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Mexican citizens will once again have to apply for a visitor visa, starting February 29, 2024, at 11:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is also cancelling existing electronic Travel Authorizations (eTAs) for Mexican passport holders who do not also have a work or study permit.

However, the visitor visa requirement does not apply to Mexican citizens who hold a valid US non-immigrant visa or have held a Canadian visa in the past 10 years and are travelling by air. With a Mexican passport in hand, these travellers will still be able to apply for an eTA.

Canada originally lifted the requirement for a visitor visa from Mexican citizens in 2016. But since then, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has experienced an increase in asylum claims made by Mexican citizens that are refused, withdrawn or abandoned.

In a media release, IRCC calls the decision to re-instate visitor visas on Mexicans “a step to preserve mobility for hundreds of thousands of Mexican citizens [with US non-immigrant visas or past Canadian visas], while also ensuring the sound management of Canada’s immigration and asylum systems.”

IRCC says the majority of Mexican citizens will continue to have visa-free travel to Canada.


Will Canada work permits, study permits change for Mexicans?

The application process for Mexican citizens seeking a work or study permit will not change. IRCC wants to ensure Mexicans have access to various labor pathways, including the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and the International Mobility Program.

Canada is also expanding its network of visa application centers in Mexico to better serve its clients. The Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) is highlighted as a mutually beneficial migration example, with plans for its modernization through a new bilateral agreement to include year-round primary agriculture and seasonal fish, seafood, and primary food processing.

Why do Mexicans need a visitor visa for Canada?

Canada is continuously monitoring the impacts of its visa policies for both visa-exempt and visa-required countries, as well as asylum claim trends. These challenges are not limited to one country. IRCC says any adjustment to Canada’s travel requirements are made to preserve the integrity and sustainability of its asylum and immigration systems.

“Mexico is an important partner to Canada. We will continue to welcome Mexican temporary workers, students, visitors and immigrants who bring diverse skills and important contributions to our economy and communities,” says Immigration Minister Marc Miller. “We strive for balance between the movement of people between our two great countries, and the need to relieve pressure on our immigration system so we can provide protection to those who need it the most.”

Asylum claims made by Mexican citizens reached a record high in 2023 at a time when Canada’s asylum system, housing and social services were already under significant pressure. The majority of these claims (about 60 percent) were either rejected by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, or withdrawn or abandoned by the applicant.

In 2023 alone, asylum claims from Mexican citizens accounted for 17 percent of all claims made that year from all nationalities around the world. The country’s asylum claim rate has risen significantly since the visa was first lifted in 2016 (from 260 claims in 2016 to 23,995 claims in 2023).

For more information on these changes, including details for those in transit or with upcoming flights, IRCC encourages travellers to visit the IRCC website.

What to do if you are Mexican and have booked travel to Canada?

First of all, you can determine whether you need a visa to travel to Canada by using the tool on the government’s website.

If you’re a Mexican visitor who had an eTA, or applied for one, before 11:30 p.m. ET on February 29, 2024, you won’t be able to use it to travel.

Before you can travel to Canada, you need to either apply and be approved for an eTA under the new rules or be approved for a visitor’s visa.

Under the new rules, you must meet all three requirements to get an eTA, according to the government’s website:

  1. You’re using a valid Mexican passport to fly to Canada or to transit through a Canadian airport to another destination.
  2. You’re coming to Canada for a short visit (normally for stays of up to 6 months).
  3. You either
    • have held a Canadian visitor visa (temporary resident visa) in the past 10 years or
    • currently hold a valid United States nonimmigrant visa

It is important to note that eTAs for Mexicans are for air travel only. Anyone travelling to Canada by car, bus, train, boat, or cruise ship (even if you don’t leave the ship) requires a visitor visa.

The government expects these changes to impact about 40 percent of visitors from Mexico.

If you are already in Canada, you can stay for as long as your status is valid—but your eTA will be cancelled. Which means, if you leave Canada, you will need a visitor visa or a new eTA issued after February 29, 2024, in order to return.

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About the author

Shelby Thevenot

Shelby Thevenot

Canadian Immigration Writer
Shelby is a journalist, freelance writer, and expert news analyst with more than five years of experience in writing about Canadian immigration.
Read more about Shelby Thevenot
Citation "Canada changes travel requirements for Mexican citizens." Moving2Canada. . Copy for Citation


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