On December 1st, the Canadian government officially lifted the visa requirement for citizens of Bulgaria and Romania, and some citizens of Brazil. This will allow visitors from these three countries to enter Canada for up to six months for business, family visits, or general tourism. Prospective visitors must however keep in mind that they will still need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) in order to fly to or transit through a Canadian airport. Eligibility factors are limited for Brazil nationals, however; in fact, only visitors that have held a Canadian visitor visa in the past 10 years or currently hold a valid U.S. nonimmigrant visa are eligible to apply for an eTA. This news is controversial, as only a small portion of the Brazil population holds a U.S. visa, or has held a Canadian visa in the past 10 years. Thus, most Brazil nationals still require visitor visas, but as the negotiations continue, there are hopes for a full switch to eTAs for Brazilians.
The Canadian government has decided to move forward with lifting the visa requirement after long-term negotiations with Brazilian, Bulgarian and Romanian officials, in order to demonstrate the importance the Canadian government places on the European Union and Latin America, in the midst of current events.
In fact, the Canadian government seems to be symbolically moving towards replacing tourist visas with eTAs for countries which hold ideologies that align with Canada’s. In fact, in 2016, the visa requirements were lifted from the country of Mexico, coincidentally occurring at the same time as President Trump’s public remarks on his plans to repeal NAFTA, the trade agreement between Canada, Mexico, and the United States.
Another reason for this switch from visas to eTAs could possibly be to reduce the workload on Canadian visa officers to process these short-term visas. Indeed, moving towards a fully computerized system could largely benefit the quality of the work put into visa application reviews, as well as shorten processing times.
For more information, contact Véronique Malka, Chair of the Canadian Practice group at CKR Law LLP, at email@example.com.