ARCHIVED — Vol. 151, No. 9 — May 3, 2017

Warning This Web page has been archived on the Web.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Registration

SOR/2017-53 April 13, 2017

IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE PROTECTION ACT

Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations

P.C. 2017-376 April 13, 2017

Whereas, pursuant to subsection 5(2) (see footnote a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (see footnote b), the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness have caused a copy of the proposed Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, substantially in the annexed form, to be laid before each House of Parliament;

Therefore, His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, pursuant to subsections 5(1) and 11(1.01) (see footnote c) and sections 14 (see footnote d), 26 (see footnote e), 150 and 150.1 (see footnote f) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act b, makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.

Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations

Amendments

1 The Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (see footnote 1) are amended by adding the following after section 7:

Nationals of certain countries

7.01 (1) Despite subsection 7(1), a foreign national who is a citizen of one of the following countries and who is seeking to enter Canada by air may not enter Canada to remain on a temporary basis without first obtaining a temporary resident visa or an electronic travel authorization:

  • (a) Brazil;
  • (b) Bulgaria; and
  • (c) Romania.

Application for electronic travel authorization — conditions

(2) A foreign national referred to in subsection (1) may only make an application for an electronic travel authorization if they

  • (a) have held a temporary resident visa at any time during the 10-year period immediately preceding the day on which they make their application; or
  • (b) hold a valid United States nonimmigrant visa on the day on which they make their application.

2 Subsection 7.1(1) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

Electronic travel authorization

7.1 (1) A foreign national referred to in paragraph 7(2)(a) who is exempt from the requirement to obtain a temporary resident visa and who is seeking to enter Canada by air to remain on a temporary basis is, nevertheless, required to obtain an electronic travel authorization before entering Canada, unless they are exempted by subsection (3) from the requirement to obtain one.

3 (1) Subsection 12.04(4) of the Regulations is amended by striking out “and” at the end of paragraph (h) and by adding the following after that paragraph:

  • (h.1) in the case of a foreign national referred to in paragraph 7.01(2)(b), the valid United States nonimmigrant visa number; and

(2) Subsection 12.04(5) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

Combined applications — foreign nationals referred to in subsection 7.01(1)

(5) An application for a renewal of a work permit or study permit that is made by a foreign national referred to in subsection 7.01(1) is considered to constitute an application for an electronic travel authorization.

Combined applications — foreign nationals referred to in subsection 7.1(1)

(6) An application for a work permit or study permit or for renewal of a work permit or study permit that is made by a foreign national who is required under subsection 7.1(1) to obtain an electronic travel authorization is considered to constitute an application for an electronic travel authorization.

4 (1) Paragraph 12.05(a) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

  • (a) the day on which the applicant’s passport or other travel document, in respect of which the electronic travel authorization was issued, expires,

(2) Paragraph 12.05(c) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

  • (c) the day on which a new electronic travel authorization, in respect of the same passport or the same travel document, is issued to the applicant.

5 Section 12.06 of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

Ineligibility

12.06 A foreign national who holds an electronic travel authorization becomes ineligible to hold such an authorization if, following its issuance,

  • (a) they are the subject of a declaration made under subsection 22.1(1) of the Act;
  • (b) they were issued a temporary resident permit under subsection 24(1) of the Act;
  • (c) they are the subject of a report prepared under subsection 44(1) of the Act;
  • (d) they are the subject of a removal order made under subsection 44(2) or paragraph 45(d) of the Act;
  • (e) they withdrew their application to enter Canada under subsection 42(1);
  • (f) they were refused a temporary resident visa because they did not meet the requirement set out in paragraph 179(b);
  • (g) they were refused a work permit because they did not meet the requirement set out in paragraph 200(1)(b);
  • (h) they were refused a study permit because they did not meet the requirement set out in paragraph 216(1)(b); or
  • (i) in the case of a foreign national referred to in subsection 7.01(1), it is established that, on the day on which they made their application for an electronic travel authorization, they did not meet either of the conditions set out in paragraphs 7.01(2)(a) and (b).

Cancellation

12.07 An officer may cancel an electronic travel authorization that was issued to a foreign national if the foreign national is inadmissible or becomes ineligible to hold such an authorization under section 12.06.

6 Subparagraph 111(b)(i) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

  • (i) subject to section 7.01, a temporary resident visa, if such a visa is required under section 7, or

7 Paragraph 259(g) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

  • (g) an electronic travel authorization referred to in section 7.01 or 7.1.

8 (1) Paragraph 279(1)(a) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

  • (a) a foreign national who is inadmissible under section 41 of the Act for failing to meet the requirements of section 6, subsection 7(1), section 7.01 or 7.1 or subsection 50(1) or 52(1);

(2) Paragraphs 279(2)(c) and (d) of the Regulations are replaced by the following:

  • (c) a foreign national who does not hold an electronic travel authorization when one is required under section 7.01 or 7.1 and in respect of whom the Canada Border Services Agency did not give notice under section 270 to the commercial transporter before the foreign national was carried to Canada, but who holds one of the required prescribed documents set out in paragraphs 259(a) to (f); or
  • (d) a foreign national, other than a foreign national referred to in paragraph 190(3)(c), who seeks to enter Canada to obtain permanent residence and is inadmissible under paragraph 41(a) of the Act for failing to obtain a permanent resident visa as required under section 6, but who is exempted under Division 1 of Part 2 from the requirement to obtain an electronic travel authorization required under section 7.01 or 7.1 or exempted under Division 5 of Part 9 from the requirement to obtain a temporary resident visa.

9 Subsection 282(2.1) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

Elements considered

(2.1) In considering the submissions, the Minister must take into account whether the commercial transporter was, before the foreign national was carried to Canada, notified under section 270 that the foreign national may have been a person prescribed under section 258.1 or a person who did not hold an electronic travel authorization when one was required under section 7.01 or 7.1.

10 Subsection 294.1(2) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:

Exception

(2) A person whose application for a work permit or study permit or for renewal of a work permit or study permit is considered, as the case may be, under subsection 12.04(5) or (6), to constitute an application for an electronic travel authorization is not required to pay the fee referred to in subsection (1).

11 (1) Paragraphs 315.23(1)(a) and (b) of the Regulations are replaced by the following:

  • (a) to support an examination following an application made by a national of a third country to obtain a permanent or temporary resident visa, an electronic travel authorization, a work permit, a study permit, protected person status or another immigration benefit under federal immigration legislation;
  • (b) to support an examination or determination as to whether a national of a third country is authorized or not authorized to travel to, enter or remain in Canada or the United States, as the case may be;

(2) Subsection 315.23(2) of the Regulations is amended by adding “or” at the end of paragraph (c) and by adding the following after that paragraph:

  • (d) those who have been issued or denied a document required to enter Canada as a temporary resident.

Coming into Force

12 These Regulations come into force at 09:00 EDT on May 1, 2017.

REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT

(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)

Executive summary

Issues: At present, Canadian visa requirements are applied to all foreign nationals from a visa-required country, regardless of the risk posed by individual travellers. While this policy attempts to balance security with facilitation, it can contribute to bilateral irritants with key trading partners and important allies who are subject to a visa. The Government of Canada needs new tools to facilitate the entry of low-risk travellers from visa-required countries.

Description: The regulatory amendments expand electronic travel authorization (eTA) eligibility to travellers from Brazil, Bulgaria and Romania who have held a Canadian temporary resident visa at any time during the last 10 years, or who, at the time of application, hold a valid nonimmigrant visa from the United States. The amendments also enable a new immigration information-sharing connection with the United States to confirm the validity of a visa issued by the other country.

Cost-benefit statement: The cost associated with expanding eTA eligibility to low-risk travellers from visa-required countries and implementing visa validation with the United States, together with the potential increase in enforcement and asylum costs resulting from these changes, is expected to be approximately $12.1 million (present value [PV]) over 10 years (2017–2026). The offsetting benefits over the same period, resulting primarily from approximately 14 000 travellers per year, whose entry into Canada has been facilitated, are estimated at $135.7 million (PV). It is thus estimated that the impact on Canadians from expanding eTA eligibility will be $123.6 million (PV) in net benefits over the next 10 years. There will also be qualitative benefits, such as increased business and trade opportunities; easier access for foreign nationals from Brazil, Romania and Bulgaria to visit family and friends residing in Canada; and closer ties and cooperation that may result from improved bilateral relations between Canada and the European Union (of which Bulgaria and Romania are member states), as well as between Canada and Brazil.

“One-for-One” Rule and small business lens: The “One-for-One” Rule does not apply to this initiative, as there is no change in administrative costs to business. The small business lens does not apply since no costs will be imposed on small business.

Domestic and international coordination and cooperation: Expansion of eTA eligibility was announced in April 2015 and gained positive domestic and international media coverage. Where appropriate, eTA expansion has been discussed in various bilateral settings with the implicated countries, who are supportive of their inclusion in the program.

Background

In 2015, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) were amended to support the introduction of the electronic travel authorization (eTA). Implementation of the eTA was a key commitment of the Government of Canada as part of the Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness action plan.

The eTA is a new electronic document requirement for visa-exempt air travellers to Canada, excluding citizens of the United States. Travellers apply online for an eTA by providing basic biographical, passport and personal information. An automated system then compares this information against immigration and enforcement databases (held by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada [IRCC] and the Canada Border Services Agency [CBSA]) to determine if the traveller is admissible to Canada. The vast majority of applications are approved automatically, with a small percentage referred to an officer for review.

The eTA application form was made available to the general public on August 1, 2015, and became a mandatory requirement for entry to Canada on March 15, 2016.

The eTA is supported by CBSA’s Interactive Advance Passenger Information (IAPI) system as well as the Integrated Primary Inspection Line (IPIL) Air application. The IAPI system functions as the eTA’s main enforcement mechanism by flagging for airlines instances where a foreign national does not hold a prescribed document.

Canada has, for many years, closely collaborated with the United States on immigration and border issues. To improve immigration information sharing, new regulations were implemented in 2014 to enable some automated information sharing between Canada and the United States.

Issues

Canada’s visa policy framework is designed to ensure a balance between welcoming visitors to Canada and protecting the integrity of Canada’s immigration programs and public safety.

At present, decisions about visa requirements rely on a country-based risk management approach. Proposals to lift or impose a visa include a comprehensive country assessment that considers a full range of implications (e.g. migration concerns, risks to safety, benefits of a change, impacts on trade and bilateral relations). The result is that, with few exceptions, all foreign nationals from a visa-required country must apply for a visa to come to Canada.

This approach can create bilateral irritants with key trading partners and allies. Moreover, screening that is principally based on visa requirements for a given nationality can be insufficiently nimble to reflect changes in terms of economic opportunity and individualized risk within a country (e.g. trade relationships, presence of low-risk repeat business travellers and tourists from visa-required countries). It also imposes a large burden on travellers.

With the introduction of the eTA, IRCC has expanded the number of policy options at its disposal to manage temporary migration. While introduced as a tool to screen travellers from visa-exempt countries, the eTA is recognized for its potential as a facilitative tool for select travellers from visa-required countries. The imposition of a visa affects all travellers from that country, regardless of the risk posed by the individual. Electronic travel authorizations are part of a trend in migration management whereby technology and automation are increasingly used to screen individual travellers proportionate to the risk they pose.

Canada’s implementation of the eTA has therefore created significant expectation that every effort will be made to accelerate our ability to facilitate low-risk travellers from visa-required countries in the same manner as visa-exempt travellers. Consequently, in 2015, the Government of Canada announced that eTA eligibility would be expanded to include low-risk foreign nationals from the visa-required countries of Brazil, Bulgaria and Romania. For the purposes of expanded eTA eligibility, low-risk travellers are defined as those who have held a Canadian temporary resident visa (TRV) at any time during the last 10 years, or who, at the time of application, hold a valid U.S. nonimmigrant visa.

Effective implementation of expanded eTA eligibility must balance travel facilitation objectives with the need to maintain the integrity of the immigration program. This includes ensuring that only those who meet established eligibility criteria are, when travelling to Canada by air, able to apply for an eTA, namely travellers who have held a Canadian TRV in the last 10 years, or who, at the time of application, hold a valid U.S. nonimmigrant visa, and that others are directed to the visa process. Canada needs the capacity to validate U.S. visas in an automated manner. To preserve quick processing times while ensuring the integrity of the program, a new automated information-sharing capacity is needed with the United States to verify visa validity. Existing information-sharing regulations are amended to clarify Canada’s authority to obtain this information from the United States in an automated manner in the context of an eTA application and also to enable Canada to provide positive visa information to the United States.

Objectives

The overall objective of these amendments is to facilitate legitimate travel and promote Canadian tourism while continuing to protect the integrity of Canada’s borders by tailoring screening and resources based on the risks posed by individual travellers.

Facilitating legitimate travel to Canada and promoting Canadian tourism: The amendments are expected to help make Canada a more attractive destination for tourism and business. The eTA’s expanded eligibility will benefit low-risk, repeat visitors to Canada (i.e. business people, tourists, family) from select key markets (Brazil, Bulgaria and Romania) who currently must apply for a new visa each time their previous visa expires.

These amendments also benefit nationals of Brazil, Bulgaria and Romania travelling by air to the United States when transiting through Canada. When travelling by air, visitors from these countries who have been issued a U.S. visa will find it easier and less costly to add Canada as a destination or as a transit point, which will help to improve the competitiveness of Canadian airports.

Maintaining program integrity: Expansion of the eTA will provide screening proportionate to the risk posed by eligible travellers. For previous Canadian visa holders, IRCC will have already processed and approved an application from the traveller, thereby providing assurances that the individual presents a lower immigration risk than other, unknown travellers. Possession of a valid U.S. nonimmigrant visa is also an indicator that a traveller presents lower levels of risk, as the traveller will have successfully undergone screening by a trusted partner. Given Canada’s close relationship with the United States, this presents an acceptable assurance that a traveller can be screened through the eTA instead of a full visa process.

It is also important to ensure that the application of the eTA as a facilitative measure performs as expected, and that it is capable of screening otherwise visa-required travellers over and above the volumes of visa-exempt travellers already using the system. The regulatory amendments ensure that the initial expansion is implemented with a targeted, but strategically important, segment of the visa-required population.

By tailoring screening requirements based on the risks posed by individual travellers, the Government will also be able to focus resources on higher-risk travellers. Reducing the processing workload for IRCC officers will allow them to focus more time on complex visa applications, thereby increasing IRCC’s oversight capacity to improve the safety and security of Canadians.

Description

As of May 1, 2017, the IRPR are amended to permit foreign nationals from Brazil, Bulgaria and Romania to apply for an eTA for travel to Canada by air if they meet any of the following conditions:

  • they have held a Canadian temporary resident visa at any time during the last 10 years prior to their application; or
  • at the time of application, they hold a valid U.S. nonimmigrant visa.

eTA-eligible clients will benefit from a reduced fee ($7 for an eTA compared to $100 for a TRV), faster processing (automated versus manual processing), and minimal administrative burden (no passports or other documents submitted with the application in most cases). Foreign nationals who are citizens of Brazil, Bulgaria and Romania, but do not meet the eligibility criteria, or are travelling by land or sea, will still be required to apply for a temporary resident visa.

The IRPR are also amended to clarify Canada’s authority to send a biographic query to the United States in an automated manner when an eTA expansion application is received from an applicant who indicates that they hold a U.S. nonimmigrant visa. Additionally, in keeping with the reciprocal nature of our information-sharing relationship with the United States, regulations that currently limit Canada’s ability to disclose information about the validity of a Canadian visa to the United States have been updated. This will allow Canada to provide information in an automated manner about the validity of a Canadian temporary resident entry document when the United States sends queries.

Finally, the IRPR are amended to make some technical changes to ensure that the authorities for the eTA program operate as intended. Some technical issues were identified during the development of the eTA program following the implementation of the Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (SOR/2015-77) published on April 22, 2015, in the Canada Gazette, Part II.

These technical amendments

  • amend the provision that states an eTA expires when a new eTA is issued to the applicant. This enables a traveller to hold valid eTAs associated to multiple passports, such as in the case where a foreign national has multiple passports from the same country (a regular and diplomatic passport for example), or dual nationals of multiple visa-exempt countries;
  • clarify when an eTA can be cancelled. While this section already provides a general authority for an officer to cancel an eTA when an eTA holder has become inadmissible, the amendment expands this authority to include the ability to cancel an eTA when the foreign national holding the eTA becomes ineligible to do so, such as when an inadmissibility report is prepared, when the foreign national is issued a Temporary Resident Permit under subsection 24(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, when the foreign national is the subject of a removal order, when the foreign national withdraws their application to enter Canada, or when the foreign national is denied an immigration application for a prescribed reason; and
  • enable the issuance of a new eTA when an existing work or study permit is renewed in Canada, similar to how an eTA is issued at the time of initial work or study permit issuance, thereby facilitating the travel of low-risk foreign nationals.

Regulatory and non-regulatory options considered

The IRPR required that all foreign nationals entering Canada on a temporary basis hold a visa, unless otherwise exempt. The regulatory amendments permit certain eligible foreign nationals, seeking to enter Canada by air, to apply for an eTA.

Similarly, the IRPR listed several purposes for which Canada may send an automated query to the United States. Adding eTA applicants to this list clarifies Canada’s authority and adds transparency.

Additionally, the IRPR limited Canadian disclosure of information pursuant to a biographic query to specific circumstances which do not include the validation of Canadian visa information. The regulatory amendments establish a reciprocal information-sharing relationship with the United States.

Benefits and costs

The cost-benefit analysis (CBA) starts from a baseline scenario, defined as the scenario that would occur if the status quo were maintained: where all travellers from Brazil, Bulgaria and Romania would continue to be required to obtain a visa unless otherwise exempt. The baseline is compared with the regulatory amendments, which will, on May 1, 2017, expand eTA eligibility to travellers from Brazil, Bulgaria and Romania who have held a TRV in the last 10 years or who, at the time of application, hold a valid U.S. nonimmigrant visa. Of note, an eTA may only be used when entering Canada by air. Consequently, travellers entering Canada from land and sea ports will continue to require a visa.

The first year of impacts will be in 2017, noting that impacts are prorated for a May 1, 2017 program launch. Therefore, all implementation, development and transition costs as well as enforcement costs and tourism benefits are assumed to commence in 2017. All monetized costs and benefits are expressed in constant 2015 dollars.

Overall, Canadians will not carry any costs associated with the processing of an eTA application, as this process is fully cost recovered from foreign nationals through an application fee. However, Canadians will carry IT costs associated with implementing the necessary infrastructure to support expanding eTA eligibility and the visa validation connection with the United States. The Government will also incur increased enforcement costs associated with the risk that additional asylum and inland enforcement cases would result due to higher volumes of arrivals. Nevertheless, facilitation of low-risk travellers to Canada will allow for quicker processing times for those who are eligible and is expected to attract new travellers who otherwise would not have visited Canada for business or leisure or to visit friends and family.

Facilitated travellers (those who will be incentivized to visit Canada due to expanded eTA eligibility) are a key variable in the cost-benefit analysis. In estimating the number of facilitated travellers, IRCC applied historical visa application data for each country as well as industry forecasts of air travel demand to Canada to establish baseline volumes from Brazil, Romania and Bulgaria. Recognizing that this is the first visa facilitation measure of its kind undertaken by the Department, the analysis relied on proxies from visa lifts, pilot programs and expert review to form the estimate of how many additional travellers would be incentivized to apply for an eTA. The methodology assumed that, in 2017, there will be 20% more eTA applications than in the baseline forecasts of those who will apply under the eTA expansion. The 20% surge factor is based on visa lift data which shows that, on average, in the first year following a visa lift, traveller volumes increase anywhere from 19% in Poland (2008) to 37% in Hungary (2008). A conservative estimate of a 20% surge, validated by missions, for one year only was applied. From 2018 onwards, the effect is reduced to 15%. The 15% is based on mission validation, visa lift volume trends as well as analysis from departmental efforts to facilitate TRV processing in certain countries, which provided some insight into the impact of streamlining visa processing impacts on demand for travel. Overall, the analysis estimates that more than 14 000 visitors per year will travel to Canada due to expanded eTA eligibility (for the purposes of the CBA, this figure does not include all possible travellers, such as those arriving for short-term studies or returning students).

The costs associated with implementing the new program include delivering communication products to ensure the new program is effectively marketed, costs for maintenance of IT infrastructure to expand eTA eligibility and allow visa validation with the United States, and the expected rise in inland enforcement and asylum costs that could result from increased volumes of visitors (facilitated travellers). Total costs are estimated at $12.1 million (PV) over 10 years.

The offsetting benefit in additional tourism spending from new visitors, that otherwise would not have come to Canada had it not been for expanded eTA eligibility, is estimated at $135.7M (PV) over 10 years. This benefit assumes that, on average, an overseas visitor to Canada will spend $1,638 per trip (in 2015 dollars) for leisure or business travel, and $799 if they are here to visit friends and family (e.g. spending on accommodations, restaurant meals, consumer goods and leisure activities). Overseas visitor spending per trip is sourced from The Canadian Airport Council’s Final Report on “The Economic Impact of the Air Transportation Industry” published in April 2013, and is further substantiated by Destination Canada’s “Where we market Canada,” current trends and market considerations for Brazil, available at www. DestinationCanada.com.

The analysis demonstrates that expanded eTA eligibility, in reducing impediments to travel to Canada for low-risk travellers, will generate monetized benefits to the Canadian economy in the form of additional tourism spending. These benefits are expected to be greater than the cost of implementation, ongoing IT support and increased risk of asylum and inland enforcement. There will also be qualitative benefits, including improved overall integrity of the visa program due to a shift in workload for IRCC visa officers from low-risk application processing to focusing on more complex visa applications; increased business and trade opportunities due to easier access for low-risk business travellers; a simplified process for those eligible to visit their family and friends residing in Canada; indirect impacts from increased air travel to Canada such as higher demand to transit through Canada and improved aviation connections; and closer ties and cooperation that may result from improved bilateral relations between Canada and the European Union members (with Bulgaria and Romania as member states) as well as Brazil.

For more detailed analysis, a CBA methodology chapter is available upon request.

Cost-benefit statement

Costs, benefits and distribution Base Year 2017 Year Five 2021 Final Year 2026 Total Annualized
Average
(see footnote 2)

A. QUANTIFIED IMPACTS in millions of dollars, PV

Benefits

Stakeholders

         

Tourism benefit

Canadian economy /
tourism industry

14.6M

13.9M

11.5M

135.7M

19.3M

TOTAL BENEFITS

14.6M

13.9M

11.5M

135.7M

19.3M

Costs

Stakeholders

         

Transition / IT set up / ongoing maintenance costs

Government of Canada
(IRCC, CBSA and Shared Services)

3.6M

0.7M

0.5M

9.8M

1.4M

Enforcement costs (port of entry and in-land)

Government of Canada
(IRCC and CBSA)

0.3M

0.2M

0.2M

2.3M

0.3M

TOTAL COSTS

3.9M

0.9M

0.7M

12.1M

1.7M

Net benefits (net present value)

$123.6M

$17.6M

B. QUALITATIVE IMPACTS

Qualitative benefits

Stakeholders

Description of benefits

Easier access and opportunity for foreign nationals to visit family and friends residing in Canada

Canadian citizens / permanent residents residing in Canada

There is a benefit to Canadian permanent residents (PRs) and Canadian citizens who have family members in these three countries. Expanding eTA eligibility provides better access to their extended families, in that the ability for friends and family to visit Canadian PRs and citizens will become easier and less costly.

Public security benefits

Canadians / Government of Canada

Expanding eTA eligibility reduces the processing workload for IRCC visa officers, allowing them to focus more time on complex visa applications, thereby increasing IRCC’s oversight capacity to improve safety and security for Canadians.

Qualitative benefits

Stakeholders

Description of benefits

Improved bilateral relations

Canadians / Government of Canada

Bilateral relations with key trading partners (Brazil and the European Union) will be improved as visa screening shifts towards screening tailored to individual risk.

Easier, cheaper and simplified process for foreign nationals

Foreign nationals from Brazil, Romania and Bulgaria

eTA eligibility benefits low-risk, repeat visitors to Canada who previously had to apply for a new visa each time their previous visa expired. Extending eTA eligibility significantly improves facilitation with its reduced fee ($7 compared to $100), faster processing, and minimal administrative burden (no passports or other documents submitted with the application in most cases, unless referred to an officer).

This increased facilitation also benefits nationals who travel to the United States and/or transit through Canada. Visitors from these countries, who have been issued a U.S. visa, will find it easier and cheaper to add Canada as a destination.

Indirect economic impacts on the economy

Canadian economy /
business

The potential exists for increased spending on transportation to and within Canada generating an impact on the transportation/aviation industry, as well as indirect impacts such as improved aviation connections, increased transit demand at Canadian airports, and improved business and trade opportunities.

Additional costs at land and sea ports of entry

Government of Canada

An eTA is an acceptable document for entry to Canada in the air mode only. There may be additional costs to the CBSA to manage entry for travellers seeking to enter Canada at land and sea ports with an eTA, rather than the required visa. IRCC will inform all eTA applicants of this important distinction through communication products.

Values reported above differ slightly from prepublication due to a change in the coming into force of the Regulations to May 1, 2017.

Business and consumer impacts

Relative to other stakeholders, the business community in Canada will benefit the most from increased visa facilitation, as it is expected to bring more tourists and business opportunities, along with increased trade. The Canadian tourism and aviation sectors in particular will benefit, as travellers are incentivized to travel to Canada, add Canada as a destination, or use Canadian airports to transit to the United States.

Overall, the impact on the Canadian economy will be $135.7 million (PV) over 10 years in additional tourism spending from travellers who would otherwise not have travelled to Canada. These travellers whose travel has been facilitated are expected to spend money at Canadian hotels, restaurants, and shops. There are further benefits that have not been explicitly monetized in the CBA analysis above, such as increased spending by travellers whose travel has been facilitated on transportation both to and within Canada, which will have an impact on the aviation industry as well as on other transportation modes. Other indirect impacts include improved aviation connections, increased transit demand at Canadian airports, improved business and trade opportunities for Canadians and improved bilateral relations.

Distributional impacts

Expansion of eTA eligibility involves front-end set-up costs associated with building IT infrastructure to support eTA expansion: principally to validate visas with the United States, as well as to maintain that infrastructure over time. Because the program involves replacement of a visa requirement with a light-touch eTA screening, there is a risk that some foreign nationals could find it easier to enter Canada for the purposes of claiming asylum. As well, due to the expected uptake of the program, the analysis assumes that individuals who would have otherwise not applied to come to Canada would now be encouraged to acquire an eTA due to its light-touch, online nature. This could result in increased arrivals generating added costs at primary and secondary inspection at air ports of entry as well as a corresponding increase in inland enforcement that naturally occurs with increased visitor volumes. All costs associated with IT development and maintenance, and the management of the risks associated with increased enforcement, fall disproportionately to the Government, namely IRCC, CBSA, and Shared Services Canada. These costs are estimated at $12.1M (PV) over 10 years.

“One-for-One” Rule

The “One-for-One” Rule does not apply to this initiative, as there would be no change in administrative costs to business.

Small business lens

The small business lens does not apply to this initiative, as there would be no additional administrative burden or compliance costs to small business.

Consultation

Air and tourism industry stakeholders have advocated for IRCC to liberalize entry requirements for foreign nationals from these key markets: Brazil, Bulgaria and Romania. Canada’s visa policy, in the industry’s view, unduly restricts market growth opportunities. The tourism industry in particular has advocated heavily for the elimination of visa requirements for the Brazilian market.

The proposal for eTA expansion was announced in April 2015 and gained positive domestic and international media coverage. eTA expansion was discussed in various bilateral settings with the implicated countries. The countries selected for this proposed expansion of the eTA program are supportive of their inclusion.

IRCC prepublished proposed Regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on November 5, 2016, to inform the public of proposed amendments to expand eTA eligibility to select travellers from Brazil, Bulgaria and Romania, as well as to enable a new immigration information-sharing connection with the U.S. to confirm the validity of a visa.

IRCC received one response to the prepublished Regulations during the 30-day comment period that expressed general support of the initiative given its facilitative nature, but communicated the view that the eTA was sufficient to screen all travellers from the eligible countries, not only those eligible under this amendment. By way of response, Canada continuously monitors country conditions and migration trends to assess whether changes to the list of visa-exempt countries are warranted.

The response also reiterated concerns related to the eTA program in general, including information sharing with the U.S., the length of time records are stored, and the impacts of health-related questions on the eTA application form. By way of response, IRCC strives to ensure that the privacy of applicants is protected. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has provided input underlining the importance of carefully considering the data elements to be collected in the eTA application, including the health-related questions, and any onward disclosure of personal information. IRCC has put in place firm controls on the access, use and disclosure of eTA information and has addressed these concerns in a privacy impact assessment of the eTA program. In addition, eTA expansion-specific factors will be addressed in an addendum to the eTA program’s privacy impact assessment, including the information sharing component with the U.S., prior to the Regulations coming into force on May 1, 2017.

Rationale

The IRPR required that all foreign nationals entering Canada on a temporary basis hold a visa, unless otherwise exempted. The amendments permit low-risk travellers from Brazil, Bulgaria and Romania, seeking to enter Canada by air, to be eligible to apply for an eTA. Expansion of eTA eligibility leverages the eTA program to facilitate travel of low-risk foreign nationals from visa-required countries in the near term as the Government of Canada continues to enhance automated screen tools and develop and implement other forms of facilitation. It provides a key building block for additional facilitative measures in the future.

The amendments to the IRPR concerning automated information sharing with the United States allow IRCC to ensure that, in expanding eligibility for the eTA program to select visa-required foreign nationals, travel facilitation objectives are balanced with the need to ensure the program is not exploited by ineligible individuals seeking to circumvent the more intensive visa screening process. The changes also ensure that Canada’s important international information-sharing relationships are managed in a consistent manner.

Implementation, enforcement and service standards

Implementation

IRCC will implement these changes at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on May 1, 2017. Key implementation activities focus on ensuring that IRCC and its partners are resourced to manage the additional volumes of travellers added to the eTA system. IRCC has worked with delivery partners to develop clear roles and responsibilities and to ensure that coordination and communication are priorities.

A targeted, proactive communications plan will be implemented in Canada and in the affected countries to ensure low-risk travellers and travel agents are aware of this change.

Enforcement

Enforcement of the eTA requirement is supported by the CBSA’s IAPI system and the Integrated Primary Inspection Line Air application. IAPI serves as a validation mechanism for all eTA clients by communicating to airlines whether passengers are properly documented for travel to Canada before they board a plane.

Service standards

Applications resulting from expanded eTA eligibility will be screened and enforced like any other eTA application. It is expected that the majority of applicants will receive an eTA system response within minutes.

Performance measurement and evaluation

Approved performance measurement strategies for the eTA program are already in place. Ongoing monitoring and reporting of the expansion activities will take place to ensure that the initiative is on track to achieve expected outcomes.

A formal evaluation of the eTA program is currently planned to begin in 2017–2018 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2018–2019. Early results of eTA expansion will be included within the formal eTA evaluation. In addition to the formal evaluation, IRCC will conduct an internal review of the eTA expansion project one year after its implementation.

Contact

David Beal
Director
Visa Innovation and Document Policy
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
180 Kent Street, 8th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 1L1
Email: david.beal@cic.gc.ca

  • Footnote a
    S.C. 2008, c. 3, s. 2
  • Footnote b
    S.C. 2001, c. 27
  • Footnote c
    S.C. 2012, c. 31, s. 308
  • Footnote d
    S.C. 2014, c. 20, s. 301
  • Footnote e
    S.C. 2013, c. 16, s. 11
  • Footnote f
    S.C. 2014, c. 39, s. 313
  • Footnote 1
    SOR/2002-227
  • Footnote 2
    Projects with different time horizons (e.g. 10 years versus 15 years) require some adjustments before their net present values can be compared. The “annualized average” is a useful economic measure that converts the net benefits of a project to constant annual values spread uniformly through the life of the project (e.g. $1,000 in Year 1, $1,000 in Year 2, $1,000 in Year 3, etc.). This method of converting net benefits of projects to annualized values enables direct comparisons among alternative projects with different time horizons allowing net benefits that occur in different time periods to be measured on a consistent basis.