Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (Electronic Travel Authorization): SOR/2022-80
Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 156, Number 9
SOR/2022-80 April 7, 2022
IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE PROTECTION ACT
P.C. 2022-344 April 6, 2022
Her 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 subsection 5(1) and paragraph 26(1)(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act footnote a, makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (Electronic Travel Authorization).
Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (Electronic Travel Authorization)
1 Paragraph 7.1(3)(b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations footnote 1 is replaced by the following:
- (b) a national of the United States or a person who has been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence;
2 Section 12.05 of the Regulations is amended by adding the following after subsection (1):
United States lawful permanent residents
(1.1) Any electronic travel authorization that is issued to a citizen of a country other than those listed in Schedule 1.1 on the basis of their lawful admission to the United States for permanent residence ceases to be valid at 08:00:00 Eastern daylight time on April 26, 2022.
3 Schedule 1.1 to the Regulations is amended by replacing the reference after the heading “SCHEDULE 1.1” with the following:
(Subsection 12.05(1.1) and paragraph 190(1)(a))
Coming into Force
4 These Regulations come into force at 08:00:00 Eastern daylight time on April 26, 2022.
REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT
(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)
Issues: There is a need to support broader efforts by the Government of Canada to modernize the way visitors come to Canada and to improve the efficiency of the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) program. These efforts are hindered by the way in which eTA applications from United States Lawful Permanent Residents (USLPRs) are processed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s system.
Description: This regulatory amendment will exempt USLPRs from the requirement to obtain an eTA before flying to Canada. These travellers would still be required to present proof of valid USLPR status to air carriers before boarding a flight, and to Border Services Officers at Canadian ports of entry, similar to protocols for permanent residents of Canada, and United States (U.S.) citizens.
As a result of this exemption, existing eTAs issued on the basis of USLPR status will be invalidated.
Rationale: Exempting USLPRs from the eTA pre-travel screening requirement is an administrative measure that will support overall efforts to modernize the way visitors come to Canada. This change is facilitative in nature and impacts only USLPRs who travel to Canada by air.
Not conducting Canadian eTA pre-travel screening on this population presents manageable risk, as USLPRs would have already successfully undergone in-depth screening by the U.S. as part of the immigration landing process. Further, the majority of USLPRs already enter Canada via the land border, where they are not subject to pre-travel screening. The number of travellers impacted by this change is limited to USLPRs travelling to Canada by air, and is relatively small (approximately 140 000 individuals per year).
Costs to Government and airlines associated with implementation are minimal, whereas benefits will be generated in the longer term, as Canada works to improve the efficiency of the Electronic Travel Authorization program, and modernize the way it welcomes visitors.
There is a need for broader efforts by the Government of Canada to modernize the way visitors come to Canada and to improve the efficiency of the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) program.
Currently, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations stipulate that visa-exempt foreign nationals must hold an electronic travel authorization (eTA) to travel to Canada by air. Also eligible for eTA are United States Lawful Permanent Residents (USLPRs). Since the eTA only applies to air travel, USLPRs can enter Canada by land, rail, or sea modes without pre-travel screening. The USLPR cohort of travellers is considered lower risk (regardless of their nationality) because they have previously been successfully screened by the United States (U.S.), and rarely interact with Canadian law enforcement. However, the manner in which the eTA population is processed hinders current efforts by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to modernize the way all visitors come to Canada. This administrative issue related to USLPR applications may prevent, or delay, the implementation of other program efficiencies.
Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), all visitors to Canada require a temporary resident visa (TRV), with the exception of citizens or nationals from countries and territories which have been granted an exemption. The eTA requirement was introduced as part of the Beyond the Border Action Plan in 2015, to screen visa-exempt foreign nationals at the earliest opportunity in an effort to address threats early, and to mirror the U.S. Electronic System for Travel Authorization. Prior to 2015, visa-exempt foreign nationals were not pre-screened before arriving in Canada. Since 2015, the vast majority of foreign nationals exempted from the TRV requirement must apply online for an eTA prior to travelling to Canada by air. Note that U.S. nationals are the only major population exempted from both the TRV and eTA requirement when travelling to Canada by air. Currently, U.S. nationals are not required to undergo any Canadian pre-travel screening in any mode of travel.
An eTA costs Can$7, allows the holder to travel to Canada multiple times, and is valid for up to five years, or until the holder’s passport expires, whichever occurs first. Applicants provide basic biographic details, their passport number, and personal information, and an automated system verifies whether the traveller may be inadmissible to Canada. The vast majority of applications are approved automatically within minutes; a small percentage are referred to an officer for manual review (e.g. for identity verification or due to the presence of adverse information).
Nationality is Canada’s primary determinant for pre-travel screening. However, if a foreign national is visa-required for Canada, but holds valid USLPR status, this individual is eligible for an eTA. This exemption is provided in recognition of the fact that the USLPR population has already undergone in-depth screening by the U.S. as part of the immigration landing process, and are proven to present a low-level of risk to Canada.
Akin to the Canadian Permanent Resident process, USLPR applicants must provide in-depth information about immigration history, family and marital history, and employment and criminal history. Most applicants must also demonstrate that they are not likely to become a public charge at any time. Additional requirements in most cases include submission of biometrics, interviews with a U.S. immigration officer, and immigration medical examinations. To maintain status as a USLPR, individuals must not be outside of the U.S. for more than a year without a re-entry permit. USLPR status may be rescinded following a long absence from the U.S. The low-risk to Canada posed by this population is evidenced by a low number of asylum claims and immigration violations recorded by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
United States Lawful Permanent Residents
Currently, USLPRs from visa-exempt countries apply for an eTA on the basis of their visa-exempt nationality. They are not asked to declare their USLPR status, because this is not the primary basis on which they are eligible for the eTA. In practical terms, a French national holding USLPR status applies for an eTA based on French nationality, and submits French passport information as part of the application. The application does not require this client to submit a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) number, commonly referred to as a “green card” number, as proof of USLPR status.
By comparison, an Indian national holding USLPR status would enter Indian passport information as part of the eTA application. Canada’s eTA system will instantly request proof of USLPR status from this applicant because Indian nationals are currently visa-required for Canada. It is only the provision of the valid USCIS number, or U.S. “green card” number, that makes this Indian client eligible for eTA.
The eTA is a requirement for air travel only. USLPRs may enter Canada without any type of Canadian pre-departure screening via all other modes of travel (e.g. land, marine, rail). Prior to the introduction of the eTA requirement in 2015, USLPRs travelling by air did not undergo any Canadian pre-travel screening.
USLPRs represent a very small percentage of eTA holders overall. Of the more than 16.2 million eTAs issued since 2015, an estimated 4% were issued on the basis of USLPR status. The vast majority of USLPR visitors to Canada enter via the land border (approximately 600 000 annually), and are not subject to any Canadian pre-travel screening. The USLPR population that travels to Canada by air on an eTA every year is even smaller, at approximately 140 000.
The objective of this amendment is to support IRCC’s efforts to improve the efficiency of the eTA program and modernize the way visitors come to Canada. Currently, the way in which USLPR eTAs are processed hinders these efforts. Exempting USLPR holders from the eTA program will facilitate modernization efforts. This administrative change will not significantly impact the overall travel experience for this low-risk population. Exempting USLPRs from the eTA also aligns their traveller experience with existing requirements for this population in all other modes of travel.
This regulatory amendment exempts USLPRs from the eTA requirement when travelling to Canada by air.
To ensure consistency for USLPR travellers, and facilitate communications and implementation by the air industry, all existing eTAs issued on the basis of USLPR status will be invalidated.
Both air industry and the U.S. were engaged on this initiative.
A select group of key Canadian air industry representatives was consulted (through existing government-industry tables) in advance of this change, given their experience in interacting with this population, and on potential impacts to their technical systems, procedures and staff. These representatives were supportive of this change, and of continued efforts to modernize the way visitors come to Canada.
A prepublication comment period in the Canada Gazette, Part I, was not undertaken, as advanced public notice is not standard practice for regulations that change immigration screening requirements for visitors to Canada. This regulatory amendment is small in scale, facilitative in nature, with impacts to stakeholders and clients expected to be minimal.
Modern treaty obligations and Indigenous engagement and consultation
No modern treaty implications are anticipated because Indigenous peoples in Canada are not impacted by the proposal. These amendments focus on the admissibility to Canada of foreign nationals.
Immigration requirements for entry to Canada are prescribed by regulation, as part of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. As this proposal constitutes a change to the immigration requirements set out in these Regulations, no other instrument is appropriate.
Benefits and costs
The baseline case, against which these regulatory changes must be compared, is a scenario where USLPRs are required to have an eTA when flying into Canada. The regulatory scenario changes only the eTA requirement, as USLPRs will continue to show their passport, and evidence of USLPR status to airlines at boarding, and to CBSA officers at ports of entry.
The overall impact of the amendments will be a net cost to the Government of Canada. The costs impacts include required updates to IT systems managed by CBSA and IRCC, as well as administrative updates to make sure those affected are informed of the new entry requirements.
The Government of Canada will incur one-time transition costs to enforce and implement the amendments. These costs will be incurred in 2022, the year the amendments come into force. Transition activities include updating program delivery instructions, performing IT updates and system changes to remove USLPR status as an eligibility criteria for the eTA program, invalidating eTAs previously issued to USLPR, and providing officers with the necessary training to implement changes. There will also be costs for engaging and informing air carriers and passengers of the changes. Transition costs to the Government of Canada are estimated at $1.8 million.
The amendments will require updates to IT systems managed by CBSA and IRCC. Ongoing maintenance will be necessary to support system upgrades. Maintenance activities include supporting account release management, incident reporting, problem management, program monitoring, and overseeing exemption coding. The annual average costs to the Government of Canada for ongoing system maintenance is estimated at $240,756.
Costs to the air industry are expected to be minimal, as the technical infrastructure needed to process Canadian permanent resident travellers is very similar to the proposed process for USLPRs and is already in place. Some airlines will manually enter USLPR information in the CBSA’s Interactive Advance Passenger Information (IAPI) system for USLPR travellers, similar to Canadian permanent residents, while other airlines may choose to invest in modest IT changes to facilitate this process electronically. Airlines noted that costs for IT changes are estimated to be minimal. In all cases, airlines will need to verify travellers’ proof of status, which they are currently required to do. Airlines will communicate this change to their employees and may need to update some staff guidance materials, but this is not expected to require an extensive effort. Though initially there may be some confusion and uncertainty in terms of confirming whether passengers have sufficient documentation for travel to Canada, a significant rise in calls by air carriers to the CBSA’s Air Carrier Support Centre (ACSC) in the initial years following implementation is not anticipated.
USLPRs are considered a low-risk population, as evidenced by their low number of asylum claims and immigration violations. Just like U.S. citizens, green card holders will only be subject to examination upon arrival at any Canadian port of entry. This change will also result in some benefits to USLPR holders who will now no longer have to apply for an eTA, which saves them time and the eTA fee. The removal of the eTA travel requirements for USLPR is expected to bring benefits to Canada and Canadians by facilitating the ongoing modernization of visitor policy and programs.
Small business lens
Analysis under the small business lens concluded that the proposed regulation will not impact Canadian small businesses.
The one-for-one rule does not apply, as there is no incremental change in administrative burden on business and no regulatory titles are repealed or introduced.
Regulatory cooperation and alignment
This proposal is not related to a work plan or commitment under a formal regulatory cooperation forum.
Strategic environmental assessment
In accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, a preliminary scan concluded that a strategic environmental assessment is not required.
Gender-based analysis plus (GBA+)
It is not expected that this proposal would have any disproportionate impacts on Canadians based on factors such as gender, age or other identity factors.
Implementation, compliance and enforcement, and service standards
This regulatory amendment will come into force on April 26, 2022. Changes to the eTA application form, online instructions, and the multilingual help guides will be implemented at the time the amendment comes into force.
Effective upon implementation, all existing eTAs issued on the basis of USLPR status will be invalidated and their holders will be sent an electronic letter notifying them that their eTA is invalidated and providing them with information on what documents they will need to present for air travel and entry into Canada (i.e. proof of valid USLPR status). The changes will not negatively impact individuals with USLPR status already travelling to Canada by air at the time of implementation.
CBSA system and process changes will have a minimal impact on how travellers will be processed at ports of entry, as officers typically request that these travellers show their U.S. green cards; however, changes to the CBSA’s IAPI and Primary Inspection Kiosk system will be required, and it is expected that the Air Carrier Support Centre may receive a slightly higher volume of questions from airlines at the time of implementation.
After USLPRs are no longer required to apply for an eTA in advance of air travel, commercial air carriers will still be required to obtain proof of valid USLPR status (e.g. a U.S. green card) prior to boarding, as part of their legal obligations to carry only properly documented passengers to Canada. The Government of Canada mandate to assess admissibility to Canada and to protect the health and security of Canadians will be upheld through port-of-entry examination by the CBSA.
In advance of the coming into force of this regulatory amendment, all airlines will be notified so they can make any system or process changes, and update staff training manuals to implement this exemption.
IRCC will work closely with stakeholders and other federal partners, including the air industry, Canadian missions abroad, and the CBSA to ensure that impacted USLPRs are aware of the eTA exemption. In addition to being notified directly, impacted USLPRs will also be informed about the new air travel requirements via IRCC’s web pages, tools and application guides. IRCC will share communications products and messaging for use by air industry stakeholders.
Compliance and enforcement
The CBSA will monitor the efficacy of this regulatory amendment to ensure the required system changes are properly in place and to determine if new issues or challenges emerge as a result of the removal of the eTA requirement for this population. Analysis of these outcomes will determine whether any future amendments would be appropriate or necessary.
The impact of the exemption on airlines and CBSA operations, trends in traveller volumes, immigration violations and other targeted metrics will be tracked to monitor implementation and the efficacy of this regulatory amendment.
Ongoing communication between Government and air industry will ensure that any issues or concerns are acted upon.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada