Canada Retains Visa Requirements for Bulgarians, Romanians

Politics | November 15, 2013, Friday // 10:25|  views

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Canada has lifted the visa requirements on visitors from the Czech Republic but the regime remains in place for Bulgarians and Romanians.

The visa requirements for visitors from Romania and Bulgaria are preserved over concerns about human trafficking and organized crime gangs, according to Immigration Minister Chris Alexander.

Effective immediately, the Czech Republic joins 50 other states whose nationals can travel to Canada freely.

Last month, Canada and the European Union signed an agreement in principle on a free trade deal which still requires the final approval of the EU's 28 member countries. There have been fears that Canada's visa requirements may cause the affected countries to take steps to block the agreement, according to Canadian media.

Canada originally imposed the visa restrictions to counter bogus refugee claims by large numbers of ethnic Roma applicants from European countries.

Chris Alexander, Canada's Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, assured in a Thursday statement that the country's asylum system had been upgraded so as to prevent abuse.

He explained, however that Romania and Bulgaria still had a lot of work to do before being allowed visa-free travel, especially in the sphere or countering organized crime..

"This obviously relates to the conclusion of the Canada-Europe comprehensive trade agreement but also to the hard work that has been done on both sides," he stated.

"It has to be said that the work with Romania and Bulgaria as with our partners in Latin America is not as far advanced as it was with the Czech Republic."

He explained that the decision to lift restrictions depended on several factors, including the number of asylum claims and the potential presence of human trafficking and organized crime behind some of these applications.

"Those are the fronts on which we need to see progress before we are in a position to make the kind of announcement that we are making today," Alexander said.

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Tags: visa regime, visa requirements, canada, organized crime, asylum seekers, free trade agreement


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