Dual citizens needing a Canadian passport to enter country get a break from feds

The Canadian government is giving dual citizens a break over a new passport policy that caught many by surprise.

The immigration and citizenship department is extending the leniency period for the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) requirement, which will require all Canadian citizens including the nearly one million dual citizens to have a valid Canadian passport when flying into the country.

The six-month leniency period has been extended to Nov. 9 from Sept. 30, according to a news release from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada on Tuesday. The release also says that U.S. citizens will not fall under the same eTA requirement that will apply to other visa-exempt travellers as of Nov. 10.

“In consultation with airline partners, we’re taking further steps to minimize any travel disruptions,” Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister John McCallum, says in the release. “We are extending the leniency period and doing another major information blitz in Canada and abroad to encourage affected travellers, including dual Canadian citizens, to plan ahead and get the necessary travel documents before they book a flight to Canada.”

Right now Canadians can use their passport from another country to enter this one as long as they provide proof of Canadian residency, including a driver’s licence or citizenship card.

The new rule was first announced in March 2016, the Canadian government says. Since the application process went live in August 2015 close to two million visa-exempt foreign nationals have applied for an eTA online.

The release says “eTA was a key commitment under the Canada U.S. Beyond the Border Action Plan to develop a common approach to pre-screening air travellers coming to either country.”

The new eTA requirement helps identify people who are inadmissible to Canada in order to prevent them from travelling to the country, the release reads. Once issued, an eTA is valid for five years or until a traveller’s passport expires.

At least 2.9 per cent of Canadians, or 944,700 people, hold multiple citizenships, according to the 2011 census. The most common country for multiple citizenships is the United States, followed by the United Kingdom, France and Poland.

The new policy on passport use only applies to entry into Canada by air and excludes land and sea arrivals.

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