Travel visa changes announced for Mexican citizens travelling to Canada

Updated April 5, 2024, to reflect recent changes

On February 29, 2024, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) announced updated travel requirements for Mexican citizens coming to Canada, citing concerns about increased numbers of asylum claims being made.

Most notably, these changes will reintroduce the requirement that certain Mexican citizens obtain a Temporary Resident Visa (“TRV”), sometimes referred to as a Visitor Visa, before travelling to Canada. Prior to this announcement, all Mexican travellers were TRV exempt. Once the changes take effect, only Mexican travelers who hold a valid U.S. non-immigrant visa or have held a Canadian visa in the past 10 years will be TRV exempt. Mexican citizens who do not fall into one of these categories will now need to apply for and obtain a Canadian TRV online prior to travelling to Canada.

These changes will impact some Mexican citizens who want to apply for a Canadian work or study permit. Mexican citizens who require a TRV prior to travel will no longer be eligible to apply for their initial permits at the port of entry.

Mexican citizens who want to visit, work or study in Canada, as well as Canadian employers looking to the international labour market, should be aware of these recent changes. A further summary of the rule changes is as follows:

  • Mexican citizens that hold a valid U.S. non-immigrant visa or have held a Canadian visa in the past 10 years and are travelling by air on a Mexican passport can apply for an electronic travel authorization (“eTA”).  An eTA is not required for travel by land.
  • Mexican citizens are no longer considered Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) exempt under R190 and thus are no longer eligible to apply for work permits at the port of entry.
  • Mexican citizens who do not meet the above conditions will need to apply for a Canadian TRV. This also applies to Mexican citizens travelling to Canada by land or sea. Work and study permit applications made online from outside Canada come with a TRV.
  • All eTAs issued to Mexican passport holders before 11:30 p.m. Eastern time on February 29, 2024, will be cancelled, except for those linked to Mexican passports with a valid Canadian work or study permit.
  • Mexican visitors (non-work or study travel) already in Canada on an eTA may stay in Canada as long as they are authorized but will need to apply for a new eTA or a TRV (as the case may be) if they wish to leave and re-enter the country.
  • Canada is expanding its network of visa application centres in Mexico to better serve Mexican citizens (further details are available on the IRCC website).
  • In addition to these changes, Canada is working with Mexico to modernize the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) to support the mutually beneficial migration that both countries seek to promote. The new SAWP bilateral agreement will offer Mexican workers expanded opportunities in year-round primary agriculture and seasonal fish, seafood and primary food processing sectors.

Canada will continue to welcome Mexican temporary workers, students, visitors and immigrants who bring diverse skills that benefit Canada’s economy. It is hoped that these changes will maintain these benefits while ensuring Canadian social systems continue to have capacity to support asylum seekers currently in Canada.

To learn more about how these changes could impact you and your organization, contact a member of MLT Aikins Immigration team today.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.