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Canada Expands Visa-Free Travel to 13 More Countries

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On June 6th, 2023, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced 13 additional countries into its Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) program. Qualifying citizens from these countries may now enter to visit Canada without a visa.

Canada Expands Visa-Free Travel to 13 More Countries
Featured article photo: Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park, British Columbia by clement fusil (Unsplash License)

Five of the 13 countries are from The Carribean, with eight others from Central and South America, Africa, as well as Southeast Asia. Here is the list of 13 additional countries where qualifying citizens can now apply for Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to visit Canada:

  • The Carribean (5): Antigua and Barbuda 🇦🇬, St. Kitts and Nevis 🇰🇳, St. Lucia 🇱🇨, St. Vincent and the Grenadines 🇻🇨, Trinidad and Tobago 🇹🇹

  • Central America (2): Costa Rica 🇨🇷, Panama 🇵🇦

  • South America (2): Argentina 🇦🇷, Uruguay 🇺🇾

  • Africa (2): Morocco 🇲🇦, Seychelles 🇸🇨

  • Southeast Asia (2): Phiippines 🇵🇭, Thailand 🇹🇭

Important: Only qualifying citizens from these 13 countries are eligible for visa-free travel to Canada.

According to the official news release from Canada.ca, citizens from these countries can enter to visit Canada without needing to apply a visa only if:

  1. They have previously held a Canadian visa in the last 10 years, or
  2. They currently hold a valid non-immigrant visa in the United States

As such, the expansion of the visa-free travel policy to the 13 countries works more like an exemption rather than a full visa waiver to every citizen from these countries.

It is not uncommon for countries to waive visa requirements based on another visa an individual holds. For example, individuals from countries who would otherwise need a visa to enter Costa Rica 🇨🇷 as a visitor can enter the country visa-free provided they have a valid visa from Canada or United States. Citizens from countries who typically require a visa to visit Mexico 🇲🇽 can enter the country without a visa if they have a valid visa from Canada, United States, Japan, UK, or the Schengen Area.

What Is The Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)?

The Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is an online system to pre-screen individuals from eligible countries prior to their arrival by air to visit Canada. 

It only takes a few minutes to apply, and it costs CAD 7. Canadian eTAs are valid for 5 years, and visitors can stay in the country for up to 6 months upon each entry. Prior to June 6th, 2023, there are over 50+ countries around the world eligible for eTA and thus citizens from these countries do not need to apply for a visa in advance to visit Canada.

Canadian eTAs are similar to Australia's Subclass 601 Electronic Travel Authority (also abbreviated as ETA), where citizens from eligible countries can apply and submit their information in minutes, with a payment of AUD 20. Once approved, Australian ETAs are valid for 12 months, and visitors can stay in the country for up to 3 months upon each entry. 

Difference Between an eTA and a Visitor Visa

A visitor visa to Canada costs around CAD 100 per person, and the requirements to obtain it are significantly more stringent compared to an eTA. 

Unlike an eTA which are typically processed within minutes, a Canadian visitor visa may take days and even months to process depending on the country where applications are submitted.

To apply for a Canadian visitor visa, applicants must provide proof of funds, proof of ties to country of nationality or residence, travel history, and meet health requirements by going through a medical exam, amongst other requirements.