On Tuesday this week in Winnipeg, Canada, Sean Fraser, the head of Ministry of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, made an appearance to provide an update on visa-free travel.
Air travellers from a list of 13 nations will be able to visit Canada without needing a Temporary Residence Visa.
However, this only applies to individuals from these countries who have had a Canadian visa in the past decade or who possess a valid non-immigrant visa from the United States.
The countries with eligible passport holders include: Philippines, Morocco, Panama, Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Seychelles, and Thailand.
According to Fraser, the Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has been striving to simplify, quicken, and lessen the cost of the pre-travel screening procedure.
This decision is anticipated to shift thousands of applications away from Canada’s visa workload, thereby enhancing the efficiency of IRCC’s visa processing operations.
A similar initiative was launched in Brazil back in 2017. The Minister highlighted the program’s success, as it boosted the number of visitors from Brazil by 40% and decreased the Sao Paulo IRCC office’s workload by 60%.
This shift allowed IRCC officers to focus more on complicated applications.
More than 50 countries have citizens who can enter Canada visa-free, but the majority need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) if they are arriving by air.
US citizens, unless they plan to work or study in Canada, don’t need an eTA or a visa to enter the country.
Citizens of countries that aren’t exempted from visa requirements must seek a Temporary Residence Visa (TRV), otherwise known as a visitor visa.
A TRV permits a person to stay in Canada for up to six months (this duration may vary for certain foreign nationals).
However, entry into Canada with a TRV doesn’t authorize the holder to work or study in Canada. At the point of entry, they may need to prove that their trip to Canada is temporary (for instance, tourism or visiting family).
Currently, IRCC is processing a backlog of TRV applications. Recent data from the IRCC reveal that half of the TRV applications are not being processed within the stipulated 14-day service standard.
The Minister acknowledged that the recent Public Service Alliance of Canada strike has affected TRV applications.
Fraser indicated that the strike, which lasted from April 19 to May 1, resulted in a delay in the processing of 100,000 applications.
However, he also expects that the IRCC will regain its pre-pandemic processing speed within the upcoming weeks or months.