PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- Canada says it is lifting visa requirements for Czech nationals, a thorny issue that had threatened to derail a new free trade agreement between the European Union and Canada.

Canada's ambassador, Otto Jelinek, said Thursday the decision follows changes to immigration rules.

Canada abolished visas for Czech citizens in 2007 but re-imposed them two years later because of concerns over an excessive number of asylum-seekers, most of them Roma, or Gypsies, saying they were discriminated at home.

The Czechs had threatened to block the free-trade deal Canada signed with the EU last month over the restriction.