Luba Dinkova – Pace Immigration: On May 1, 2017, eligible citizens from Bulgaria, Brazil and Romania have the green light to travel to Canada without obtaining a temporary resident visa (TRV). People from these countries who either have held visas for Canada or United States in the past 10 years, or presently have a valid visitor visa, must still apply for an eTA (electronic Travel Authorization). Travelers who do not meet this criteria will still have to apply for a visitor visa.
The full lifting of visa requirements for Bulgarias and Romanians is scheduled for December 1, 2017. The government has not confirmed that the full changes in December 2017 will apply to the citizens of Brazil.
The news of the coming December changes is very welcome for Bulgarians and Romanians. They will save a lot of time and money when obtaining visitor visas. The full changes will also include international students and temporary workers who will be exempt from TRV. Visitors will not need to apply for an eTA if they have a valid visa in their passport, and they can travel on that visitor visa until it expires. Also, if they have dual citizenship (for example of Bulgaria and Australia), they can apply for an eTA based on the fact that Australia is a visa-exempt country.
Why The Change?
This development comes at the same time as the European Union dismissing talk of a visa requirement for Canadians and Americans. The timing is not coincidental:
The [European] Commission considers that, in view of the significant progress achieved during the last year and the positive momentum of ongoing work, the temporary suspension of visa waivers for nationals of Canada and the United States would be counterproductive at this moment and would not serve the objective of achieving visa-free travel for all EU citizens. The Commission’s diplomatic approach meanwhile has already started to bring tangible results: Canada lifted the visa requirements for some categories of Bulgarian and Romanian citizens on 1 May 2017 and is set to achieve full reciprocity as of 1 December 2017 and contacts have been re-launched with the new U.S. administration to push for full visa reciprocity for the five EU Member States concerned.
Politics And Visas
It will be interesting to see what the future holds for the new visa agreement with the EU. Last year, Canada lifted the visa requirement for Mexican citizens, in a quid pro quo for Mexico accepting Canadian beef exports. As we wrote last year, that decision came amid concern that there would be a spike in Mexican asylum claims in Canada. The same concerns hold true for the future of some EU passport holders. There have been recent reports of those with a Roma background having trouble boarding flights to Canada. While this should not happen in the future to those with valid visas, a spike in asylum claims would likely see the Canadian government re-visit the issue.