Am I eligible to apply for a Canada eTA if I have a health condition?

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Am I eligible to apply for a Canada eTA if I have a health condition?

If you are from a visa-waiver country, you might be able to visit Canada with an eTA. You will, however, have to meet all the relevant admissibility requirements before being allowed entry into the country. Your application can fail on several grounds, including medical inadmissibility. This applies to everybody who wants to visit, work, or study in Canada or who wants to live there permanently.

When it comes to medical inadmissibility, there are three potential reasons why your eTA application might be denied:

  • With your health condition, you might endanger the country’s public health.
  • If the condition is contagious, you could also be regarded as a threat to public safety.
  • It could place an unreasonable demand on social or health services.

The decision on whether or not your health condition represents a threat to the country’s public health will be based on the outcome of your medical examination, plus a few other issues.

The following factors will be considered:

  • The results of your medical examination at immigration, including any in-depth specialist reports requested by the medical officers.
  • The results of laboratory tests carried out by designated 3rd party physicians.
  • Whether or not you are infected with infectious conditions like, e.g., active syphilis or tuberculosis.
  • Whether or not you have been in close contact with someone who suffers from an infectious condition in the past.
  • The way in which the disease you suffer from might impact people who live in Canada.
  • Whether or not your condition forms a danger/threat to the country’s public safety.

Your application could, therefore, be rejected if the authorities are convinced that your health status will be a threat to public safety.

The authorities will also consider the risk that you might:

  • Suddenly become incapacitated, i.e. lose your mental or physical abilities.
  • Display violent or unpredictable behaviour.

Unnecessary demand for social and health services

Your eTA application might be rejected if the authorities are convinced that your current health status could place an unnecessarily high demand on social or health services. Their decision will be based on the outcome of your immigration health examination.

Your condition will be regarded as placing an unnecessarily high demand on services if:

  • The social or health services that will be required to treat your current medical condition will negatively impact the waiting times for these services in Canada.
  • The social or health services necessary for treating and managing your condition will, in all likelihood, exceed the cost threshold the authorities view as ‘excessive.’ At the time of writing in 2023, this threshold was $25,689 per annum or $128,445 over 5 years.

This is the amount that Canadian authorities will use as a yardstick to determine whether or not the cost of treating your health condition represents an excessive demand on the country’s social and health services.

The following exceptions apply:

The normal ‘excessive demand’ rules for inadmissibility on medical grounds do not apply to the following categories of people:

  • Refugees, including their dependents
  • Individuals who have protected status
  • Certain individuals who are being sponsored by, e.g. family members, including dependent kids, common-law partners, husbands, and wives.

What can you do if you get what is known as a ‘procedural fairness letter’?

If the Canadian authorities decide that you are medically inadmissible, they will send you a letter explaining their decision. This letter is officially known as a procedural fairness letter. Please note that a final decision has not been reached when you get one of these. You will first have the opportunity to provide additional information before the authorities make a final decision.

Although this is not compulsory, you can obtain advice or help from a professional before responding to the procedural fairness letter.

You might, for example, provide additional evidence or information about the following:

  • The medical diagnosis and/or your health status. The authorities might change their stance, for example, if you have since been on treatment to improve or cure your health condition.
  • The type of healthcare service and medication that you require and whether or not your doctor has recently changed these.
  • The cost of healthcare services or medication that you require, for example, if your physician has recently replaced your medication with a more affordable equivalent.
  • Any additional info has to be provided within 90 days. If you are unable to respond before such a time, you have to contact the Canadian authorities and ask for an extension. You will find the contact information in the letter you received from the authorities. If you want to apply for an extension or send them additional info, this is the address that you should use.

Mitigation plan

If the Canadian authorities are of the view that your health status could place an unnecessarily high demand on the country’s social or health services, they might ask you to send them what is known as a ‘mitigation plan.’ You will only get such a request if this is applicable to your particular situation.

More reasons why you could be regarded as inadmissible to Canada

The decision on whether or not you will be allowed to enter Canada will be made by an immigration officer either after receipt of your eTA or visa application or after you have arrived at a Canadian port of entry.

If such an officer decides that you are not admissible, you will be denied an eTA or a visa. If you are already at a Canadian border post, you will be refused entry to the country. Depending on the circumstances, you can also be removed from Canada.

You might be deemed inadmissible for various reasons, including the following:

  • Security issues, such as espionage
  • Subversive behaviour, e.g. attempting to overthrow a country’s government
  • Involvement in terrorism or violence or belonging to an organization that is involved in either or both of these
  • Involvement in international or human rights violations such as crimes against humanity or war crimes
  • Being a senior government official in a country that is involved in serious human rights violations or that is sanctioned by the international community
  • Being found guilty of a crime such as DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs)
  • Being involved in organized crime, for example, being a member of an organization that is involved in people smuggling, criminal activity, or money laundering
  • Medical issues. This can include health conditions that place excessive demand on social or health services or endanger public safety or public health
  • Financial issues. If you either won’t or can’t carry the cost of supporting yourself as well as your family members
  • You misrepresented facts. This can include withholding facts or providing fake information that is directly related to decisions reached under the IRPA or Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
  • You failed to comply with the requirements of IRPA
  • You have family members that are not admissible

The following are examples of failing to adhere to the requirements of IRPA:

  • Temporary Canadian residents who fail to adhere to their stay conditions, e.g., overstay the allotted period or study or work without the necessary permission.
  • Permanent Canadian residents who failed to live in that country for the stipulated period of time.
  • Individuals who have, during a previous visit, been deported and attempted to enter the country without the necessary written permission. (In certain instances, you might require authorization to return to Canada (ARC) before being allowed into the country.

What can you do if you are found to be inadmissible to Canada?

If you believe that your reason to visit Canada is valid.

If you are otherwise not admissible to Canada, but you have a specific reason to visit Canada that you believe is justified, given the situation, you might be granted a temporary resident permit.

To qualify for such a permit, your reason for wanting to enter the country should outweigh the safety and/or health risks your status poses to Canada and its citizens. The border services or immigration officer will make this decision. Please note that you will have to prove that your trip to Canada is justified regardless of whether or not you believe the reason for your inadmissibility is insignificant. There is also never a guarantee that your application for a temporary resident permit will be successful.

What is the procedure to apply for a TRP (Temporary Resident Permit)?

If your country is part of the eTA program:

If you are a national of a country that forms part of the eTA program, and the Canadian authorities reject your application for an eTA, you might qualify for a TRP or temporary residence permit. This will, to a large degree, depend on the circumstances and nature of the reason for your inadmissibility and also the reason for your visit to Canada.

The visa office that deals with applications from your region or country might sometimes have its own custom application form for TRPs. You will have to confirm with the local visa office to ascertain the exact application system.

If you are from a non-eTA country and need a visa to visit Canada

In this case, you will be required to submit an application for a visitor visa. You will also have to include supporting documentation that explains why you were found to be inadmissible to Canada and why you believe it is justified that you should be allowed to visit the country.

You could be asked to attend an interview to allow an officer to assess the merits of your application.

For how long will a temporary resident permit allow me to remain in Canada?

A TRP is typically issued for the duration of your visit to the country, e.g. a week to attend a business conference. You will have to be out of Canada by the time the permit expires or successfully apply for a new permit before the present one expires.

Note: An officer can cancel a temporary residence permit whenever he or she deems this justified.

The TRP expires the moment you leave Canada unless the document specifically authorizes you to leave the country and re-enter at a later stage.

What are the costs involved with a temporary resident permit?

At the time of writing, the fee involved was CAN$200. This is to cover the processing cost of your application. This fee is non-refundable, even if the application is refused. You can pay the relevant application fees online.

Is there anything I can do if I have been convicted of a criminal offence or committed a crime?

This depends on the nature of your conviction. If you, for example, were found guilty of driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (cannabis included), you will very likely be found inadmissible for what the authorities describe as ‘serious criminality.’ This will mean that you won’t be allowed to enter Canada or stay in that country unless the authorities are prepared to give you a TRP (Temporary Resident Permit).