October 31, 2007
by Andris Straumanis, Latvians Online
Canada has lifted its visa requirement for citizens of Latvia effective immediately, Diane Finley, Canada’s minister of citizenship and immigration, announced Oct. 31.
That means Latvian citizens will be able to travel to Canada with just their passport.
The news was immediately welcomed by the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has been pushing for both Canada and the United States to lift visa requirements.
Canada also lifted the visa requirement for travelers from the Czech Republic.
“Canada enjoys strong ties with both of these countries, and lifting the visa requirement will help us build on those relationships to the benefit of Canadians and the citizens of the Republic of Latvia and the Czech Republic,” Finley said in a press release.
Latvian citizens will be able to stay in Canada for up to six months during a year. Almost 1,100 temporary resident visas were issued by Canada to Latvian citizens last year.
The Latvian Foreign Ministry said in a press release that it is convinced Canada will extend the visa-free status to other new members of the European Union. Estonia was granted visa-free status last year, but Lithuanian citizens still need a visa to visit Canada.
Canada has been warned by the European Union that if it does not extend visa-free status to all EU nations, then the EU might retaliate by adopting visa requirements for certain classes of travelers.
The U.S. visa requirement for Latvian citizens remains in place, but Prime Minister Aigars Kalvītis is visiting Washington, D.C., from Oct. 31 to Nov. 1 in part to lobby for adding Latvia to the Visa Waiver Program.
Andris Straumanis is editor of Latvians Online.
Octobr 17, 2008 - President Bush Discusses the Visa Waiver Program
Office of the Press Secretary/
White House News
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. (Applause.) Please be seated, thank you. Welcome to the White House. I'm pleased to stand with the representatives of seven countries -- the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and South Korea -- that have met the requirements to be admitted to the United States Visa Waiver Program. Soon the citizens of these nations will be able to travel to the United States for business or tourism without a visa. I congratulate these close friends and allies on this achievement, and I thank you for joining us here.
I also thank Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of the Homeland -- Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff for working hard to make sure this day has finally arrived. Appreciate other members of the administration here and members of the Diplomatic Corps.
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