Canada is expanding the list of countries whose residents are eligible to visit this country without a travel visa.
People traveling by air from 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, and Uruguay can now do so for up to six months without a visa, according to a release by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
“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,” said Immigration Minister Sean Fraser in a statement issued Tuesday. “This expansion not only enhances convenience for travelers, it will also increase travel, tourism and economic benefits, as well as strengthen global bonds with these 13 countries.”
The 13 countries have been added to the list of more than 50 other places from which travelers are visa-exempt and electronic travel authorization (eTA)-eligible, as long as they have either held a Canadian visa in the last 10 years or currently hold a valid United States non-immigrant visa.
The eTA is a $7 pre-screening entry requirement linked to a traveler’s passport for a period of five years, and allows people to enter Canada as frequently as they want for short stays. The eTA applications are also automatically approved within minutes, according to the government release.
The new additions will also help “divert thousands of applications from Canada’s visa caseload,” which can currently take several months, depending on the country from which a person is traveling.
Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said in the statement the addition of some of the 13 countries, particularly the Philippines, is in line with the federal government’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, released last fall.
“Expanding the eTA program to include countries like the Philippines is also an important part of our Indo-Pacific Strategy, as we look to further engage in the region, build people-to-people ties and make travel to Canada easier, faster and safer for everyone,” she said.
According to the release, Canada can expect about 20 per cent more visitors from the 13 countries, which could bring in nearly $160 million in tourism revenue within the next decade.