Last Updated: September 22, 2023, 11:06 IST
Amid the diplomatic rift between India and Canada, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has announced temporarily suspending issuance of visas to Canadian citizens in view of “security threats” faced by its high commission and consulates in Canada.
The relations between the two countries turned sour after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged ‘involvement of Indian agent’ in the killing of a Khalistani separatist on Canadian soil.
MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, while announcing the visa restrictions, said, “You are aware of the security threats being faced by our High Commission and consulates in Canada. These have disrupted their normal functioning. Accordingly, our High Commission and consulates are temporarily unable to process visa applications. We will be reviewing the situation on a regular basis.”
He added that suspension of visa facility in Indian missions in Canada will also be enforced for third-country applicants who may choose to apply for visas through Indian missions in Canada.
A notice by BLS International, a private firm hired for initial scrutiny of visa applications of Canadian nationals, said, “Due to operational reasons… Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice”.
Here is all you need to know about who gets affected and who all will be allowed to travel and how long will the visa restrictions last.
Who Will be impacted?
All Canadian nationals who intend to visit India and do not have a visa will be affected by the suspension of visa services. This will include Canadian citizens, tourists, business travellers and students who were intending to travel to India.
Moreover, the relatives and family members of India citizens who were planning to travel to India to visit family or friends will also be affected.
Will Indian-origin Canadians will be impacted?
Indian-origin Canadians who have a valid Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card or a long-term visa for India will not be impacted by the suspension of visa services, according to The Indian Express. The OCI cards holders enjoy lifetime entry into India, and can live and work in the country indefinitely.
What happens to Canadians already having a visa?
The Indian government has announced suspension of visa services. But those Canadians having a prior Indian visa will not be impacted by the decision. As of now, their visa is valid and they can travel to India.
Will It Affect Tourism?
Yes. Tourism experts in India were expecting a large number of tourists from Canada to visit in the winter months as foreign tourism was boosting after the Covid-19 pandemic. It was being believed that after 2-3 years of restrictions, the coming season would have been very busy.
What happens to Indians currently in Canada?
India has advised all its nationals living in Canada and those contemplating travelling there to exercise “utmost caution” in view of growing anti-India activities and “politically-condoned” hate crimes.
How Long will the Restrictions Remain
Though the government has announced suspension of visa services temporarily, there is no mention of timeline. The suspension is expected to remain the way till the political and diplomatic relations between the two countries evolve.
MEA Spokesperson Bagchi has said the situation will be reviewed regularly.
Human Ties Between the Two Country
Canada accounts for one of the largest Indian diasporas in the world. Indian-origin population accounts for 3 percent of Canada’s population.
The country has 1.6 million people of Indian origin, more than 700,000 NRI’s and a Sikh population of more than 7,70,000 (about 2 percent of total population). Since 2018, India has been the largest source country for international students in Canada.