The Canadian Embassy in the Philippines announced Wednesday that some Filipinos can now enter their country by air without a visa.

For Philippine citizens to be eligible for visa-free entry, they must have either held a Canadian visa in the last 10 years or currently hold a valid US non-immigrant visa.

Instead of applying for a visa, these eligible Filipinos will just apply for an electronic travel authorization (eTA), a digital travel document that most visa-exempt travelers need to travel to or transit through Canada by air.

Canadian officials use the eTA to conduct light-touch, pre-travel screening of air travelers.

It costs CAN$7 (around P293) to apply for an eTA and the Canadian Embassy says most applications are automatically approved within minutes.

Applying for an eTA requires only a valid passport, a credit card, an email address and access to the internet, the Canadian Embassy said.

Once approved, Filipino visitors can stay in Canada for up to six months for either business or leisure.

Visa-free entry to Canada for eligible Filipinos is only applicable for air travel, so those traveling by land or sea must still secure a visitor visa.

'Growing friendship' between nations

Sean Fraser, Canada's immigration minister, said the decision to relax visa requirements for Filipinos will make traveling to their country more convenient, increase travel, tourism and economic benefits, and strengthen their bond with the Philippines.

'Canada is a destination of choice for so many around the world. We're making it easier for more people to visit Canada, whether they're coming to do business, sightsee, or reunite with family and friends,' Canadian foreign minister Mélanie Joly said.

Joly added that expanding the eTA program to include the Philippines is a key part of their strategy in the Indo-Pacific region, which they want to engage further, build on people-to-people ties, and make travel to Canada easier, faster and safer.

Enrique Manalo, the Philippines' foreign affairs secretary, called the inclusion of the Philippines in the eTA program 'an important milestone and a striking indication of Canada's growing friendship and trust in the Philippines.'

'The Philippines considers Canada as a close partner due to its well-established people-to-people ties and looks forward to charting a new era of engagement under this new policy,' Manalo said.


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