By: Seli Baisie
The Canadian government has introduced a new immigration policy that grants visa-free travel from 13 new countries, including five in the Caribbean.
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser on Tuesday, June 6, 2023 opened the countries to the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) program.
Under the revised regulations, travelers from these 13 countries are eligible for visa-free entry into Canada, provided they meet certain criteria.
Firstly, individuals must have held a Canadian visa within the past 10 years, demonstrating their previous travel experience and familiarity with Canadian immigration procedures.
Alternatively, travelers can qualify if they possess a valid United States non-immigrant visa when embarking on their journey to Canada via air travel.
The countries benefiting from Canada’s visa-free policy are:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Costa Rica
- St. Kitts and Nevis
- St. Lucia
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Sean Fraser, explained that the expansion of the electronic travel authorization (eTA) programme aims to facilitate the seamless entry of “known travelers” from the aforementioned countries, whether for leisure or business purposes.
This development not only enhances convenience but also promotes increased travel, tourism, economic benefits, and stronger global connections among the 13 countries involved.
Minister Fraser emphasised the financial advantages for “known travelers” from these nations, as the visa exemptions can result in substantial cost savings. Currently, a visitor visa costs $100 per person or $500 for a family of five or more. In contrast, an eTA only costs seven dollars per person and remains valid for up to five years.
The introduction of visa-free air travel by Canada is aimed at streamlining and expediting the process for thousands of visitors who intend to spend up to six months in the country for leisure or business purposes.
By expanding the eTA program, Canada aims to foster enhanced connectivity, bolster economic ties, and facilitate a seamless travel experience for qualified individuals.