Barriers to Electronic Travel Authorizations in Canada: What you need to beware of


This guest article was authored by Samanta Garcia Fialdini, Associate at Corporate Immigration Law Firm.

In 2015, Canada amended the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) to introduce the electronic travel authorization (eTA). The eTA is an electronic document that is required for most visa-exempt air travellers to Canada, as well as those transiting through Canada by air, with the exception of United States citizens and a few other individuals who are exempt from the eTA requirement. As of April 26, 2022, the regulations have been amended to also exempt United States Lawful Permanent Residents (USLPRs) who are citizens of countries that would otherwise require visas. The latter continue to be required to present proof of valid USLPR status and a valid travel document from their country of nationality before boarding flights, and at Canadian ports of entry.

The following applicants, however, are barred from applying for an eTA and are instead required to apply for an alternative entry document to visit Canada:

  • Individuals deemed inadmissible, such as those facing prior criminal convictions captured by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) including impaired driving or cannabis-related crimes, and those who previously held an eTA and subsequently become the subject of a report on inadmissibility or are issued a temporary resident permit to overcome an inadmissibility, are ineligible to hold an eTA. In assessing admissibility, however, officers are instructed to refer high profile cases with a known inadmissibility on file to an overseas officer for manual review, which is to be carried out in consultation with IRCC’s Case Management Branch to determine if the person is eligible for a public policy eTA, national interest eTA, or national interest temporary resident permit.
  • Individuals with a prior refusal of a temporary resident visa, work permit, or study permit on the basis that the person was unlikely to leave Canada by the end of their authorized stay consequently become ineligible to hold an eTA and may have a previously issued eTA cancelled or inactivated.
  • Applicants who were previously issued an eTA and subsequently withdrew their application to enter Canada upon examination by an officer at a port of entry, or who become the subject of a removal order, also become ineligible to hold an eTA.
  • A person who has become the subject of a declaration from the Minister of Immigration that they may not become a temporary resident in cases where the Minister considers it is justified by public policy consideration, are unable to apply for either an eTA or a visa for up to 36 months.
  • Stateless individuals are unable to apply for an eTA and need to apply for a visitor visa to enter Canada.
  • Applicants who become permanent residents (PRs) of Canada are ineligible to apply for an eTA. eTA applications from Canadian PRs may either drop out of the automated process if they appear to be a PR or be manually reviewed by an officer who should subsequently contact the applicant to determine if they wish to relinquish their status or not if this is unclear. To travel and be able to return to Canada, Canadian PRs need a valid permanent residence card, or a permanent resident travel document that is generally only valid for one entry.
  • Canadian citizens, including those born abroad holding dual citizenship, cannot apply for an eTA to travel to Canada and require a valid Canadian passport to enter the country. Those without a Canadian passport with a flight to Canada scheduled in less than 10 days may apply for a special authorization. If they meet the eligibility criteria – including proof of citizenship and a valid non-Canadian passport from a visa-exempt country, among others – and are approved, this will enable them to board their flight and will be valid for only 4 days from the date of travel. Canadian-American dual citizens only need one of their passports to fly to Canada, but are recommended to travel with both.

Become a CILA Member

Become a member now!

Join a growing community of Canadian immigration lawyers, academics and law students.

Our Latest Articles