Canadian Travelers Encounter Obstacles on Their Way to India

Canada, India
#visapolicy #visadenial

On Thursday, a constant stream of individuals carrying bundles of paperwork and brown folders appeared around the side of an unremarkable Surrey, British Columbia building at regular intervals. A single security guard opened the door just slightly, beneath a sign for BLS International, to have a discreet conversation with those outside.

After the Indian government banned visa services for Canadian nationals, the organisation that usually handles visa requests for India was busy all morning. This was just one more development in the diplomatic war that is now beginning to have an impact on regular people.

There are a significant number of Indian nationals residing in Canada as permanent or temporary residents using work or study visas. The current crisis will have an adverse effect on them by limiting their movement.

Uncertainty at BLS International

Despite the suspension, many of the persons waiting on Thursday had appointments and were seeking clarification.

Manbir Singh, who is attempting to get his paperwork in order before heading to India for family weddings in November and January, said that although the issue was complicated if we were unable to travel, it would be us rather than the diplomats who would suffer.

"There are also folks who don't have [health] coverage here who would wish to go back to India for better service," he said. "Others have more urgent needs." 

Diplomatic Conflict Hits Everyday Travelers

Many people who visited the organisation expressed that the situation between Canada and India was making them more tense. Due to the suspension, Canadians who do not already possess visas would be unable to visit India until services are once again available.

Santosh Sandhu, who has already paid for travel for October, said that the disagreement "has left us all distraught." However, on Thursday, she could not obtain any information from BLS regarding her visa status.

Justin Trudeau while adressing the pressing issue - Canadian Travelers Encounter Obstacles traveling to India

Although some were reluctant to talk with reporters for fear that it might harm their applications, it was generally accepted that persons flying for health reasons or special occasions like weddings and the Diwali festival later in the autumn are most affected by visa delays at this time of year.

India's abrupt move to halt visa processing is having a significant negative impact on Canadians who want to visit. The Indian government claims that security issues at Canadian visa offices are to blame.

Raj Sharma, an immigration attorney, stated that "every time we deal with international disputes, ordinary people find themselves caught in the crossfire."

According to Sharma, the suspension of visas will effectively put a stop to some sectors of international trade, business, and research.

Raj Sharma, an immigration attorney, claims that due to the conflict between the two nations, the Indian diaspora feels "stranded" due to India's closure of its Canadian visa processing facilities.

Canada-India Relationship in Crisis

This week, after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there were "credible allegations" that the Indian government had a hand in the assassination of a Sikh separatist leader on Canadian soil in June, relations between Ottawa and New Delhi, two important strategic partners in security and trade, reached their lowest point in years.

After Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed that India was involved in the shooting of a Sikh leader in British Columbia, a spokesperson for India's Ministry of External Affairs responded by saying that Canada is becoming known as a refuge for "terrorists, extremists, and organised crime."

As a result of Trudeau's shocking statement, both nations expelled a diplomat from their respective embassies. India has categorically denied any role in Nijjar's killing.

Arindam Bagchi, a spokesman for the Indian External Affairs Ministry, attributed the suspension of visas—which includes those issued in third countries—to safety concerns.

Other cities with BLS locations include Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, and Brampton, Ontario.

According to the Indian Bureau of Immigration, almost 80,000 Canadian visitors travelled to India in 2021, ranking them as the fourth-largest group.


What impact did the ban have on Canadian visitors to India?

Due to the suspension, Canadians without visas would not be allowed to visit India until services are restored. For people who are organising vacations to India, this has led to uncertainty and delays.

What types of travellers are most affected by this suspension?

The most impacted travellers are those who have upcoming travel plans, such as attending family weddings, as well as those looking for better treatment in India. Later in the year, celebrations like Diwali and weddings are also impacted.

What led to the diplomatic dispute between India and Canada?

When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed that the Indian government was involved in the killing of a Sikh separatist leader on Canadian soil in June, tensions grew. The two countries' ties became tense as a result of these accusations and diplomatic expulsions.


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