1. In Canada, 2 federal departments govern immigration:
(a) Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), previously Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC); and
(b) Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) (CBSA was a merger of the old CIC enforcement division and Canada Customs.) (I was a Canadian Customs officer for 2 summers. We wore gold coloured shirts – very flashy.)
2. IRCC stocks Visa Offices (also known as “Visa Posts”) within Canada’s embassies, high commissions and consulates with IRCC officers (who are then called “Visa Officers”). These Visa Officers approve Visa Applications and issue Visas. Now they also approve eTA applications and issue Canadian eTAs. CBSA stocks Canada’s Border Posts (including Canada’s Airports) with CBSA officers to examine travelers entering Canada and also examine the goods these travelers bring into Canada. Border Posts also examine US and Mexican citizens entering Canada for a purpose set out under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) without a Canadian Visa issued by a Visa Post (US and Mexican citizens are allowed to do this under NAFTA. Mexican citizens still need a visa to visit Canada before December 1, 2016, however, under NAFTA, Mexican citizens are allowed to apply for a Canadian Visa at a border post, instead of at a Visa Post.).
3. After the 9/11 2001 attack on USA, as part of the security improvement, USA set up the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) requirement: it requires citizens from Visa Waive (Visa exempt) countries to apply for and obtain ESTAs before they are allowed to enter USA. Subsequently, Airlines require passengers bound for USA to obtain their ESTAs before they are allowed to board the Airlines’ airplanes.
4. On February 4, 2011, the Prime Minister of Canada and the President of the United States issued Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness. This Declaration established a new long-term partnership built upon a perimeter approach to security and economic competitiveness. The Canadian eTA has been set up as the security part of the above-stated Declaration.
II. Canadian eTA
Beginning on March 15, 2016, if you travel to Canada (by air only), even if you do not require a Visa to enter Canada, you may still need a Canadian Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to enter Canada. The latest word from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) which enforces the eTA requirement is that they will enforce the eTA requirement as of November 10, 2016. I am only dealing with the eTA requirement to enter into Canada in this article. If you wish to change airplane in Canada to fly to another country, or if you wish to transit through Canada, there may be different requirements which I do not deal with in this article.
1. Citizens of the following countries (territories) who need an eTA to enter Canada (by air only):
Republic of Singapore
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (for both holders of HKSAR passports and holders of UK British National (overseas) passports)
Taiwan (except holder of Taiwanese passports which do not include their personal identification numbers)
2. For People’s Republic of China citizens and for Taiwanese passport holders whose passports do not include their personal identification numbers:
You need a Visa to enter Canada (by air or by any other means). But when you already have obtained a Visa to enter Canada, then you are exempted from the eTA requirement. Canadian citizens and Canadian Permanent Residents have an automatic right to enter Canada, therefore they are exempted from both the Visa requirement and the eTA requirement.
3. Applying for the eTA:
You can apply for the eTA on line. You go to the IRCC website www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta-start.asp and complete the application online. You also have to pay $Can 7 by credit card online. Once approved, you will receive your eTA through your email address. Print off your eTA and bring it with you to the airport to travel to Canada. (The IRCC claims that your eTA is electronically linked to your passport. When you check in at your departing airport, the document reader at that airport that reads your passport will automatically pick up your eTA. However, to be on the safe side, you should bring both your printed eTA and your passport with you when you go to your departing airport.) Your eTA is valid during the validity of your passport that you have used to apply for your eTA, up to a maximum of 5 years. If you renew your passport, you also need to renew your eTA.
III. LATEST CANADIAN IMMIGRATION NEWS
1. Starting early next year, immigrants sponsored by their Canadian spouses will not be required to stay in a relationship for two years in order to keep their permanent resident status in the country.
2. Canada’s new program that allows immigrants to voluntarily give up their permanent resident status for various reasons has been a resounding success, despite a lack of any publicity. (Canadian permanent residents giving up their permanent resident status for 2015 and for the first half of 2016 include 3,116 Chinese citizens, 669 Taiwanese citizens and 186 Hong Kong citizens.)