by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Since November 22, 2014, Citizens who travel using a St. Kitts and Nevis passport required a visa to enter Canada because of what was considered national security concerns during that time.
In a release from the High Commission of Canada in Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis have now been added to the electronic travel authorisation (eTA) program.
What does that mean?
According to the statement, “Citizens from St. Kitts and Nevis who have either held a Canadian visa in the last ten years or hold a valid United States non-immigrant visa can now apply for an eTA instead of a visa when travelling to Canada by air.”
Travellers from St. Kitts and Nevis can now visit Canada for up to six months for either business or leisure, easing travel, tourism and international business between the countries.
“Individuals who already have a valid visa can continue to use it to travel to Canada. Those who are not eligible for an eTA or who are travelling to Canada by means other than air (for example, by car, bus, train, and boat—including by cruise ship) will still need a visitor visa.”
Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, during a press briefing on June 6, said the eTA is valid for five years or if the users’ passport expires before five years. The Immigration Minister outlined the countries that will benefit from the program.
“These countries include; Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Costa Rica, Morocco, Panama, Philippines, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay.”
Minister Frazer explained that the process for considering the countries was extensive.
“It involves a rigorous assessment process where our department officials consider a range of different factors to consider which countries are going to be eligible. Things like the rate of asylum claims, things like anticipated travel, [and] whether there are strategic economic opportunities. Of course, that doesn’t happen overnight. It requires engagement on the ground between officials with the Government of Canada and with governments of other countries who will benefit from the new policy. So now that we ran a pilot in 2017, it took a couple of years to really see the effect of that, we got to work doing the assessment process, and the assessment was ready for this program to be in effect as of today. We look forward, for the next round, to assessing additional countries which will take part over the next number of years. But my expectation is that this is going to be the path forward, and so long as other countries can meet the same benchmark that those listed today do, I will be looking for opportunities to further expand the program in the years ahead.”
The eTA is a digital travel document, costs seven Canadian dollars, and is similar to the entry form travellers must fill in when coming into the Federation.
The application allows Canadian officials to conduct light-touch, pre-travel screening of air travellers and is approved automatically within minutes.
Travellers need a valid passport, a credit card, an email address and access to the Internet to apply for the eTA.
St. Kitts and Nevis joins 13 other countries whose citizens can now benefit from visa-free travel.