October 31, 2016 - Canada to lift visa requirement for Bulgarians and Romanians

Canada's Immigration Minister announced today the plan to lift the visa requirement for citizens of Romania and Bulgaria, starting from December 1, 2017.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) plans to partially lift the visa requirements even earlier - on May 1, 2017. The partial lift will allow Romanian and Bulgarian citizens who have had a temporary resident visa (TRV) in the past 10 years, or who have a current and valid non-immigrant visa to the US, to enter or transit through Canada with an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), instead of a visa.

IRCC has indicated that the visa lift is not a permanent change, and the visa could potentially be re-imposed if irregular travel into Canada significantly increases.

Overview: What is an eTA?

The Canadian government introduced an entry requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals in early 2016, called the Electronic Travel Authorization, or an eTA.  The eTA requirement is outlined under S. 11(1.01) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

As of March 15, 2016, individuals from visa-exempt countries travelling or transiting through Canada by air have been able to apply for an eTA. The eTA has been optional, but starting from September 29, 2016, the leniency period will end, and the eTA will become mandatory, subject to the exemptions outlined below. Individuals requiring an eTA to enter Canada will not be able to board an airplane without one. 

Who needs an eTA, and who is exempted from the eTA?

Foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries travelling to Canada by air will be required to obtain an eTA. However, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has outlined exemptions. The following individuals do not need an eTA to enter Canada:

  • Foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries who are entering Canada by land or sea;
  • Citizens of the U.S. (whether travelling by air, land or sea), as long as they have a valid U.S. passport;
  • Individuals from visa-requiring countries, who have a valid visa (temporary resident visa);

How to apply for the eTA, and how long is it valid?

Individuals can apply for an eTA online using IRCC's website, and must pay the $7.00CAD fee using a credit card. The application is frequently processed in a few minutes, but can take up to several days. 

The eTA is valid for a period of 5 years, or until expiry of the applicant's passport, if earlier than 5 years. Individuals who have an approved eTA can make multiple visits to Canada over the period of validity.

For those who require an eTA, we strongly suggest applying in advance as a precaution and to avoid delays.

Individuals who have been charged or convicted of criminal offences, who have significant medical issues, or have relinquished or renounced their Canadian permanent residence are strongly advised to consult with an immigration lawyer prior to submitting en eTA.

For assistance with the eTA application, contact us today by clicking here.