As of May 2017, Canada plans to introduce a new regulation for visa-free travel for Bulgarians and Romanians who meet the criteria of holding a valid U.S. visa, as well as those who have previously traveled to Canada, or individuals whose travel is business-related. By the beginning of December 2017, Canada intends to extend visa-free travel to all Bulgarian and Romanian citizens, subsequently eliminating the need for a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) in order to visit Canada.
This move, which aims to ease tension involving Bulgarian citizens, is largely a reaction to a controversial European Union free trade deal currently being settled with Canada. The trade deal, known as Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (or CETA) will continue to earn reluctant support from Bulgaria and Romania should Canada fail to implement a visa-waiver entry system for Bulgarian and Romanian people.
Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, initially held a private discussion about lifting the visa regulation with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Brissov, though the conversation was later extended to recent EU-Canada Summit Joint Declaration negotiations over the past weekend. In exchange for Bulgarian and Romanian approval of the CETA agreement, Canadian officials vowed to lift visa requirements, with the government press stating that “[the] Canadian government will make efforts that all other Bulgarians can travel without visas by the end of 2017."
However, there will be necessary stages for acquiring visa-free travel: the first phase of the plan will exclude those who have previously obtained a TRV over the last decade from having to re-apply to enter Canada. Instead, travelers will be required to obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), which doubles as Canada’s latest method of pre-screening foreign travelers from visa-exempt countries.
As outlined by the EU-Canada Summit Joint Declaration, Canada’s decision in regards to Bulgarian and Romanian citizens aims to “further facilitate the strong cultural, educational, family and business relations that exist between Canada and Europe.”
Although Bulgarian and Romanian citizens prefer to see a faster route for visa-free travel, Canada has made it clear that the process will be gradual, starting with only a portion of citizens who fit the criteria previously outlined. Even so, Bulgarians and Romanians will soon join many visitors from across the world that will not need to acquire a temporary visa to enter Canada.
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