ETA, or Electronic Travel Authorization is an entry requirement for Visa- exempt foreign nationals who are travelling to Canada by air. It is basically a pre-screening that is done online for people coming from many countries across the world, who are wanting to travel to Canada by air without a Visa. Traveler to Canada from the qualified countries were able to use this facility as early as 1st August 2015.
What is an ETA?
ETA is an online application which you need to fill and attach to your passport. This form requires you to fill in basic information, most of which you can find in your passport, such as your first name, last name, date of birth, passport issue date and so on. Once you submit this application, you will receive an ETA within a few minutes, and this approval gets linked to your passport online. So, when you book a flight to Canada, the flight will check and ensure you have the ETA and only then allow you to board your flight. This is valid for a period of up to 5 years. Canadian residents will not require an ETA, however those citizens who have an expired Permit Residence card will also require this.
Benefits of ETA
This ETA helps in basic screening of people from the visa-exempt individuals who might otherwise skip the basic screening as they come from visa-exempt countries.
ETA is designed to to help catch people who might pose a security risk or to catch people who might stay in the country longer than is legally permissible, as these travelers don’t go through the formal vetting process required by those who need to get a visa.
It’s essentially a “basic pre-screening of visa-exempt individuals who might not otherwise have this screening done,” Henry Chang, an immigration lawyer in Canada said.
US has implemented this process for travelers from qualified countries and UK is following suit. In the US, this process is also known as Electronic System for Travel Authorization or ESTA and is housed as part of the Department of Homeland Security. This facility is available to people from 39 countries. This is an automated system which determines the eligibility of people visiting US under the Visa Waiver Program or VWP. ESTA came into existence as of 2009 and this is valid for a period of two years from the date of issue. People who use ESTA travel under the Visa Waiver Program or VWP. Authorization under ESTA does not guarantee the traveler the right to enter the country and this will be decided by the US Customs and Border Protection Officer at the port of entry. It is advisable for travelers to submit this application before they decide on the dates for travel and book their tickets.
UK implements ETA, impact of ETA on Brexit
UK ETA is a visa waiver program that enables qualified citizens to travel to the United Kingdom without the need to apply for a visa. People can use this facility for the following categories, including business, tourism, health and education. This is a single-entry permit and is valid for a period of 6 months. First implemented in 2014, this was done with the intention of making travel easier, faster and less cumbersome. This removed the need to apply for a visa in-person at a near-by consulate. At present, this facility is available to citizens of 4 middle eastern countries. Brexit has compelled traveler from EU countries who earlier did not need visa/permission of any kind to visit UK to use the ETA once the exit is formalized. Citizens from qualified countries use the online application to process their request. Personal details along with passport and travel information is needed to fill the form. Questions related to security also need to be answered. Post the submission, the information is processed and on meeting the basic minimum requirements, the approved e-visa will be sent by email to the traveler.
Benefits of implementing ETA include swifter processing, does not need the traveller to be physically present at a consulate and needs a fewer documentation. This saves effort for the visa office, at the same time also benefits the traveller for the same reasons.