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UAE join list of countries with visa-free access to Canada

Citizens for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will be able to visit Canada without obtaining an entry visa from June 5. The announcement was made during a meeting in Ottawa between Canada's Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan,  UAE's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Sheikh Abdullah praised the decision saying that it affirms the distinguished ties between Canada and the UAE.

"The UAE is a key strategic partner and lifting the visa requirement will help reaffirm the strong relationship between our two countries. It will also promote increased tourism, cultural, academic and study exchanges, as well as foster new business, trade, and investment opportunities," he said.

The decision was reached after an evaluation found that the UAE meets Canada's criteria for visa exemption. There is a thorough list of requirements which countries must meet to qualify for visa-free status.

Around 40,000 Canadians live and work in the UAE and around 150 Canadian companies operating there.

Emiratis will need to enroll with ETA before traveling

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Officially, the policy will change at exactly 5:30am Eastern Time (1:30pm Gulf Standard Time) on June 5. Emiratis will be able to enter Canada for short stays though the time period has not yet been specified (normally either three months or six months) without obtaining a traditional visa.

However, like other visa-exempt travelers who go to Canada, Emiratis will need to apply for and obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) to enter Canada. ETA was designed to allow the Canadian Authorities to screen travelers before they arrive by crosschecking their information against relevant security databases.

The ETA application is completed online, saving travelers the hassle of physically going to a Canadian Visa Application Centers (VACS). The application only takes a matter of minutes to complete. In the meantime, Emiratis can still apply for conventional visas at VACs such as the ones in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

There is already a significant amount of nationalities which can enter Canada visa-free. These include the US, all EU countries, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea.

There are some requirements which visitors need to meet be able to successfully enroll with ETA. They need to be in good health, have the means to return to their country of origin, and in some cases, it may be necessary to provide a letter of invitation or have a medical check-up (and provide the documentation).