Canada exempts citizens of 13 countries from visitor visa

Article By Uglobal Staff

By Moustafa Daly

Canada immigration minister Sean Fraser has announced that citizens of 13 countries who meet certain criteria will now be exempt from having to apply for a visa when entering Canada. Instead, they will only need to obtain an electronic travel authorization (eTA), allowing them to stay in Canada for up to six months.

The countries are 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.

Any passport holder from these 13 countries can now enter Canada with an eTA given they either had a Canadian visa over the past decade, even if it’s no longer valid, or those who currently hold valid non-immigrant visas to the U.S.

Canada expects the decision would result in an additional C$160 million in tourism revenue from these countries over the next decade.

The impact of Canada’s decision on Caribbean CBI programs 

Among the 13 countries are three Caribbean island-nations with popular golden passport programs; namely Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Lucia.

These countries center their market strategies for their golden passport programs on the strength of their passports, which give their holders visa-free access to the Schengen Area, the UK, Hong Kong, Singapore, and commonwealth countries, among other desirable destinations.

Powerful passports, in addition to developed infrastructure and legal systems, enable these countries to make considerable revenue off of their citizenship-by-investment programs.

The Canadian decision could make their passports even more attractive.

“The value of some of the CBI passports just increased significantly overnight,” says Julien Tétrault, president of Quebec-based JTH Lawyers Inc., to Uglobal. “We welcome this news that has plenty of upsides and no downsides.”

Why is Canada extending visa exemption to these 13 countries? 

“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,” announced immigration minister Sean Fraser.

Over the next year, Canada also expects to receive 200,000 travellers from these 13 countries, meaning that the visa-exemption decision will ease visa applications backlog for Canada’s immigration authorities, shortening wait time for applicants from other regions or nationals from those countries who don’t meet the visa-exemption conditions. 

It will also make travelling to Canada much cheaper for those who meet the conditions, with the eTA costing C$7 to issue as opposed to the C$100 required to issue a visitor visa.

Canada is hopeful the move will boost its economy, mainly by making it easier for tourists to visit the country.

“This strategic move supports our visitor economy by injecting vitality into our local communities and creating countless job opportunities. Let us seize this opportunity to place our nation firmly on the global tourism map, all while building an economy that works for everyone,” said Randy Boissonnault, Canada’s tourism minister, in a statement.

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Uglobal Staff
Uglobal Staff, along with its peer-reviewed magazines and conferences series, focuses on the global investment immigration market, offering the latest trends and analyses. is a media platform built to provide professionals involved with global programs with the most comprehensive and credible sources of information in digital, print and seminar mediums. The platform was created out of the need for marketplace transparency and to more efficiently connect individuals interested in learning about the global programs - either as a potential capital source or as a solution for their immigration needs. The Uglobal publication collaborates with a network of leading experts and an authoritative board of advisors to uphold a high standard in all content delivered and events hosted by the organization.

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