Electronic Travel Authorization system experiencing technical difficulties

21 Jan 16

CANADA

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Canada’s new Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) system for visa-waived nationals is experiencing technical difficulties that are preventing Israeli nationals from applying for an online eTA.

What does the change mean? The system becomes mandatory March 15. Until the problem is fixed, Israeli nationals may rely on their visa-waived status and travel to Canada with an Israeli passport. All other eligible nationalities are encouraged to apply for an eTA before the system becomes mandatory.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Electronic Travel Authorization.
  • Who is affected: Israeli nationals applying for an eTA.
  • Impact on processing times: The technical difficulties have periodically affected applicants and delayed eTA processing, usually by only a few hours. At this time, Israeli nationals are unable to apply for an eTA.
  • Business impact: Israeli nationals traveling to Canada should be aware of the technical issue, and should attempt to apply in mid-February when the problem is expected to be resolved. If the problem persists beyond March 15, they may be required to obtain a visa at a Canadian consulate.

Background: The Electronic Travel Authorization will replace the visa waiver for foreign nationals currently exempt from having to obtain a visitor visa to Canada. The system launched in August and has experienced periodic technical difficulties in the transition, which has caused minor delays in applying for an eTA.

Beginning March 15, visa-waived nationals traveling to Canada by air will be required to have an eTA before boarding their flight. U.S. citizens are exempt and will be able to enter Canada with proof of citizenship.

Currently, Israeli nationals are unable to apply because of a technical system issue. According to a spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (formerly Citizenship and Immigration Canada), the agency is working on the problem and hopes to have it fixed by mid-February. In the meantime, Israeli passport holders planning to travel to Canada may continue to rely on their visa-exempt status.

Travelers may visit the eTA website for the list of nationals required to obtain an eTA.

BAL Analysis: The technical difficulties are a reminder to travelers not to wait until the last minute to apply for an eTA, as there may be a flood of applicants close to the March 15 deadline, and delays or technical difficulties with the new system could arise.   

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Canada. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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