Travellers to Canada from visa-exempt countries will soon face additional hurdles when applying for a visa visit as the government of Canada has announced the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) program.
The ETA program will screen travellers before they depart for Canada and will identify inadmissible visa-exempt foreign nationals overseas in order to prevent them from travelling to Canada. Meanwhile the program will facilitate travel for qualified visitors.
"Travellers will punch in certain biographical information on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website, and receive confirmation that they can travel within minutes though some may have their applications reviewed by a visa officer before a final decision is made," explains Deepak Kohli, President of Transcend Consultants, a Canadian Immigration Consultant.
"Those cleared for travel will have to print the confirmation and present it along with other travel documents before boarding."
According to Deepak, visit visa denial could hit failed refugee claimants, criminals and people on no-fly lists, while individuals who are flagged may be told to call a number or visit a visa office for further investigation.
Travellers from non-exempt countries will most probably not be required to apply through the ETA program, as their visa application is channelled through another vetting process.
Similarly, US residents are likely to be exempted from the ETA program. "The changes are considered to be part of the perimeter security deal with the USA signed by Canada, and are likely to exempt US citizens," says Deepak.
The measure was included in the latest budget Implementation Bill.
Transcend Consultants views the steps as a mechanism by the Government of Canada to process inadmissible persons with lower costs and resources to all parties.
"As regulated Canadian immigration consultants, we lobby for fair and cost-effective immigration processes, and are ready to serve aspiring visa-exempt travellers to Canada in coming years," comments Deepak.
The ETA program will be effective by 2015.