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Canada Grants Visa-Free Access to Citizens of Antigua, St Lucia, St Kitts, and 10 More Countries

Canada returns the opportunity for citizens of Antigua and Barbuda, St Lucia, and St Kitts and Nevis to enter its territory without visas. This is certainly good news for those looking to acquire citizenship-by-investment in one of the aforementioned Caribbean countries.

Visa-free travel to Canada

Citizens of 13 countries have been granted access to eTA, a simplified system of entering Canada

On June 5, 2023, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced liberalization of the visa regime for citizenship of 13 countries. The press release says that travelers from these countries can now use the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) system.

The list of 13 countries includes three Caribbean states that grant their citizenship to wealthy foreign investors. The Caribbean states include the following ones:

  • Antigua and Barbuda;
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis;
  • Saint Lucia.
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Other countries on the list include the following ones:

  • Argentina;
  • Costa Rica;
  • Morocco;
  • Panama;
  • Philippines;
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines;
  • Seychelles;
  • Thailand;
  • Trinidad and Tobago;
  • Uruguay.

The key requirements for obtaining an eTA entrance permit is the ability to confirm having a Canadian Temporary Residence Visa (TRV) over the last ten years or a non-immigration visa to the U.S.A.

“This is an exciting event. More people from different parts of the world can go on fantastic journeys around our country, explore its landscapes, visit their relatives and friends living in Canada, and immerse into our culture without applying for a visa. The new rules will not only make traveling more comfortable for the citizens of the thirteen countries but they will also help Canada strengthen the connections with these countries”, said Sean Fraser, head of the IRCC (in the photo below).

Sean Fraser

The Canadian immigration authorities expect the number of visitors from the countries to increase by 200 thousand people (by 20%) within only one year. Over ten years, foreign visitors are expected to bring nearly 160 million dollars to the tourist sector of the Canadian economy.

Mr. Fraser assured the journalists that the IRCC was working hard on making visits to Canada simpler and more affordable for foreign nationals. According to the minister, the IRCC will benefit from granting access to the eTA to the citizens of thirteen more countries because the ministry will have more time and resources required for solving other tasks.

The eTA program was launched on August 1, 2015. Since that time, almost 21 million electronic entrance permits have been issued. In 2017, the IRCC added Brazil, Bulgaria, and Romania to the list of countries whose citizens were eligible to use the eTA opportunities. Later the same year, Bulgaria and Romania were taken off the list. Brazilians are still eligible to acquire entrance permits through the eTA system. Statistics show that the number of visitors to Canada from Brazil have grown by 40% since Brazilians were granted access to the eTA system. The workload at the IRCC office in Sao Paulo has been reduced by 60%.

Has Canada ‘changed from anger to mercy’ as far as investment immigration is concerned?  

The decision made by the Canadian authorities has given an additional competitive advantage to the ‘golden passports’ of the three Caribbean countries that we have mentioned above. If this decision can start a trend, the entire investment immigration industry is going to benefit.

In 2014, the Canadian authorities canceled the visa-free regime for citizens of St Kitts and Nevis. They justified their decision by claiming that they were concerned about the trustworthiness of economic citizens of St Kitts and Nevis. In the summer of 2017, the Canadian authorities imposed similar sanctions on the citizens of Antigua and Barbuda following the same motifs.

Restoration of the visa-free regime does not mean that Canadians have become less skeptical about the Caribbean citizenship-by-investment programs. They are not quite happy with the strictness of the corresponding due diligence procedures and they remain ‘concerned’ about the economic citizenship programs.

Ironically, however, Canada is planning to reintroduce its own investment immigration program. The province of Quebec is expected to start issuing ‘golden visas’ again by the end of 2023.

How does the Canadian eTA work?

The Canadian eTA system is analogous to the American Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). We must note though that the launch of the latter system has been postponed several times already.

The users of the Canadian system obtain electronic travel documents. The eTA system facilitates screening the airline passengers when they enter Canada. The following conditions need to be satisfied if a foreign national is to be able to use the eTA to enter Canada:  

  • The foreigner shall arrive in Canada by air. Those who enter Canada by land (by car, train, or bus) as well as those who arrive by sea have to apply for regular visas.
  • The system is accessible via the Internet. Consequently, you have to have an Internet connection and an email address to be able to use the eTA system.
  • You have to have a valid passport.
  • Your visit to Canada has to be a short one (normally, it should not exceed 6 months).
  • With an electronic entrance permit, you can go to Canada on business or vacations. You can also transit through Canada.
  • The administrative fee is only 7 Canadian dollars but you will need a bank card to make the payment.

Successful candidates are approved within a few minutes, as a rule. In some cases, the application processing can take several days if the Canadian immigration authorities request any confirmation documents. This means that you have to apply for an electronic entrance permit to Canada in advance.

You don’t have to print out any documents when applying via the eTA: the national database will have your passport (or another travel document) number and this will be enough to identify you. The electronic permit is valid for five years or until your passport expires. If your passport expires before the permit expires, you will have to apply for a new entrance permit via the eTA.

Travelers falling into the following categories do not have to apply for an electronic entrance permit or are ineligible to apply:

  • People who already hold Canadian visas (provided that the visas are still valid). Therefore, travelers from the 13 countries specified above can enter Canada on their valid visas if they have them without having to apply for an electronic entrance permit.
  • People who arrive in Canada by land or by sea.
  • Foreign military persons paying an official visit to Canada.
  • Members of aircraft crews, civil aviation inspectors, and specialists in aviation accident investigation.
  • Citizens of France who arrive from the French overseas territory of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon.
  • People entering Canada from the U.S.A. or Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon who have a resident status in Canada (visitors, students, or laborers).
  • Accredited diplomats.
  • Citizens of Canada and people with dual citizenship (on the condition that they supply their Canadian passports when entering the country).
  • Legal foreign residents of Canada (the residence permit needs to be supplied at the checkpoint).
  • Citizens and legal residents of the U.S.A.

Full list of countries whose citizens enjoy visa-free entry to Canada

  • Andorra;
  • Argentina;
  • Australia;
  • Austria; Austria;
  • Bahamas;
  • Barbados;
  • Belgium;
  • United Kingdom: British nationals and nationals of the following British Overseas Territories (granted citizenship by birth, descent, naturalisation or registration):
    • Anguilla;
    • Bermuda;
    • British Virgin Islands;
    • Cayman Islands;
    • Falkland Islands (Malvinas);
    • Gibraltar;
    • Montserrat;
    • Pitcairn Islands;
    • Saint Helena;
    • Turks and Caicos Islands;
  • Brunei Darussalam;
  • Bulgaria;
  • Antigua and Barbuda;
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis;
  • Saint Lucia;
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines;
  • Trinidad and Tobago;
  • Chile;
  • Costa Rica;
  • Croatia;
  • Cyprus;
  • Czech Republic;
  • Denmark;
  • Estonia;
  • Finland; France; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia;
  • France; Germany; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France;
  • Germany;
  • Greece;
  • Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) within the People’s Republic of China (passport issued by the SAR administration is required);
  • Hungary;
  • Iceland;
  • Hungary; Iceland; Ireland;
  • Iceland; Hungary; Ireland; Israel;
  • Italy;
  • Japan;
  • South Korea;
  • Latvia;
  • Liechtenstein;
  • Lithuania;
  • Luxembourg; Japan; Latvia; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg;
  • Malta;
  • Mexico; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Malta; Mexico;
  • Monaco;
  • Morocco; Netherlands;
  • Netherlands; Malta; Mexico; Monaco; Morocco; Netherlands;
  • New Zealand; Monaco; Morocco; Netherlands; Malta; New Zealand;
  • Norway; Monaco; Morocco; Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway;
  • Panama;
  • Papua New Guinea;
  • Philippines;
  • Poland;
  • Portugal;
  • Romania (e-passport holders only);
  • Samoa;
  • San Marino;
  • Seychelles;
  • Singapore;
  • Slovakia;
  • Slovenia;
  • Solomon Islands;
  • Spain;
  • Sweden; Sweden;
  • Switzerland;
  • Taiwan (an ordinary passport issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Taiwan with the holder’s personal identification number is required);
  • Thailand;
  • United Arab Emirates;
  • Uruguay;
  • Vatican City.

Delays in TRV processing: an additional reason to invest into a Caribbean ‘golden passport’

Citizens of the U.S.A. as well as citizens of the countries listed above do not have to apply for visas if they want to enter Canada. Citizens of many other countries are not so lucky, however, and they have to apply for TRVs – temporary residence or guest visas. A TRV allows entering Canada and staying there on legal grounds for 6 months (the duration of the legal stay may be different for citizens of some foreign countries).

A TRV does not make the holder qualified for a study permit or a work permit. The immigration officers at the entrance point may ask for some confirmation that yours is going to be a short visit indeed. You may have to prove that you are a tourist, for example, or that you are visiting your relatives in Canada.

The IRCC currently reports delays in the TRV application processing. The latest data show that 50% of the applications for TRVs are not processed within the timeframe defined in the legislation. According to the requirements, applications for TRVs have to be processed within 14 days.

Mr. Fraser admits that the recent strike initiated by the Public Service Alliance of Canada has had an impact on the performance of his ministry. The strike lasted for 12 days between April 19 and May 1, 2023. Fraser noted that processing of 100 thousand applications for TRVs has had to be put on hold. The ministry is going to need several months to process the backlog.

Assistance to those wishing to acquire Caribbean citizenship by investment

Would you like to acquire second citizenship by investment for yourself and members of your family? Would you like to visit Canada without a visa and make use of multiple other advantages that a Caribbean passport brings? If your answer is ‘yes’, you are welcome to apply for our professional assistance. We do not charge any fee for an initial consultation on obtaining foreign citizenship and a second passport.

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Please contact our experts without delay using the means of communication that you prefer.

In the framework of the consultation with an International Wealth expert, you will learn about multiple financial routes to Caribbean citizenship. Besides, you will find out about all the main advantages that Caribbean citizenship brings. With our vast experience in the field, we will be able to offer the best strategies to you and help you acquire second citizenship in a fast and safe manner.

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