As of December 1, 2016, Mexican nationals will no longer be required to apply for a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) in order to enter Canada for temporary visits, work, or study. Instead, citizens of Mexico will need to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) before travelling to Canada by air. In preparation for this change, the government of Canada has announced that as of November 25, 2016, Mexican nationals may apply in advance for an eTA.
The eTA process, as compared to the process of applying for a TRV, is typically a simpler and cheaper process. Mexico will join other countries around the world that have an agreement with Canada whereby its citizens do not need to apply for a visa before visiting Canada.
Visa-exempt individuals who wish to enter Canada by air are now required to obtain an eTA before they board their flight. This system was first introduced in August, 2015, and became mandatory on November 20, 2016 after a lengthy leniency period came to an end.
An eTA is an electronic document linked to an individual passport. The application process is completely online, though a paper application may be made in certain cases. Once an individual receives their eTA, it is valid for five years or until the individual’s passport expires, whichever occurs first. The process is usually fast — the eTA may be approved within minutes — although it is recommended that travellers apply in advance of their flight in order to avoid delays. Already, certain travellers have been taken unawares and have missed flights because the application process took longer than expected.
The government of Canada has clarified that Mexican nationals will need a TRV to enter Canada until December 1, 2016, and should not attempt to enter Canada with an eTA before the visa requirement is lifted at 12:01am Eastern Standard Time on that date.
As of December 1, 2016, Mexican nationals travelling to Canada by air will require an eTA in order to board their flight. Mexican nationals entering Canada by land or sea need only present their travel document (i.e. a passport) at the Port of Entry into Canada. The government of Canada has stated that Mexican nationals with an existing valid TRV do not need to also obtain an eTA in order to enter Canada. However, after an individual's TRV expires, he or she will need to apply for an eTA in order to enter Canada again, if travelling by air.
“Being able to apply early for their eTA provides Mexicans travelling to Canada with time to get the travel document they need, to take full advantage of their anticipated visa-free status in the immediate days after the visa lift,” said Pierre Alarie, Canada’s Ambassador to Mexico.
Reasons for lifting the visa requirement
The visa requirement, imposed in 2009, has been a source of irritation between Mexico and Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau coordinated the lifting of the requirement in an effort to improve relations, travel, and trade between Canada and Mexico.
Trudeau has previously stated that “This move will make it easier for our Mexican friends to visit Canada while growing our local economies and strengthening our communities.”
He also mentioned that, “Canada is pleased to deliver on the government’s commitment to lift the visa requirement for Mexican nationals. We look forward to the social and economic benefits that lifting the visa requirement will bring to both countries, especially to the middle class here in Canada.”
In return for Canada lifting the visa requirement, Mexico has agreed to end the restrictions on the importation of Canadian beef, one of Canada’s key export commodities.