the CanadaVisa Team - 06 July, 2016
The government of Canada is set to remove Romania and Bulgaria from the list of countries whose citizens require visas in order to travel to Canada. Immigration Minister John McCallum is expected in Brussels this week, where it is expected that progress will be made on resolving a long-standing visa dispute with the two Eastern European countries, both of which are members of the European Union (EU).
In April, Canada and the United States were given an additional three months to comply with the EU's policy of visa reciprocity: countries whose citizens don't need EU visas must, in return, allow visa-free travel for all EU nationals. As it stands, Romania and Bulgaria are the only two EU member states whose citizens require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) in order to travel to Canada. The U.S. requires visas for citizens from five EU member states.
It is unclear if the EU will make good on the threat to impose reciprocity, given the potential economic and political fallout that would follow such a move. With an October signing date now set for the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), Canada must act by lifting the visa requirement, or risk a veto by countries who don't appreciate their citizens being treated as second-class EU citizens.
The European Commission's decision this week to propose CETA as a "mixed" agreement, with respect to jurisdiction, means the European Council must act by consensus to approve the trade deal for ratification. If one or two countries refuse to sign on, they can effectively veto the deal. That would mean Canada's formal signing in October could be delayed or cancelled altogether.
The government of Romania has previously stated that its support for CETA may be linked with Canada's willingness to lift the visa requirement.
If the visa requirement for Romanians and Bulgarians is lifted, the two major consequences would be that it will be easier and cheaper for Romanians and Bulgarians to visit Canada temporarily, and it will be more straightforward for them to apply for Canadian work permits. They would no longer need to apply for a TRV in order to visit, study, or work in Canada. Instead, they will simply need to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) if travelling to Canada by air, a requirement for all travellers from visa-exempt countries other than U.S. citizens. If travelling by land or sea, they would only need to have their travel documentation (i.e. passport) checked at a Canadian Port of Entry.
Last week, Canada lifted a similar requirement on citizens of Mexico.
To learn more, review our comprehensive electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) FAQ.