Canada adds 13 countries in visa-free travel list

Eligible travellers need to be holders of US visa or had Canadian visa

By Charmaine Y. Rodriguez

Filipinos with the right travel documents can now enter Canada for just $7 and with an authorization that can be secured in just a few minutes.

Canada has introduced visa-free air travel to travelers from 13 countries, including the Philippines, who have either held a Canadian visa in the last 10 years or who currently hold a valid United States non-immigrant visa.

Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced the addition of the 13 countries to the electronic travel authorization (eTA) program.

Effective June 6, 2023, eligible travellers from these countries can benefit from the program:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Costa Rica
  • Morocco
  • Panama
  • Philippines
  • St. Kitts and Nevis
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Seychelles
  • Thailand
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Uruguay

An eTA is a digital travel document that most visa-exempt travellers need in order to travel to or transit through Canada by air. They only need  a valid passport, a credit card, an email address and access to the Internet.

With the new policy, applicants of visitor visa can save $50 to $500 in visa application and processing fees, Kaeda Kikumoto, an immigration consultant, told ABS CBN News.

She also warned Filipinos against unscrupulous persons who might take advantage of this new immigration policy to dupe people into fake schemes.

Fraser said the change was made to make it faster, easier, and more affordable for thousands of travellers to visit Canada for up to six months for either business or leisure.

“This exciting development means that more individuals from around the world can now embark on unforgettable adventures, explore our diverse landscapes, reunite with family and friends, and immerse themselves in our vibrant culture without the hurdle of visa requirements. This expansion not only enhances convenience for travellers, it will also increase travel, tourism and economic benefits, as well as strengthen global bonds with these 13 countries,” Fraser said in a press release.

“It will also help grow Canada’s economy by facilitating more travel, tourism and international business, and by strengthening Canada’s relationships with these countries while keeping Canadians safe,” the IRCC’s press statement also reads.

More importantly, it will divert thousands of applications from Canada’s visa caseload, allowing IRCC to process visa applications more efficiently, which will benefit all visa applicants.

Individuals who already have a valid visa can continue to use it to travel to Canada. Those who are not eligible for an eTA, or who are travelling to Canada by means other than air (for example, by car, bus, train and boat—including by cruise ship), will still need a visitor visa.

Travellers can visit to find out whether they’re eligible for an eTA and how to apply for one.

Within the next year, Canada expects to receive 200,000 (or 20%) more visitors from these 13 countries. Within a decade, increased travel from these countries is expected to bring almost $160 million in additional tourism revenue.

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