Effective February 29, 2024, the Canadian government has reimposed visa requirements on certain Mexican nationals. Under the new rule, Mexican nationals traveling by air who hold a U.S. nonimmigrant visa or have held a Canadian visa within the past ten years will be eligible to apply for electronic travel authorization (eTA) to visit Canada. Mexican nationals who do not meet those requirements will need to apply for a Canadian visitor visa. Canada had previously lifted visa requirements for Mexican nationals in 2016.

Reimposing Visa Requirements on Mexican Nationals

In announcing the new visa rules, the Canadian government explained that the move is a response to a growing number of asylum claims by Mexican nationals, most of which are ultimately refused, withdrawn, or abandoned. The government indicated that the rule is intended to ease pressure on Canada’s immigration and asylum system while preserving mobility for Mexican nationals who wish to visit Canada.

Under the new rule, Mexican nationals are eligible for an eTA only if they meet the three following requirements:

  • The traveler is using a valid Mexican passport to fly to Canada or to transit through a Canadian airport to another destination;
  • The traveler is coming to Canada for a short visit (normally for stays of up to 6 months); and
  • The traveler either:
    • Has held a Canadian visitor visa (temporary resident visa) in the past 10 years; or
    • Currently holds a valid U.S. nonimmigrant visa.

An eTA is valid only for travel to Canada by air. A visitor visa is required if a traveler plans to enter Canada by car, bus, train, or boat, including cruise ships (even if the traveler does not leave the ship).

With the change, all electronic travel authorizations for Mexican nationals are automatically canceled unless they also have a valid work or study permit. Mexican nationals with eTAs in progress will need to apply for a new eTA or for a visitor visa. The changes apply even if the visitor has already booked travel. Having pre-booked travel plans or a previously valid eTA does not guarantee the visitor will be approved for a new eTA or a visa. Individuals who are unsure whether they are eligible for an eTA or instead require a visa utilize the government’s visa wizard. Wait times for visitor visa appointments at the Canadian embassy in Mexico are approximately 40 days at present.

Mexican nationals who are already in Canada may remain in the country as long as they are authorized to do so. Study and work permit holders in Canada are not required to apply for a new eTA and may continue traveling on their existing eTA for as long as it remains valid.

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