Canada Extends Visa-Free Air Travel Privileges to Caribbean Citizenship-by-Investment
On June 6, 2023, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced a significant expansion of Canada’s electronic travel authorization (eTA) program. This expansion includes 13 new countries whose citizens can now enjoy visa-free air travel to Canada. These countries include Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and St Lucia, all of which have citizenship-by-investment programs.
Here are the key points regarding this announcement:
- Eligibility for eTA: Citizens of the 13 newly added countries can apply for an eTA for visa-free air travel to Canada. However, there are specific eligibility criteria. Travelers must have either held a Canadian visa within the past 10 years or possess a valid United States non-immigrant visa. If these criteria are met, they can apply for an eTA instead of a traditional visa when visiting Canada by air.
- Use of Existing Visas: If you currently hold a valid visa for Canada, you can continue to use it for your travels to the country. The eTA is primarily for those who meet the specific criteria and want to streamline the visa application process for air travel.
- Other Means of Travel: If you are ineligible for an eTA or plan to enter Canada by means other than air, such as by car, bus, train, or boat, you will still be required to obtain a visitor visa.
- Visitor Stay Duration: Eligible travelers using eTA can stay in Canada for up to six months.
- Benefits of the Program: The introduction of visa-free air travel is expected to expedite and streamline the process for thousands of visitors, whether for business or leisure. By directing a significant number of applications to the eTA program, all visa applicants are expected to benefit from more efficient processing.
- Expanding List of Eligible Countries: The list of eligible countries for the eTA program now includes Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Costa Rica, Morocco, Panama, Philippines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay.
- Economic Impact: The initiative is designed to boost Canada’s economy by encouraging travel, tourism, and international business. It also aims to foster stronger relationships with the countries included in the program while maintaining the safety of Canadians.
- Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA): The eTA serves as a digital travel document for most visa-exempt travelers who plan to transit through or visit Canada by air. The application process is streamlined, and the majority of applications are approved within minutes. To apply for an eTA, you will need a valid passport, a credit card, an email address, and internet access.
- Previous Expansions: The eTA program was initially introduced on August 1, 2015, and has been expanded over the years to include eligible travelers from various countries. In April 2017, it was expanded to include travelers from Brazil, Bulgaria, and Romania.
- Expected Increase in Visitors: Canada anticipates a significant increase in visitors from the 13 newly added countries, amounting to approximately 200,000 more travelers (a 20% increase) within the next year. Over the next decade, this heightened travel activity is expected to generate nearly $160 million in additional tourism revenue.
It’s important to note that this information is based on the details provided in the announcement and may be subject to change. If you are interested in obtaining citizenship in Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, or St Lucia, you are encouraged to contact the relevant authorities or agencies for more information.