Surge in visa-free travel applicants from PH crashes Canada’s portal
A surge in the number of Filipino applicants caused Canada’s portal for visa-free travel to crash.
From June 8 to June 10 for Canada’s eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization) was put out of operation by a “significant surge in demand,” said Canada Immigration Minister Sean Fraser in a report by CBC News.
Last June 6, Canada announced that eligible citizens from 13 countries, including the Philippines, can apply to enter the country without a visa as long they have either held a Canadian visa in the last 10 years or are currently hold a valid United States non-immigrant visa.
Fraser said the Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) received up to 25,000 eTA applications online a day after the expansion, “disproportionately from the Philippines.” The eTA costs $7 or around 290 pesos (Philippines).
The crash happened because IRCC did not adequately prepare for the surge in applications following the expansion of the eTA system to include the 13 new countries with a combined population of over a quarter of a billion people.
“We did foresee a significant surge in demand, but it exceeded our expectations,” Fraser told CBC News.
Of the 13 countries, the Philippines is the only one with a population that exceeds 100 million. Currently, there are nearly a million Filipino immigrants in Canada, making them the fourth largest immigrant group.
However, the system crash affected many passengers who hold passports from existing visa-free countries, like Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and most of members of the European Union who wanted to enter Canada or were transiting through to other destinations during the said period. They were not allowed to board their flights.
Fraser told CBC News that the government should compensate the affected passengers for their losses.
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Sisters Ana and Gloria Garcia Mendoza, who own a flower shop, lost what would have been their first-ever trip outside of Mexico. They intended to attend the graduation ceremony of their niece, Patricia, at the University of British Columbia.
One of the two women has stage four cancer. Aside from driving for five hours to get to the airport, the two lost their non-refundable ticket and had to pay for overnight accommodation, forcing them to spend over $3,000 for everything.
Fraser said that his department is gathering information about who was affected and how. “When we come to understand what the consequences may have been for travelers, we’ll be in a better position to understand what solutions we may be able to offer.”