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Ask Tito Mike by Michael Scott  

The Philippines is now an eTA eligible country

by Michael Scott

This is the most exciting story that has hit the immigration pages in a long time. The phones have not stopped ringing with calls about the immigration minister’s announcement of June 6, 2023. Yes, it is true that Minister Sean Fraser announced the addition of 13 countries to the electronic travel authorization (eTA) program and the Philippines is on the list. Travelers from these countries, who have either held a Canadian temporary resident visa (TRV) in the last 10 years or currently hold a valid United States, non-immigrant visa, can now apply for an eTA instead of a visa when travelling to Canada by air.

Eligible travellers from Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Costa Rica, Morocco, Panama, Philippines, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago and Uruguay can now apply for an eTA.

For eligible persons the ease of visa-free air travel to Canada will make it faster and more affordable for thousands of travellers to visit Canada for up to six months for tourism or business. The country’s economy has been stagnating since the pandemic and the addition of the thirteen countries will not only increase the number of visitors but also reduce thousands of applications from the visa caseload. Once again this is a reminder that the change is positive for designated travellers from back home, but the Philippines is still a visa-required country. We can, however, have hope that the change effective on June 6, 2023, will be expanded to all travellers from the Philippines and the other twelve countries. This would be a godsend for many families and individuals who are considering travel to Canada.

What about travellers inside the country or those who already have a valid visa, for the life of their passport? Those who are not eligible for the eTA or those traveling to Canada not by air, such as by car, bus, train, or boat, including cruise ship, will still require a tourist visa. If you have any questions about your eligibility, you can check to find out if you are eligible.

Minister Fraser can rightly be proud of the change he announced. “This exciting development means that more individuals from around the world can now embark on unforgettable adventures, explore our diverse landscapes, reunite with family and friends, and immerse themselves in our vibrant culture without the hurdle of visa requirements,” Minister Fraser explained. “This expansion not only enhances convenience for travellers, it will also increase travel, tourism and economic benefits, as well as strengthen global bonds with these 13 countries.”

There is cause for celebration but first a warning that only some visitors from back home are now eligible for the eTA. We should be aware that the eTA is a digital travel document that most visa-exempt travellers need in order to transit or travel through Canada by air. The eTA application process allows Canadian officials to conduct pre-travel screening of air travellers. It is inexpensive and costs only CAN $7.00 to apply and most applications will be completed online within minutes. In order to apply, travellers need a valid passport, a credit card, an email address, and access to the Internet. Our immigration department expects Canada to increase the number of visitors to the country by 200,000 or more from the 13 countries with an additional tourism revenue of $160 million.

The initial excitement among the Philippines expatriate community is an indication of the popularity of the eTA, with over 20.9 million being issued since 2015. Your eligible family and friends may now be added to this list if they intend to travel by air to Canada and have visited Canada within the last ten years or hold a valid US travel document. Canada also experimented with expanding the eTA eligibility for travellers from Romania and Bulgaria in 2017. It should be noted that the initial limited offer to travellers from those countries was later expanded to include all citizens. Our hope is this change will also take place for citizens of the Philippines and Thailand for example.

The ease of traveling to Canada without visa requirements explains the rapid spread of information about the June 6, 2023, change but it comes with a caution. The Philippines is still a visa required country for many travellers. Check to ensure that your loved ones qualify but smile because this change, even though a modest one, is good for visitors from the Philippines and the economy and residents of Canada.

Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Immigration Canada and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with Immigration Connexion International Ltd. Contact him at 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail: