Dear Ms. Powell,
My daughter and I would like to attend my son’s graduation from a University in Canada. We both have US Green cards. Do we need to apply for a visitor’s visa? Thanks in advance for your response.
Generally speaking individuals with a US Green card is not required to get a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or visitor’s visa in order to travel to Canada. However, as of March 2016, there have been changes to this rule, so that individuals who have a valid US Green card and who are travelling via air will need to get an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). If you are travelling via land or sea you do not currently require an eTA.
This new system was introduced by the Canadian government, so that they can make it safer and easier for admissible individuals to travel without causing delays due to investigation about whether or not an individual is admissible to Canada.
There is no age exemption and so both you and your daughter, regardless of age will need an eTA.
Grace Period and documentation
USA citizens and individuals with a valid Canadian visa will not need to get an ETA. However, Jamaican citizens with a valid USA Green Card are authorized to travel to Canada until September 2016 without a visitor’s visa or eTA. This also includes individuals who intend to remain in transit as they travel through Canada to another country.
To be admitted, you will need to have various documents in your possession such as your passport, your green card. You could be required to satisfy other basic requirements such as: being in good health, have no criminal record or immigration related convictions, have enough money for your stay, be able to explain the reason for visiting Canada, proof of intention to return to your home country after the period of time granted to be in Canada expires. It is best to bring other items such as an invitation letter or confirmation of hotel reservation.
If you are travelling with your minor child and the child’s father is not present, you should ensure you have a letter of consent from the father signed in the presence of a notary public or a court order that proves that you have full custody of your child.
Although you have until September 2016 to board without the eTA, if you have been refused a Canadian visitor’s visa or have had any other immigration related problems in either Canada or the USA, it would be best to apply for the eTA before you travel. This will ease the anxiety and prevent delays or disappointment when travelling to Canada.
How to apply
The application process is a simple online application which currently cost CAD$7. It is usually valid for 5 years or until your passport expires, depending on which date comes first. You will receive a confirmation of your eTA via email. Usually it is within minutes, if there are no issues or concerns by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
If you submit your application online and do not receive a confirmation email, then you should check your spam folder, as sometimes the confirmation end up there.
If you have applied and you do not receive the confirmation in time for your travel, you may travel during the grace period. However you should bring additional proof such as invitation letter, proof of sufficient funds as stated above.
If you have issues or concerns about how to apply for an eTA or visitor’s visa, you should consult with an immigration lawyer.
Deidre S. Powell is an immigration lawyer, mediator and notary public. Submit your questions and comments to [email protected] or call 613.695.8777. You may also find her on Facebook.com/jamaicanlawyer.