Canada will lift a visa requirement for Romanian and Bulgarian travelers at the end of next year and ease some restrictions before then, the government announced.
The two EU nations had made visa-free travel a key condition for their support of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) that was signed by Canada and the EU on Sunday.
After Romania and Bulgaria reached a deal with Ottawa a week ago on the visa waivers — which will go into effect on December 1, 2017 — they lifted their respective threats to block the free trade accord.
"Lifting the visa requirements for Romania and Bulgaria will mean visa-free travel to Canada for citizens of all EU member states. We will all benefit from the increase in travel and trade that results," Immigration Minister John McCallum said in a statement.
The visa restriction was meant to stop a feared wave of refugee claims by ethnic Roma, also known as gypsies, but created tensions between the EU and Canada.
In the lead-up to the full visa lifting, Ottawa said Romanian and Bulgarian citizens who have held a Canadian temporary resident visa in the past 10 years or who hold a valid US non-immigrant visa would be exempted from the visa requirement.