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Canada visitor visa requirements for citizens of Bulgaria and Romania changed on December 1, 2017.

Romanians and Bulgarians wishing to visit Canada on a temporary basis will be able to do so without first having to apply for a Canadian visitor visa, also known as a Temporary Resident Visa, or TRV.

The visa requirement for citizens of Romania and Bulgaria was removed on December 1, 2017. Citizens of those countries will now be able to enter Canada without a visa, though individuals entering Canada by air will need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) before boarding their flight to Canada.

Romania and Bulgaria join the list of countries designated as visa-exempt by the government of Canada. Earlier this year, Canada made some, though not all, Romanians and Bulgarians exempt from the Canada visitor visa requirement. Specifically, since May 1 Romanians and Bulgarians who held a Canadian visa issued within the last 10 years or who held a valid visitor visa for the United States could apply for an eTA. This exemption has now been extended to all Romanians and Bulgarians.

The process of obtaining an eTA is cheaper, quicker, and less onerous than the TRV application process. Visa-exempt individuals are deemed low risk for violating the terms of their entry to Canada, such as overstaying or working without obtaining the right to do so. They are also deemed low risk for making a refugee claim upon arrival in Canada.

The only country whose citizens require neither a TRV or an eTA is the United States.

Canada eTA: what is this?

The eTA pre-screening system was first introduced in August 2015 and become mandatory for visa-exempt visitors to Canada in November, 2016 after a lengthy roll-out period. It is similar to the ESTA system that has been used by the United States since 2010.

Previously, visa-exempt visitors to Canada arriving by air were assessed for admissibility to Canada upon arrival at an airport.

The process of applying for an eTA is simple and typically only takes a few minutes to complete. Applicants complete an online form, in which they provide some personal information and answer a few basic questions relating to criminality or medical issues, as well as questions concerning their immigration history. Most applications are processed within minutes, though some may take longer to process, so applicants are encouraged not to leave the task until the final hours or minutes before departure.

To complete the online form, applicants need:

  • a valid passport from a visa-exempt country;
  • a credit card to pay the $7 CAD fee;
  • a valid email address; and
  • access to the internet.

The eTA is linked to the applicant’s passport and is valid for a period of five years from the day on which it is issued or until the earliest of the following days, if they occur before the end of five years:

  • the day on which the applicant’s passport or other travel document expires;
  • the day on which the eTA is cancelled; or
  • the day on which a new eTA is issued to the applicant.

As of August 2015, foreign workers and international students from visa-exempt countries automatically receive an eTA with the issuance of their work permit or study permit.

According to the 2016 census, more than 90,000 people born in Romania were living in Canada as permanent residents or naturalized citizens of Canada. Now that the process of coming to Canada on temporary basis is easier for their countrymen and women, these residents of Canada will be able to welcome their fellow citizens as visitors more easily than previously. The same, of course, goes for Bulgarians wishing to visit Canada.

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