Minister eases visa restrictions for four EU countries
By: Radhika Panjwani
March 1, 2008 03:22 PM –
Citizens of Poland, Slovakia, Lithuania and Hungary will no longer require short-term visas to visit their family and friends in Canada.
The easing of visa requirements was announced by Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, today, Saturday, March 1 at Watline Ave., near Hurontario St. and Hwy. 401 in Mississauga.
Canada has determined that removing the visa requirements for these four countries is appropriate at this time, Finley told the audience.
Our government enjoys strong ties with these countries and this will only strengthen those relationships.
The minister said more than 40,000 people from these four countries visited Canada in 2006.
Visa restrictions were removed for Estonia, Czech Republic and Latvia last year.
Finley said the government was also reviewing the visa requirements for the European Union's New Member States such as Romania and Bulgaria.
Today's decision demonstrates Canada's commitment to free and secure movement of people between the European Union (EU) and Canada, she said.
Ambassadors of the four countries welcomed the government's decision.
Piotr Ogrodzinski, Ambassador of Poland, said the lifting of short-term visa requirements will improve and strengthen the relationship between the two countries. Ogrodzinski said Poland removed visa restrictions in 2004 for Canadians who visited his country.
Canada has a large Polish community. The people-to-people ties are the basis of those relations, Ogrodzinski said. The government decisions sometimes take a long time before the people they serve can enjoy them, this is a decision which will be enjoyed by Canadian-
Polish community straight away, in fact immediately.
Twelve countries joined the EU in 2004 and 2007. With today's decision, travel to Canada from all but two (Bulgaria and Romania) of EU's 27 countries is now visa-free.