Canada and Mexico are countries that maintain a strong relationship. This ongoing relationship is most notably recognized through the North American Free Trade Agreement (also known as “NAFTA”, and other political agreements between the nations, such as Canada allowing Mexican citizens to travel without a visa in 2016. However, a recent change in Canadian immigration policy will likely have an impact on Canadian-Mexican relationships.

Updated Travel Requirements

On February 29, 2024, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced updated travel information for Mexican citizens coming to Canada. Before this announcement, all citizens of Mexico were eligible to receive an Electronic Travel Authorization to enter Canada on a visitor visa, which is also known as a temporary resident visa.

As of February 29, 2024, Mexican citizens who do not meet certain conditions will need to apply for a Canadian visitor visa in order to come to Canada due to the changes. In order for a citizen of Mexico to come to Canada without having to apply for a visa, they must:

  • Hold a valid US non-immigrant visa or have held a Canadian visa in the past 10 years at the time of their travel;
  • Be coming to Canada for a short visit, business or tourist activity. This means normally for stays of up to six months; and
  • Be travelling by air to Canada on a Mexican passport, or flying to Canada to transit to another destination.

Electronic Travel Authorizations Remain Valid

Importantly, Electronic Travel Authorizations issued to Mexican citizens with valid Canadian work or study permits will remain valid. This means that those individuals will be able to travel to Canada by air with their existing Electronic Travel Authorizations and can continue to work or study in Canada based on the permit they hold. Further, Electronic Travel Authorizations only apply to air travel. Potential visitors with a valid Electronic Travel Authorization will need a valid visitor visa in order to enter Canada through a land port of entry, or by water.

All other citizens of Mexico with an Electronic Travel Authorization will have to apply for a visitor visa or reapply for a new Electronic Travel Authorization. Some of those individuals who had a valid study or work permit may now need a new Electronic Travel Authorization if theirs was cancelled. Those affected can visit the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship website, fill out the required information, and include the code “EMVR2024” when prompted to do so in order to reapply.

Understanding the Change to Travel Requirements for Citizens of Mexico

The Government of Canada has been transparent with its reasoning for the change in travel requirements for Mexican citizens who want to come to Canada. The impetus for the changes was a large uptick in the number of Mexican citizens who are coming to Canada in order to seek asylum. There were a record high number of asylum seekers from Mexico in Canada in 2023, with just under 24,000 refugee claims made. This is a large increase in asylum seekers since visa free travel was first allowed from Mexico in 2016, at which time there were only 260 claims for asylum.

The Government of Canada is concerned about Canada’s asylum system, with housing and social services being under pressure, and is, therefore, trying to reduce the number of asylum seekers from Mexico. Asylum claims from Mexican citizens accounted for 17% of the total number of asylum claims that were made in Canada in 2023. The majority of these claims for asylum, around 60%, have been rejected by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, or abandoned or withdrawn by the asylum applicant.

Mexico Among 15 Countries Whose Citizens Can Fly to Canada on Electronic Travel Authorization Instead of Visitor Visa

Visitor visas, which are also known as temporary resident visas allow the holder of the visa the right to stay in Canada for up to six months. Citizens of countries that Canada does not have visa-free travel agreements with, in the majority of cases, must obtain a visitor visa in order to come to Canada. A list of the countries that have visa-exempt travel to Canada has been made available online by Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada.

Applicants for visitor visas must:

  • have a valid travel passport;
  • be in good health (some applicants may be subject to a medical examination);
  • not have a criminal or immigration conviction on their record;
  • be able to show Canadian immigration authorities that they have sufficient ties to their home country such that they will leave Canada at the end of their visit; and
  • be able to show that they have financial support for the duration of their stay.

Mexico will now be among 15 countries whose citizens can fly to Canada on an Electronic Travel Authorization, instead of a visa, if they meet certain requirements. The countries include:

  • Antigua and Barbuda;
  • Argentina;
  • Brazil;
  • Costa Rica;
  • Mexico;
  • Morocco;
  • Panama;
  • The Philippines;
  • St. Kitts and Nevis;
  • St. Lucia;
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines;
  • Seychelles;
  • Thailand;
  • Trinidad and Tobago; and
  • Uruguay.

Citizens of these countries can come to Canada without a visa on an Electronic Travel Authorization provided they meet the same requirements as discussed above. In order to come to Canada with an Electronic Travel Authorization and not a visitor visa, citizens of the aforementioned countries must:

  • have held a Canadian visitor visa in the last ten years or hold a United States non-immigrant visa; and
  • be coming to Canada for a short visit, business or tourist activity, or
  • be flying or transiting through a Canadian airport.

Contact Garson Immigration Law for Advice on Canadian Immigration and Application Assistance

The experienced immigration lawyers at Garson Immigration Law work closely with businesses and individual clients to find robust legal solutions to the most challenging immigration matters. We have a wealth of experience helping clients navigate the complex uncertainties associated with Canadian immigration, including assistance with applications for permanent residencecitizenshipwork and study permits. Contact us by phone at 416-321-2860 or reach out to us online to speak with a member of our team and learn how we can assist you.

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