationals who arrive on-board flights that stop in Canada unexpectedly owing to an emergency or other unforeseen circumstances. As these foreign nationals were not expecting to arrive in Canada, they will be exempt from visa and eTA requirements, but will continue to be subject to all other admissibility and examination requirements.

In further response to stakeholder input, the regulatory amendments also introduce a new exemption from the eTA requirement for foreign nationals transiting through Canada under Government of Canada transit programs — the Transit Without Visa Program and the China Transit Program — who are currently visa-exempt. (see footnote 12) Foreign nationals participating in these programs will now be exempt from visa and eTA requirements as the risks associated with these populations are mitigated by strict program parameters and small volumes. For example, program participants must hold a valid U.S. visa, which border services officers can easily verify visually within the passenger’s passport.

Required information for an eTA application

For clarity, the Regulations have been amended to include the applicant’s email address in the list of required information that must be contained in an eTA application.

Coming into force and the enrolment period

The eTA Regulations will come into force at 12:00 p.m., Eastern time, on August 1, 2015. At that time, the online application will be available and eTA processing will begin. However, in order to minimize impacts on the travelling public and Canadian travel and tourism industries, eTA-required travellers will be exempted from this new entry requirement until March 15, 2016.

During this exemption or “enrolment” period, which will run from August 1, 2015, to March 14, 2016, travellers can choose to go online and get their authorization, which will be valid for up to five years. By doing this, travellers will be assured that they have already been pre-screened before flying to Canada.

The eTA enrolment period, which was recommended by stakeholders, will give travellers time to learn about eTA and to obtain their authorization before it becomes mandatory. Starting on March 15, 2016, all eTA-required travellers must have an eTA in order to enter Canada.

Further consequential amendments

Finally, the prepublished Regulations specified that an eTA not be issued to a foreign national who is subject to an unenforced removal order. However, a new amendment to subsection 240(2) of the Regulations allows an officer to enforce a removal order outside of Canada if a foreign national applies for an eTA.

Regulatory and non-regulatory options considered

The amendments are necessary in order for the Government of Canada to implement an enhanced approach to identifying inadmissible persons prior to arrival at an air port of entry. Although the Act sets out the framework for requiring a visa-exempt foreign national to apply for an eTA before entering Canada on a temporary basis, regulatory amendments are needed to implement this requirement by prescribing the foreign nationals to whom it will apply. Without these changes, CIC will not be able to screen potential travellers from those countries whose citizens do not require a visa in order to come to Canada on a temporary basis.

By establishing the scope and purpose of the eTA and by clearly identifying those foreign nationals who are required to obtain an eTA, the amendments ensure that all known admissibility concerns will be addressed prior to the arrival of those foreign nationals. Thus, by means of these amendments, Canada will be able to identify inadmissible persons and prevent them from travelling to this country.

Finally, Canada and the United States already use information provided by airlines to screen inbound flights for persons at high risk of being engaged in terrorism or serious criminal activity. Consistent with the U.S. approach, these amendments will enable Canada to adopt a strengthened methodology in order to better identify high-risk travellers, such as persons known to be foreign fighters, and prevent them from travelling to Canada before they board a flight.

Benefits and costs

This study assesses the costs and benefits of the regulatory changes related to the introduction of an eTA that require visa-exempt foreign nationals, with the exception of U.S. nationals, accredited diplomats and others as listed in the Regulations, to apply for an eTA prior to boarding an aircraft to Canada. These Regulations do not introduce the requirement for an eTA when entering Canada via land or sea borders.

The cost-benefit analysis (CBA) starts from a baseline scenario. The baseline is defined as the scenario that would occur in the absence of the eTA being issued to visa-exempt foreign nationals. In the baseline, it is assumed that the IAPI initiative, an associated Action Plan initiative led by the CBSA, is implemented in March 15, 2016, and eTA functionality is not fully utilized to accrue complete benefits for the entire study period. Thus, the baseline is a hypothetical situation where no eTAs are issued to visa-exempt populations.

Under the baseline scenario, the IAPI initiative would be enforced as of March 15, 2016, and would be available to enhance data-gathering capacity, improve intelligence, close the gap on the lack of information that is provided for commercial aviation inbound traffic, and more generally to enforce the visa program. However, in the baseline, with only the IAPI initiative and no eTA capacity, foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries would be permitted to board flights to Canada with limited pre-screening functionality. The baseline scenario is then compared with the regulatory amendment. The analysis period covers 10 years beginning on August 1, 2015, and ending in 2024. All costs and benefits are projected over this period and expressed in constant 2013 dollars using a discount rate of 7%.

Based on this comparison, the present value of the total estimated benefits are projected to be $167.4 million and the present value of the total costs is estimated to be $167.4 million. The net impact of these Regulations is neutral, thus resulting in no net cost to stakeholders.

The CBA accounts for economic costs and benefits, thus the opportunity cost of the investment required to implement the eTA is accounted for in the analysis. Therefore, Canadian taxpayers will bear the economic cost of foregone revenue had these funds been placed in an investment earning a modest return. These foregone earnings are offset by the benefit of government resources saved in not processing inadmissible travellers at air ports of entry, which would result in an estimated average of more than 4 500 prevented arrivals per year at Canadian airports. Overall, the net impact demonstrates that Canadians will not be required to expend funds to implement the eTA; rather, a user pay methodology will be applied. Canadians will, however, enjoy the benefits of preventing inadmissible foreign nationals from arriving at Canadian air ports of entry. Other benefits will include the deterrence of inadmissible travellers due to the requirement that they provide information prior to departure, increased health, safety and security along with better data tracking, and a strengthened Canada-United States partnership.

The costs-benefits accounting statement

The following table provides an overview of the CBA results. The Regulations come into force on August 1, 2015. The first full year of impacts will be 2017 as the eTA is anticipated to be enforced by the IAPI initiative only on March 15, 2016. Therefore, all implementation, development and transition costs are assumed to occur from 2015 to 2017. The eTA processing costs will be incurred each year of the study. Impacts on in-Canada students and workers will occur only in 2015, as they apply to students and workers who are already in Canada on permit status. All future permits will automatically be issued with an eTA as part of the study or work application at no additional charge. Fee revenue is accounted for in each year of the analysis; however, the cost savings of prevented arrivals only commence in 2016 when the eTA will be enforced.

Costs, benefits and distribution Base Year 2015 Year Five 2019 Final Year 2024 Total Annualized Average
A. Quantified impacts in millions of present value $
Benefits Stakeholders          
Fee revenue Canadians/Government of Canada 9.3M 16.2M 13.4M 155.0M 22.1M
Cost savings of prevented inadmissible arrivals Canadians/Government of Canada 0.0M 1.5M 1.1M 12.4M 1.8M
Total benefits   9.3M 17.7M 14.5M 167.4M 23.9M
Costs Stakeholders          
Implementation, development and transition costs Canadians/Government of Canada 23.3M 0.0M 0.0M 35.0M 5.0M
eTA ongoing processing costs Canadians/Government of Canada 7.9M 13.7M 11.3M 130.7M 18.6M
eTA costs for in-Canada international students and workers In-Canada international students and workers 1.6M 0.0M 0.0M 1.6M 0.2M
Total costs   32.8M 13.7M 11.3M 167.4M 23.9M
Net benefits (net present value) 0.0M  
B. Qualitative impacts
1. Benefit of meeting our international commitments Canadians/Government of Canada Implementation of the eTA achieves Canada’s commitment to the Canada-U.S. shared vision for perimeter security and economic competitiveness, thereby accelerating the free flow of people and goods while maintaining the strength of the Canada-U.S. partnership.
2. Deterrence benefit Canadians/Government of Canada It is expected that the eTA requirement will deter some inadmissible foreign nationals from applying because of the requirement to provide information prior to arrival.
3. Enhanced data tracking and improved safety and security Canadians/Government of Canada The eTA provides CIC with the ability to gather data and track patterns of visa-exempt foreign nationals. Such tracking is currently not possible because no pre-screening is conducted on visa-exempt foreign nationals.
4. Improved integrity and facilitation of the Temporary Resident Visa program Canadians/Government of Canada The eTA program introduces a new tool which could in future permit a more nuanced and individualized risk assessment of foreign nationals than possible through current visa requirements. Having the eTA program in place could be a consideration in future strategic discussions around the visa policy framework and changes in visa requirements.
Qualitative costs Stakeholders Description of costs
1. Marketing and outreach costs Airlines and tourism industry The tourism industry may choose to incur marketing costs to advise of eTA requirements to those foreign nationals interested in travelling to Canada.
2. eTA fee costs Foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries travelling to Canada While out of scope for CBA purposes, it is acknowledged that visitors to Canada from visa-exempt countries (exceptions not included) will be required to pay a fee and spend time obtaining an eTA prior to travel to Canada. For the vast majority, the process will take minutes and the fee should not be prohibitive.
3. Tourism impacts Canadian airlines, airports and tourism industry in general It is acknowledged that there may be some short-term impacts on tourism associated with the transition to eTA; however, these impacts are not anticipated to lead to any permanent implications for tourism demand to Canada as potential declines in tourism will be offset by the light-touch nature of the eTA program, including the five-year validity and low $7 fee. Potential declines will be further mitigated through a future more nuanced and individualized risk assessment of foreign nationals than possible through current visa requirements.
4. Impacts on land and sea ports of entry Border crossings other than airports, specifically Canada-U.S. land and sea borders Travellers entering Canada at land and sea ports will not require an eTA. It is not anticipated that land and sea ports will experience a surge in demand because communication products will advise that all ports will continue to have a thorough inspection regime. It is not anticipated that travellers will switch their mode of transport to avoid the $7 fee. However, it is acknowledged that there may be an adjustment period as travellers are made aware that inspections will continue to be conducted at all ports of entry irrespective of the eTA requirement.
Business and consumer impacts

It is acknowledged that there may be some minimal short-term impacts on tourism associated with the transition to the new eTA requirements; however, the analysis assumes that these impacts will not lead to any permanent long-term implications for the Canadian tourism industry.

Stakeholders expressed that, based on the United States experience in implementing the ESTA program, there is a potential for the eTA requirement to negatively impact tourism to Canada.

The analysis assumes that regulatory amendments may have a short-term impact as visitors adjust to the new requirement. However, the regulatory amendments work to mitigate the potential risk of deterring certain individuals from travelling to Canada. For example, the amendments provide applicants with a light-touch online submission of applications. Furthermore, the fee is competitive with similar systems in place elsewhere (e.g. United States, Australia) both in terms of the fee amount and duration of the eTA (an eTA will be valid for up to a five-year period or for the period of validity of the passport or travel document, whichever is shorter, unless cancelled for inadmissibility concerns). Over the long term, imposing an eTA will also allow CIC to explore visa facilitation approaches. Such new policy developments are expected to increase demand for travel to Canada by opening up access to traditionally more restricted markets.

Furthermore, it is acknowledged that some stakeholders such as airlines may choose to advertise the new eTA requirement (link on their Web sites, text on airline tickets, etc.). It is understood, however, that there is no regulatory obligation on air carriers to advertise. CIC itself will advertise in top markets to advise travellers of the new requirement. It is not anticipated that eTA will generate any long-term impacts on Canadian business.

Distributional impacts

Once implemented, the amendments are expected to result in a cost of $167.4 million, of which $165.7 million is due to the initial upfront investment costs and the ongoing cost to process each eTA. The analysis also acknowledges the opportunity cost for Canadian taxpayers who, in effect, are lending the Government of Canada money to invest in the infrastructure required to implement the eTA. The opportunity cost may be thought of as the foregone interest had the initial $36.2 million in implementation, development and transition costs been invested. Overall, there is no net impact for Canadian taxpayers with respect to subsidizing the eTA program, with the exception of the opportunity cost of the initial investment.

There is a small impact on students and workers who reside in Canada under a student permit or a work permit and who choose to leave the country for short periods. They will now be required to apply for an eTA in order to return to Canada by air to continue their studies or work. These costs have been monetized in the analysis; however, they amount to only $1.6 million (PV) of the $167.4 million (PV) in total costs.

The primary impacts rest with foreign nationals who will be required to pay a fee and have an approved eTA prior to boarding an aircraft to Canada. It is recognized that initially airlines and airports may be impacted as their customers adjust to the new requirements.

After considering the many monetized, quantitative and qualitative benefits, such as the cost recovery fee, improved health, safety and security of Canadians, and improved integrity of the visa program, the analysis demonstrates that the benefits to Canadians and the Government of Canada will offset all monetized costs.

Accounting for uncertainty

A sensitivity analysis was conducted to reflect uncertainties surrounding the extent to which the Regulations will prevent inadmissible foreign nationals from arriving at air ports of entry and the costs to CBSA of processing those inadmissible individuals and removing them.

The two variables that were assumed to have uncertainty in their estimated values are the number of prevented arrivals and the cost savings in not having to process such arrivals at an air port of entry. The CBA study, as reported in the costs-benefits accounting statement above, took a conservative approach in estimating both values, assuming the lower end of prevented arrivals (43 516 over 10 years) and CBSA cost savings per inadmissible arrival ($398).

In assigning values for risk analysis purposes, it was assumed that over a 10-year period, the number of prevented arrivals would range from 43 516, which does not account for a deterrence impact, to 66 422 individuals, which assumes that some individuals may be deterred from applying for an eTA due to the requirement that they provide upfront information. However, in assigning a distribution for risk analysis purposes, an assumption was made that prevented arrivals would be on the conservative range of the distribution. The range of prevented arrivals was estimated based on 2012–2013 data on inadmissible travellers from visa-exempt countries (other than the United States). This data reported that 7 055 visa-exempt travellers were found inadmissible upon arrival in Canada in that year.

Regarding CBSA cost savings, two distinct values were used to account for risk. The lower range was estimated at $398 per inadmissible arrival, to reflect three hours of CBSA staff time at secondary inspection and two days of detention at an immigration holding center. The upper range was estimated at $796 per inadmissible arrival, to reflect the risk that individuals may require more time at secondary inspection and longer detention at a more expensive provincial facility.

In accounting for the risk that the benefits may have been understated in the analysis, due to the conservative assumptions made, the sensitivity analysis suggests that in changing these assumptions, the benefits will likely outweigh the costs. The margin of total benefits could thus range from $167.4 million to $192.8 million, resulting in a range of net benefits from the program to be anywhere from a nil impact to $13.4 million over the 10 years, in 90% of the simulations.

The full CBA is available upon request.

“One-for-One” Rule

The “One-for-One” Rule does not apply to this initiative, as there is no change in administrative costs to business.

Small business lens

The small business lens does not apply to this initiative, as there are no additional administrative burden or compliance costs to small business.

Consultation

As part of the planning for the introduction of the eTA, CIC conducted and initiated in-person consultations with key stakeholder groups, including international and domestic airlines and airline organizations (e.g. the Air Consultative Committee, (see footnote 13) the Air Industry Working Group (see footnote 14)), international and domestic immigration officials, (see footnote 15) and major tourism associations (e.g. the Canadian Tourism Commission) in order to obtain information on best practices or lessons learned on the implementation of similar programs, and to obtain their views on the potential impacts that the amendments could have on Canada’s tourism industry. Stakeholder input and feedback has been valuable in informing discussions and decisions on the changes, along with discussions on future potential facilitation through the eTA that is not a part of the current Regulations.

As part of these consultations, a Notice of Intent was published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on December 7, 2013, to inform the public of CIC’s intention to undertake regulatory amendments pertaining to the eTA. A total of 16 responses were received on the Notice of Intent, largely focused on the eTA application and fee, the effect of the eTA on transiting passengers, possible eTA exemptions and the need for a robust communication strategy. Where possible, these concerns were addressed in the prepublished Regulations.

Prepublication comment period

Consultations were undertaken by CIC during the prepublication phase with Canadians as well as other stakeholders, such as foreign governments and the travel/tourism industry. In addition to existing air industry and tourism forums, CIC also held an information session with representatives of 67 visa-required and visa-exempt foreign governments on July 11, 2014.

A total of 12 comments were received from individual citizens, foreign governments, airlines, airports, tourism industry stakeholders, and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) as a result of the prepublished Regulations. Stakeholder comments addressed a variety of considerations, a summary of which are provided below.

Application fee: While stakeholders noted that any fee poses a potential barrier to tourism, a number of stakeholders recognized that the $7 fee appeared reasonable and has been established solely for the purpose of cost recovery. One stakeholder requested a fee exemption for non-accredited diplomats; this suggestion has not been incorporated into the Regulations as many of these individuals, depending on their purpose of entry, already have access to a fee-exempt visa that could be used in lieu of an eTA for this group.

Unforeseen circumstances: The prepublished Regulations proposed that an eTA exemption would be provided to flights coming from or going to the United States that stop in Canada for the sole purpose of refuelling. A number of stakeholders raised concerns that this exemption was too narrow, and should be expanded to include passengers on board flights that do not intend to land in Canada, but are diverted due to unforeseen circumstances, such as mechanical or medical emergencies. To address these stakeholder concerns, the Regulations exempt passengers who arrive on board diverted flights from a visa or eTA requirement, as applicable. It is important to note that these passengers will continue to be subject to all other admissibility criteria.

Costs to airlines of the eTA program implementation: A number of stakeholders raised concern that the CBA did not reflect costs that would accrue to airlines as a result of the eTA and the associated IAPI initiative implementation, such as IT development costs and ongoing systems maintenance. As costs identified are more closely associated with the implementation of the IAPI system, they will be reflected in the future regulatory package and the CBA concerning the IAPI initiative.

Transit passengers: The prepublished Regulations proposed that all visa-exempt foreign nationals transiting Canada to and from the United States would be required to hold an eTA. This included individuals participating in Government of Canada transit programs — the Transit without Visa (TWOV) and the China Transit Program (CTP) — who hold valid United States visas, as well as other visa-exempt transit passengers who hold a valid United States ESTA travel authorization. Given that these passengers have already been screened by the United States and may have no intention of entering Canada, a large number of stakeholders expressed a desire to see an eTA exemption for these foreign nationals.

In response to these stakeholder concerns, the Regulations exempt foreign nationals transiting through Canada under the TWOV program and the CTP from the eTA requirement, although these passengers will continue to require a valid United States visa, as per current program parameters.

However, all other visa-exempt transit passengers require an eTA, regardless of whether or not they hold a United States ESTA. In the Action Plan, Canada agreed to implement a similar, but sovereign, program to the United States ESTA. As a result, there is no scope at present to consider joint screening or mutual recognition of each other’s travel authorization.

Future facilitation: A large number of stakeholders expressed support for the eTA program as a foundation for future traveller facilitation. For example, air industry stakeholders expressed a strong interest in leveraging the eTA to permit an expansion of the number of countries that are eligible for visa-free transit through Canada. CIC officials plan to engage with industry stakeholders and federal partners in order to begin work on a future vision for transit premised on an eTA, with a view to working with the Canadian air industry to further attract transit passengers.

Enrolment period: Stakeholders continued to stress the importance of an “enrolment period” to facilitate the transition to the new eTA requirement. While the concept of an enrolment period was already contemplated for the eTA program as it was a recommended best practice in the United States implementation of the ESTA program, these amendments achieve this outcome by providing an exemption from the eTA requirement for all travellers seeking to fly to Canada between August 1, 2015, and March 15, 2016. During the enrolment period, travellers may choose to apply for an eTA; however, possession of an eTA will not be mandatory to travel to or enter Canada. Once the enrolment period ends and the IAPI initiative is implemented on March 15, 2016, eTA-required foreign nationals who receive a “no board” message will not be able to board an aircraft destined to Canada if they are not in possession of the required eTA. Consistent with stakeholder comments, the enrolment period will also be accompanied by a robust communications and engagement plan to ensure travellers are made aware of the new requirement.

Timing of enrolment period: A number of stakeholders voiced strongly that the eTA should not be implemented during the busy summer travel season. This has been carefully considered in the final formulation of these Regulations. It is important to note that while the eTA program will launch on August 1, 2015, on which date the online application form will be made available to travellers who wish to apply for their eTA in advance, the eTA will not be mandatory for travellers seeking to fly to Canada until March 15, 2016. As a result, disruptions to the busy travel season are expected to be minimal. To avoid confusion among travellers who may have already booked tickets for summer travel and avoid possible impacts on the tourism and air industries, this message will be strongly reinforced through proactive communications and marketing activities. As well, CIC officials will engage stakeholders and travellers to dispel any misunderstanding about the enrolment period and potential impacts on travel.

Privacy: The OPC provided input underlining the importance of carefully considering the data elements to be collected in the eTA application and any onward disclosure of personal information, the necessity for safeguards relative to personal information transmitted online, as well as the importance of transparency and openness around the eTA program. CIC will be putting in place firm controls on the access, use and disclosure of eTA data and will be addressing the OPC’s input in a detailed privacy impact assessment of the eTA program. The Department will also be conducting a threat and risk assessment of the eTA program to ensure that the privacy of eTA applicants is protected.

Regulatory cooperation

While supporting the Action Plan, the amendments complement the United States ESTA program by promoting a common approach to border screening by strengthening mutual security by addressing potential threats to the North American perimeter as early as possible.

Rationale

The implementation of the eTA program allows Canada to meet commitments made as part of the Action Plan to identify inadmissible individuals who seek to enter Canada and to deter them from travelling to Canada in the first place. In conjunction with the existing United States ESTA program, the eTA program strengthens the Canada-United States partnership by creating a common approach to screening travellers at the perimeter. It is also important to note that the United States ESTA and Canada’s eTA program will not become an integrated or harmonized program — rather, Canada’s eTA program is being built upon operational concepts similar to those of the United States ESTA.

Currently, visa-exempt foreign nationals are not examined until they arrive at the border, where assessing admissibility is more challenging due to time pressure and the limited access to information that could support the determination of admissibility. This creates a small but significant program integrity pressure given the potential gravity of admissibility concerns. Such concerns include war crimes, crimes against humanity, international human rights violations, security or criminality, etc. The eTA requirement will also act as a deterrent to inadmissible travellers subject to the eTA requirement as they will be required to undergo screening prior to travel, and it will be unlawful to travel to Canada by air without an eTA. For example, foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada using lost or stolen travel documents may be deterred from applying because the system will electronically check against lost and stolen document databases prior to issuing an eTA electronically.

Having the eTA application examined prior to travel to Canada, and having determined that the foreign national is not inadmissible and meets the requirements of the Act, will increase a CBSA officer’s confidence that these individuals have been pre-screened, which may contribute in some cases to faster processing of travellers at the port of entry. However, everyone seeking to enter Canada must appear for examination at the port of entry at which point a decision on admissibility will be made by the CBSA. Currently, visa-exempt foreign nationals only learn of their inadmissibility upon arrival in Canada. With the eTA requirement in place, the traveller will learn of their inadmissibility prior to travel.

The core elements of the eTA process ensure that a balance between facilitation and security objectives is achieved. By processing cases of concern before the traveller reaches the border, costs to the Government of Canada associated with enforcement or removal of inadmissible foreign nationals will be reduced. In addition, the costs associated with development, implementation and operation of the eTA scheme will be fully recovered through processing fees applied to foreign nationals seeking eTAs. Such fees will be deposited into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

The eTA program introduces a new tool which could in future permit a more nuanced and individualized risk assessment of foreign nationals than is possible at present under current visa requirements. Having the eTA program in place could therefore be a consideration in future strategic discussion with respect to the visa policy framework and changes in visa requirements.

As an example, on November 22, 2014, Canada granted a visa exemption for citizens of Chile. This was the result of a comprehensive review whereby Canada determined that Chile met Canada’s visa policy criteria for an exemption, including a low likelihood of irregular migration from Chile to Canada once the visa requirement was removed. Without a visa in place, eTA screening is an additional tool to detect and deter any potential irregular migration from Chile and other visa-exempt countries, and may allow the Government of Canada to further liberalize visa requirements in the future.

Implementation, enforcement and service standards

Implementation
Coming into force and enrolment period

The eTA program will have a “soft launch” with the coming into force of these regulatory amendments at 12 p.m. Eastern time, on August 1, 2015. The online application will be available for eTA-required foreign nationals to complete in advance, should they wish, and eTA processing activities will commence. However, in order to minimize impacts on the travelling public as well as Canadian travel and tourism industries, a time-limited eTA exemption for all travellers is provided by these amendments until March 15, 2016. During this time-limited enrolment period, foreign nationals wishing to apply for an eTA to ensure pre-screening before travel may do so. This also ensures that any travellers who may not have become aware of the requirement are not adversely impacted by being forced to delay or reorganize travel plans due to the introduction of the program. As of March 15, 2016, the eTA will become mandatory for all eTA-required travellers seeking to fly to Canada.

Information technology implications

There are significant CIC information technology (IT) implications associated with the development and implementation of the eTA, as well as in initiatives led by the CBSA in which CIC has a vested interest (Entry/Exit and the IAPI initiatives). These initiatives entail the development of a set of technical requirements for changes and additions to existing CIC IT systems and a financial investment in IT infrastructure to support these requirements.

Human resources-related activities

Other implementation activities include human resources-related functions, and the development of operational and administrative policies and procedures. In particular, an in-Canada processing centre will be created to allow officers to review applications that cannot be approved automatically for various reasons, particularly the presence of derogatory information. All negative decisions regarding eTA applications will be made by an officer, following a thorough review.

Highly complex cases which are expected to be very few in number require assessment by a senior decision-maker and could also be referred to an overseas mission. Once a case is referred overseas, applicants may be asked to provide additional documentation to support their application, as well as to attend an interview with an officer to confirm that they are a traveller in compliance with the immigration legislation. Some of these cases may also require further investigation and may therefore be referred to security partners, including the CBSA, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Communication and outreach activities

Finally, working closely with key partners, including the tourism and travel sectors and air industry stakeholders, the Government will implement a multi-faceted communications/outreach strategy to promote travellers’ awareness of the eTA. Planned key activities include a multilingual advertising and marketing campaign, which will be targeted to countries with the highest volumes of eTA-required travellers (including Europe and the United States); a proactive media engagement strategy involving Canadian and mission announcements, media interviews, a strong Web presence and a social media campaign; and outreach to foreign government officials both in Canada and overseas, whose nationals will be required to obtain an eTA; and a partner strategy so that airlines, travel agencies and other stakeholders can disseminate communication products.

Enforcement

The eTA will be an electronic document issued to the traveller. No printed paper documents will be issued, and a copy of the eTA will not be provided to air carriers. As a result, air carriers will have no mechanism to confirm whether eTA-required foreign nationals possess an eTA until a separate enforcement mechanism is established.

As a separate Action Plan commitment, the CBSA is developing the IAPI initiative which will create the capacity to communicate a “board/no board” message to air carriers. (see footnote 16) This initiative will assist air carriers in determining whether or not to proceed with boarding a traveller, further to transporter obligations under the Act. The regulatory authorities for the IAPI initiative will be developed separately. Personal information obtained from applicants through the eTA application will not be shared with airlines.

Service standards

The eTA will be an electronically stored authorization required of most visa-exempt foreign nationals seeking to travel to Canada by air. To assist clients with the completion of their eTA application, CIC will offer a help text in multiple foreign languages on the eTA help page.

It is anticipated that in all cases, a response will be received (see footnote 17) by the client within minutes after submitting their application. Cases that are referred for further review (see footnote 18) will be subject to a service standard of 72 hours, which will compel CIC to contact the client within that time frame, with an approval, a refusal, or a request for more information, or to inform the client that their application has been sent for further assessment.

In a small number of instances, applications where clear risks have been identified will be referred to security partners for further investigation, or referred overseas for further assessment and final determination following one-on-one contact with the client, whichever is most appropriate. These types of cases will be subject to the current service standard for the temporary resident program.

The eTA will be linked to the passport number indicated by the individual in their application; therefore, the same passport will need to be used when travelling to Canada. If the visa-exempt foreign national obtains a new passport, he or she will be required to obtain a new eTA before travelling to Canada.

Applications made by other means, such as a paper process, which will be available for people with physical or mental disabilities who may be unable to access the electronic eTA application, will be processed as expeditiously as possible.

Contact

Tina Matos
Director
Document and Visa Policy
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
180 Kent Street, 8th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 1L1
Telephone: 613-437-5897
Fax: 613-952-9187
Email: tina.matos@cic.gc.ca

  • Footnote a
    S.C. 2012, c. 31, s. 308
  • Footnote b
    S.C. 2012, c. 31, s. 309; S.C. 2013, c. 16, s. 4
  • Footnote c
    S.C. 2013, c. 40, par. 237(1)(i)
  • Footnote d
    S.C. 2001, c. 27
  • Footnote 1
    SOR/2002-227
  • Footnote 2
    Section 11 of the Act.
  • Footnote 3
    Sections 11 and 12 of the Regulations.
  • Footnote 4
    The Act and the Regulations require transporters to ensure that the persons they bring to Canada possess valid visas, passports and other travel documents required for entry into Canada. Transporters must ensure that the travel documents are genuine and are being used by the rightful holder. Transporters who carry an improperly documented passenger may be required to pay the costs of their removal and may be liable for an administration fee under section 280 of the Regulations.
  • Footnote 5
    Op. Cit, note 3.
  • Footnote 6
    Under subsection 22.1(1) of the Act, the Minister can declare that a foreign national cannot become a temporary resident if the Minister is of the opinion that it is justified by public policy considerations.
  • Footnote 7
    The foreign national could be eligible for a temporary resident permit.
  • Footnote 8
    The Chicago Convention.
  • Footnote 9
    Subsection 190(2.1).
  • Footnote 10
    Paragraph 190(1)(a).
  • Footnote 11
    Section 91 of the Act and subsection 10(2) of the Regulations.
  • Footnote 12
    Paragraph 190(3)(c) of the Regulations.
  • Footnote 13
    The Air Consultative Committee provides CBSA and Transport Canada officials and air industry stakeholders with a forum for dialogue on Canada’s airport border operations. In order to obtain stakeholders feedback on the eTA initiative, CIC has been regularly invited to attend these meetings to consult the air industry during the development of these amendments.
  • Footnote 14
    The Air Industry Working Group acts as a forum between CIC/CBSA, other government departments and Canadian/international air carriers on the eTA, Interactive Advance Passenger Information and Entry/Exit initiatives.
  • Footnote 15
    CIC has consulted immigration officials from the United States and Australia regarding the implementation of their similar programs (ESTA and ETA/eVisitor).
  • Footnote 16
    The Act and the Regulations require transporters to ensure that the persons they bring to Canada possess valid visas, passports and other travel documents required for entry into Canada. Transporters must ensure that the travel documents are genuine and are being used by the rightful holder. Transporters who carry an improperly documented passenger may be required to pay the costs of their removal and may be liable for an administration under section 280 of the Regulations.
  • Footnote 17
    All applicants will receive a confirmation of receipt of their application immediately following successful application submission, as well as one of the following responses within minutes of submitting their eTA application: “Approval” or “eTA pending request referred to in-Canada triage unit.”
  • Footnote 18
    Within the in-Canada processing centre.