Starting March 15, 2016, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) is implementing new travel regulations for foreign nationals who do not otherwise require a visa to come into the country. Currently, visa-exempt travelers are not examined for admissibility until they arrive at the Canadian port of entry.  This new Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) program, which originated in from the “2011 Beyond the Border Action Plan” between Canada and the United States, will pre-screen air travelers for admissibility concerns prior to allowing them onto the plane.

$7.00 online application

Air travelers will be required to pay a $7.00 processing fee to apply via an online system. The ETA will be approved and issued in most cases within minutes of the application. Cases which require further review will be completed within 72 hours. The ETA will be valid for up to five years, or until the applicant’s passport or travel document expires. If a foreign national obtains a new passport, a new ETA will be required before traveling to Canada.

Who is affected?

With the exception of American citizens, everyone flying into Canada will now be pre-examined. The ETA applies to individuals who can enter Canada without a visa arriving by air. It is not required when entering at a land border or by sea.

Starting on March 15, 2016, visa exempt work and study permit holders who are already in Canada will be required to obtain an ETA if they leave Canada and re-enter by air. Future permit applications will automatically be issued with an ETA at no additional charge.

Impacts to business and travel

We aren’t clear how much business travel and the “business of travel” will be affected but these new regulations will impact global mobility.  Additional time and resources will be needed to manage the new ETA processing. Although air travelers have gotten more accustomed to security checks and other boarding delays, this could be a whole new world.

Privacy and personal information

What other purposes might this personal information be used for and how much of it will be shared between countries? Requesting details of a visitor’s background could delve into other issues such as medical or security concerns. Not only will we be dealing with time delays but this could involve internal reviews of company policy and the greater privacy concerns.

One thing is for sure. It’s going to get much more complicated for Human Resources who deal with international business travelers. This could trigger major obstacles for travelers who may be inadmissible for health, criminality, or previous non-compliance with Canadian immigration requirements.