New Canada travel requirement worry some residents

Callers to Wednesday’s edition of Voice of the People sounded their displeasure and alarm over that country’s new Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) requirement, with some linking the change to the country’s Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP).

The eTA is a new entry requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals travelling to Canada by air.

The authorisation is electronically linked to the applicant’s passport and will allow Canadian officials to screen travellers before they arrive on Canadian soil.

According to the Canadian immigration website, starting August 1, 2015, travellers will be able to apply for an eTA online, and as of March 15, 2016, travellers will need an eTA before they board a flight to Canada.

The application is completed online for a fee of $7 Cdn and authorisation is valid for five years or until the applicant’s passport expires.

The eTA is required for 100 countries, including Great Britain and several other Caribbean nations.

St. Kitts & Nevis, which also operates a CIP programme, had their VISA-free access to Canada revoked in November 2014. Some callers believe that the same could happen here soon and that this latest development is a warning.

“This is not just an overnight thing. I think the international community is looking at us, the Caribbean and recently Antigua. What our leaders are doing to us in an injustice and an indictment to the people of this country who love to travel or those who have to travel for emergencies,” one disgruntled caller said.

“There should be nobody at all who’s surprised about that development. In fact, I was just waiting for when the announcement was going to come out. This is just the beginning,” another said.

Not everyone attributed the new requirement to the CIP scheme, however.

“Canada is simply applying the biometric system the US put in place years ago. Let us deal with the situation as it is. What Canada is doing is protecting their borders and they have a right to do so.

“I am still baffled that politicians don’t realize the importance of a passport,” said another disgruntled caller. “I really have a difficulty with how flippantly the idea of a passport is being dealt with. The constitution makes certain provisions but we decide (or) some politician decides that we so want money that we’re going to huckster our passport.”

Sources close to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the department has not received any notice of the eTA requirement.

Calls to Foreign Affairs Minister Max Fernandez went unanswered.


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