India is temporarily suspending all visa services for Canadians in the wake of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s bombshell allegation that New Delhi was involved in the killing of a Sikh leader in British Columbia.
Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi confirmed there is temporary suspension of all visa services for Canadians, including e-visas and visas issued in third countries.
BLS, the agency that processes visa requests for India, including for entry, tourist, student and employment purposes, posted on its website: “Due to operational reasons, with effect from 21 September 2023, Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice.”
The move has sparked confusion as to what the suspension will mean for Canadians planning to travel to India.
Here’s what we know so far.
What types of visas are affected by the suspension?
All types of visas are affected, including for work, business and tourism. Applications through the online e-visa program are also suspended. According to Mr. Bagchi, any application that would have to go through the high commission of India in Ottawa or another Indian consulate are included in the pause.
Can I still travel to India if I have already received a visa to travel to India, or have a valid Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card?
Those who already have an OCI card, a Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card, or a valid visa of any kind can still travel to India, because only new visa applications are affected by the suspension.
“The issue is not about travel to India. Those who have valid visas, those who have other kinds of documents like OCIs are free to travel to India. But the issue is of incitement of violence and the creation of an environment that disrupts the functioning of our high commission and consulates,” Mr. Bagchi said in a news conference.
I’m a permanent resident in Canada. Can I still visit India?
There are currently no changes to permanent residency policies for Indian citizens living in Canada, and permanent residents can still travel to India and back. On Sept. 20, the Indian government requested all Indian citizens living or studying in Canada register with the high commission or an Indian consulate to “better connect … in the event of any emergency or untoward incident.”
How are Canada’s consulates in India affected?
Canada’s embassy in New Delhi remains open, as do Canadian consulates across India, said Global Affairs spokesman Jean-Pierre Godbout in a statement. However, the Canadian government is reducing staff levels at its diplomatic missions in India, citing fear for the safety of its employees. This reduction in staff will likely mean disruptions for members of Canada’s Indian diaspora who maintain business or administrative ties with the country, explains Mississauga, Ont., paralegal Bobby Sidhu. “It’s definitely going to affect the lives of many, many Indian-Canadian citizens,” Mr. Sidhu said.
With reports from Steven Chase, Robert Fife and the Associated Press
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