CANADA has extended visa-free privileges to eligible Filipino travelers who have been issued visas previously by Canada or the United States.
Canadian Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Sean Fraser announced that the Philippines is one of the 13 countries that have been given visa-free travel to Canada in Winnipeg Airport Tuesday (Wednesday Philippine time).
“It takes only CAN $7 dollars (P300) and a few minutes to be approved,” Fraser said in his Twitter account.
Philippine passport holders who hold a valid US non-immigrant visa, or have had a valid Canadian visa over the past 10 years will be eligible for visa-free travel to Canada.
With the inclusion of the Philippines under the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) program of Canada, eligible Filipino travelers can stay in Canada for up to 6 months, the Canadian Embassy in Manila said in a separate statement. Filipino tourists who travel by air can enjoy visa-free privileges under the eTA program.
Philippine passport holders who travel by land from the US border or by sea like cruise ships are still required to apply for visas at the Canadian Embassy. Over the last 10 years, Canada issued 466,936 temporary resident visas to Filipinos. The US Embassy has also issued more than a million non-immigrant visas to Filipinos in the past years.
Aside from the Philippines, other countries, which were added to the eTA program are Thailand, Morocco, Panama, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina, Costa Rica, Uruguay, and Seychelles.
Fraser said by extending the eTA program to these 13 countries, they hoped that tourism in Canada would be further boosted.
“This exciting development means that more individuals from the Philippines can now embark on unforgettable adventures, explore our diverse landscapes, reunite with family and friends, and immerse themselves in our vibrant culture without the hurdle of visa requirements. This expansion not only enhances convenience for travelers; it will also increase travel, tourism, and economic benefits, as well as strengthen our bond with the Philippines,” he said as quoted by the Canadian Embassy.
The eTA is a digital travel document that most visa-exempt travelers need to travel to or transit through Canada by air.
To apply for an eTA, travelers need only a valid passport, a credit card, an email address and access to the Internet.
Earlier, the Philippines has been included in Canada’s Transit Without Visa program, which allows eligible Filipino nationals to fly through Canada on their way to or from the US without a Canadian visa, as well as the Student Direct Stream, which offers expedited study permit processing to those who are applying to study in Canada.
“This initiative will also support Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, which aims to strengthen relations and invest in people-to-people ties between Canada and the Indo-Pacific region, including the Philippines,” the Canadian Embassy said.
To know if you are eligible for visa-free entry to Canada, Filipinos may visit Canada.ca/etA.
Manila welcomed the decision of the Canadian government.
“The Philippines’ inclusion, coming soon after the official visit of Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, is an important milestone and a striking indication of Canada’s growing friendship and trust in the Philippines as well as the great value it attributes to the Filipino community that has contributed to its diversity and dynamism. The new policy is expected to spur travel, stimulate more business opportunities, and foster greater interest for family reunification efforts,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
Close to a million Filipinos lived in Canada, the fourth largest minority group in the North American country. Almost 73 percent of these Filipinos have migrated to Canada over the past 20 years.
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