A common question among travelers is whether to apply for a visa or eTA for Canada. Both of these documents permit the holder to enter the country.
The Canadian visa and the eTA for Canada are not the same. There are a number of differences between the two, particularly with regards to who must apply for them and why.
Because of these differences, individuals who already have a Canadian visa may wonder if they require an eTA in addition to or instead of their pre-existing visa.
The guide outlines the difference between the Canadian eTA and visa and which are needed by different travelers.
eTA Vs Visa for Canada
The Canadian visa is a document required by the majority of travelers to enter the country. There are different types of Canada visas for tourists, students, foreign nationals who wish to work in Canada, and for those who wish to become residents.
Nationals of certain countries are exempt from Canadian visa requirements for visits up to 6 months for leisure and tourism purposes.
The Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) for Canada is a digital visa waiver for travelers from countries that are visa-exempt.
It involves a quick online registration process that allows the individual to take advantage of their visa exemption and avoid the lengthier and more complicated process of obtaining a visa.
Only one of these documents—either an eTA or a visa—is needed to enter Canada.
eTA Vs Canada Visa: Processing Time
The Canadian eTA is typically processed rapidly. Applications are processed within 3 business days apart from in rare circumstances. The majority are approved within 24 hours.
There is also an express processing service for an urgent Canada eTA.
In addition, the online application form for the eTA is faster to complete than that of the Canadian visa.
Foreign nationals applying for a Canadian visa may have to provide more supporting documentation than for the eTA (a valid passport is all that is required). They must also attend an interview at a Canadian embassy or consulate to get their visa for Canada and provide their biometric information.
This means that applying for a visa is typically a lengthier process than applying for an eTA.
eTA Vs Canada Visa: Validity
The eTA for Canada is valid for 5 years starting from the date it was approved. It is electronically linked to the passport registered in the online application, so if this passport expires, a new eTA will be required.
The Canadian eTA is valid for multiple entries without a visa during its validity period. Each visit can last up to 6 months visa-free. Anyone who plans to stay in Canada longer than 6 months at a time must apply for a visa.
Visitor visas are valid for 10 years or until the passport expires. Similar to the eTA, they usually permit multiple entries and each stay is usually limited to 6 months. However, visa terms may vary depending on the case.
eTA Vs Canada Visa: Apply Online
The Electronic Travel Authorization is obtained by simply completing and submitting the Canada eTA application form.
Canadian visas can either be applied for online or by sending a paper form.
However, in the case of the visa, there are further steps to the process. If the application form is successful, the traveler must then do the following:
- Submit their passport (either in person or by post)
- Attend an interview in person at a Canadian embassy
- Submit their biometrics (fingerprints and photo)
Should I Apply for a Visa or eTA for Canada?
The question of whether to apply or a visa or an eTA depends on 2 factors:
- The nationality of the traveler
- The purpose of entering Canada
Any traveler who is relocating to Canada or plans to work in the country must obtain the relevant visas and permits.
International visitors who are traveling for leisure, tourism, and/or to visit family may take the simpler route of applying for an Electronic Travel Authorization if they meet the Canada eTA requirements.
If a traveler already has a valid Canadian visa, this may be used to enter the country.
Do I Need a Visa or eTA for Canada Transit
International travelers who are transiting through a Canadian airport require either a visa or an eTA in order to do so. The type of authorization required depends on the nationality of the individual.
Nationals of visa-exempt countries must apply for the Canada eTA. If they have obtained the eTA within the past 5 years and have not got a new passport since then, it will still be valid.
Citizens of countries that are not eligible to apply for the eTA must obtain a Canadian transit visa instead.