Manually processing electronic travel authorization applications

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Electronic travel authorization (eTA) applications that cannot be automatically approved will require a manual review at the Operations Support Centre (OSC).

Applications will require a manual review at different stages for either or both of the following reasons:

  • identity reconciliation
  • derogatory information

eTA and eTA expansion applications are manually processed using essentially the same procedures.

Procedures

Canadian citizen applied for an eTA

In some cases, applications can drop out of the automated process because the individual appears to be a citizen of Canada. The system will catch such cases only if the individual is a naturalized citizen; individuals who are Canadian citizens by birth will not have a record of their citizenship in GCMS and will therefore not be identifiable by the system.

If the applicant is a Canadian citizen, they are not eligible for an eTA.

Officers should consider the following:

  • Based on case history, has the applicant indeed been granted Canadian citizenship?
  • Is there anything on file showing that the applicant is appearing as a Canadian citizen in the system, but that their citizenship has been revoked?

Procedure

The officer should determine whether the applicant is a Canadian citizen.

If the officer determines that the applicant is a Canadian citizen, they should withdraw the application.

The officer should contact the applicant and advise them that their application has been withdrawn and that they must use their Canadian travel document to enter Canada.

Canadian permanent resident applied for an eTA

In some cases, applications can drop out of the automated process because the individual appears to be a permanent resident of Canada.

If the applicant is a permanent resident of Canada, they are not eligible for an eTA. Find information on the travel requirements for Canadian permanent residents.

Procedure

If the applicant is a permanent resident and has not already gone through the formal process of relinquishing their status, they should be contacted to determine whether they would like to voluntarily relinquish their status.

  • If the applicant does not wish to relinquish their status or does not reply to the request, the officer must:
    • withdraw the application; and
    • advise the applicant that they will need to get an appropriate travel document that demonstrates that they are a permanent resident, which may necessitate a determination of their status (PDF, 650 KB).
  • If the applicant would like to relinquish their status:
    • they may do so electronically via their secure IRCC account as part of their eTA application or by submitting a paper application to their local visa office; and
    • once they have done so, and assuming they are otherwise admissible, the officer may issue the eTA.

Adverse information on file for eTA applicant

If the applicant previously applied for entry to Canada—either through an Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) program or through the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at the port of entry—or if they are already known to IRCC, e.g. through intelligence, and if there is adverse information on file for the applicant, it will be uncovered through the automated eTA screening process performed in GCMS, which will cause the application to be referred for manual review.

eTA expansion

Referrals for manual review

As previously noted, eTA expansion cases will be referred for manual review for the same reasons as other eTA applications. However, eTA expansion cases undergo additional automated eligibility checks. Therefore, there are additional points in the eTA processing continuum at which an eTA expansion application may be referred to OSC for manual review.

Assessing eTA expansion eligibility results

As per R7.01(1) and (2), foreign nationals may apply for an eTA only if they meet at least one of the two eligibility requirements:

  • have held a Canadian temporary resident visa (TRV) in the past 10 years
  • hold a valid United States nonimmigrant visa (U.S. NIV).

It should be noted that they must also be travelling to Canada by air.

Revalidating and cancelling an eTA

Periodic revalidations will occur on previously approved eTAs. The system will run checks to allow IRCC and/or the CBSA to reassess holders of an active eTA about whom there is new adverse information. Revalidation can lead to the revocation or cancellation of an eTA after the eTA is issued. To support the policy intent of the eTA program, section 12.06 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) includes provisions to cancel an eTA and prescribes the circumstances in which an officer may do so.

R12.06, describes in what instances, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship has delegated eTA cancellation authorities to CBSA and IRCC officers.

The eTA cancellation provision does not require a formal finding of inadmissibility through another IRPA process (e.g. a report on inadmissibility prepared under section A44) before cancelling an eTA. Rather, the eTA cancellation provisions themselves create the mechanism for an officer to determine that an eTA holder is inadmissible, and cancel the eTA (including in cases where a foreign national at the port of entry is allowed to withdraw their application to come to Canada).

Furthermore, CBSA and IRCC officers may come across cases in which an applicant was issued an eTA but was not eligible to receive one (e.g. an applicant who requires a TRV to Canada mistakenly applies as an applicant from an eTA-required country), as described in the eTA Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement. Such eTAs should be cancelled and the applicant directed to apply for the correct entry document.

In most cases, the officer who enters the adverse information into the system will make a decision on the revalidation at the time they are entering the adverse information since the eTA holder will be right in front of the officer (e.g. in the case of port of entry admissibility assessments). However, to catch any applications needing revalidation, because an admissibility decision has not been made after the new adverse information was entered (i.e. if the officer either forgot to make a decision or did not have sufficient information to make the decision) or where the user entering the information does not have decision-making authority to make a decision on a revalidation case; daily reports will be run and reviewed by OSC. It is important to note that as with most decisions made in the context of the IRPA, the eTA cancellation provision is discretionary. Regardless of the decision to cancel or not, adequate notes should be included in GCMS.

Further, the cancellation authority in section R12.06 gives the authority to cancel an eTA, but it does not constitute an examination under subsection A15(1), so the requirements of section A16 do not apply. This means that while an officer can request additional information from a client regarding new adverse information added to their file, an applicant is under no obligation to provide the requested information, and cannot be compelled to attend an interview.

If an IRCC officer suspects that a client is inadmissible, e.g. because of a poison pen letter or under sections A34 to 37, and the client fails to provide additional information or attend an interview, an officer cannot cancel the eTA as is currently possible in the context of a regular eTA application where subsection A15(1) and section A16 apply, In these cases, an eTA Revalidation info-alert should be entered in the file. The info-alert should match the eTA validity.

Establishing eTA validity

An eTA is valid for five years, until passport expiry or until it is cancelled by an officer, whichever occurs first.

The IRPR also stipulate that an eTA ceases to be valid the day a new eTA is issued to the same person. The only exception to this rule is when an applicant possesses two different types of passports (e.g. a regular passport and a diplomatic passport). In these cases, GCMS has been programmed to allow the applicant to hold multiple eTAs.

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