The answer to this question is a definite no. Whether you are 105 years old or travelling with your 6-month-old twins, with a few exceptions (see below), you will all require a visa or an eTA.
Who is exempted from applying for an eTA?
Individuals who already have a visa to visit Canada should also not apply for an eTA. You only need one or the other.
Citizens of the United States are also exempt from applying for an eTA. They only need to carry the right type of identification, e.g. a valid American passport. Even better, from April 26, 2022, legal permanent residents of the US do not have to apply for an eTA either. They should carry the following documents with them when travelling to Canada:
- a US green card that has not expired or similar proof of their status in the US
- a passport (that must, of course, be valid) or a similar travel document from the country of which they are a national
Core requirements for people who wish to enter Canada
Generally speaking, if you want to visit Canada, you have to meet the following requirements:
- a valid passport or similar travel document
- a valid visa, or if your country is on the visa-exempt list, an eTA
- you should not have serious health issues
- you should not have been convicted of an immigration-related or criminal offence
- upon request, you will have to prove to the border services officer that you have ties that will make you return to your country. Examples include a home, job, family, or financial assets
- the border services officer could also need convincing that you have definite plans to leave Canada at the end of your trip
- you should also be able to provide proof that you have sufficient money for the duration of your stay. The exact amount might vary, depending on issues such as the duration of your visit and whether you will stay with family or friends or in a hotel
How do I know whether I qualify for an eTA or not?
The fact of the matter is that not all travellers qualify for a Canadian eTA. You might not need one, or people from your country might not qualify.
If you, for example, are a citizen of the United States, you will not need an eTA or a visa. All you require is a valid passport. That is unless border security finds a reason not to allow you into Canada.
Citizens of other countries that have been exempted from applying for visas to enter Canada should, however, apply for an eTA if they want to visit Canada.
When will I not qualify to apply for an eTA?
If your country is not on the list of visa-exempt nations, you will not be able to apply for a Canadian eTA successfully. This rule also applies to refugees. Stateless individuals are also not able to visit Canada on an eTA. They will, instead, have to apply for a visa.
Apart from that, permanent residents of Canada also do not have to apply for an eTA. To travel to Canada, they will have to carry a PRTD or permanent resident travel document. And individuals with dual citizenship (Canada plus another country) should use their Canadian passport if they want to visit Canada. No visa or eTA is required.
What could cause my application for a Canadian eTA to be rejected?
Even if you would normally qualify to apply for a Canadian eTA, it doesn’t automatically mean you will get one. Quite a few issues could cause an application to be rejected.
Your application could be unsuccessful, for example, if you are guilty of committing serious human rights abuses or have a direct connection with one or more groups involved with this type of behaviour.
Another reason your application is rejected is if a court has found you guilty of a serious crime such as homicide. And surprisingly enough, your eTA application could also be rejected if the authorities find out that a DUI has tarnished your driving record!
Your health could also prevent you from getting an eTA. There are numerous health-related questions in the eTA application, including whether or not you have been exposed to tuberculosis.
Last but not least, you might not qualify for an eTA if somewhere in years gone by you had yourself expelled from a country, or overstayed your visa. Even individuals who have been removed from Canada once will most likely not be allowed to return. When making a decision, the Canadian authorities will take into account the details of the situation and your country of citizenship.
Can I appeal a decision to reject my eTA application?
You have the right to appeal if you are fairly certain that the rejection was based on an error. You will have to apply to the Federal Court of Canada for a review of your application. A lawyer must submit the request on your behalf.
Simply submitting another application without having the previous decision reviewed is not a good idea because it will not address the root issue of the problem.
It turns out that I don’t qualify for a Canadian eTA. What are my options?
It’s not the end of the road if you do not qualify for a Canadian eTA. You could still qualify for a visa or some other type of travel documentation. Here are a few options:
- Canadian tourist visa: If you are a citizen from a country that is not on Canada’s visa-exempt list, this will, in the majority of cases, be the best option. The application process is more involved and takes longer than with an eTA application, so you can not wait until a day or two before your trip to apply. Fortunately, the validity period of a visa is longer than that of an eTA.
- Work visa: You should be aware that an eTA does not give you the right to work in Canada. If you intend to work in that country, you should apply for a work visa.
- Business visa: If you intend to visit Canada for business purposes, you should apply for a business visa. This is not the same as a work visa – you are not allowed to accept employment in Canada with a business visa. It’s only to do business.
- Transit visa: If you need to pass through Canada on your way somewhere else, you can apply for a transit visa instead of a tourist visa.
- Student visa: An eTA does not allow you to study in Canada. If you plan to attend a university, college, or school in Canada, you should apply for a student visa.
- Permanent resident card: In case you are a Canadian permanent resident, you will most likely already have a Permanent Residents Travel Document. In that case, there is no need to get an eTA.