India Suspends Visa Services for Canadians, Upending Travel Plans in Diplomatic Rift


Updated: 4:29 AM, Fri September 22, 2023

India Suspends Visa Services for Canadians, Upending Travel Plans in Diplomatic Rift

The Indian government’s suspension of visa services for Canadian citizens has caused great distress among the Indo-Canadian community. This unexpected move has disrupted the travel plans of those who were looking forward to visiting India, leaving them caught in the middle of a diplomatic dispute.

The visa application centre in Canada announced the immediate halt on Thursday, further widening the rift between the two countries. This escalation comes after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested that India may have been involved in the killing of a Canadian citizen.

For individuals like Sukhwinder Dhillon, who had plans to visit his birthplace in Punjab state to sort out his deceased father’s estate and reunite with family, the visa suspension has put everything on hold. Dhillon, a grocery store owner who immigrated to Canada in 1998, usually visits India every few years. He now hopes that the halt will be short-lived, as uncertainty looms over when he will be able to make the trip.

The strained relationship between Canada and India escalated rapidly earlier this week when Trudeau brought forward credible allegations of Indian involvement in the assassination of a Sikh independence activist. This accusation led to the expulsion of an Indian diplomat from Ottawa and a reciprocal expulsion from New Delhi.

The suspension of visa services is a major setback for the approximately 80,000 Canadian tourists who visit India annually. It is equally challenging for the 1.4 million residents of Indian descent who call Canada home, including the 772,000 Sikhs, the largest Sikh population outside of India.

Mohinder Singh, an insurance broker who moved to Canada ten years ago, believes that any reprisal from the Indian government is a necessary cost for calling out alleged wrongdoing. Singh has relatives in India and a deep emotional connection to his homeland. Although he had been planning a vacation in India, he is willing to postpone it in the interest of a greater cause.

Confirming the suspension of visa services, the Indian External Affairs Ministry cited security threats to its high commission and consulates in Canada as the reason for the disruption. In a bid for diplomatic parity, India has called for a reduction in the number of Canadian diplomats in India to match India’s staffing levels in Canada.

The Canadian High Commission in New Delhi assured that all its consulates in India are open and operating normally, providing assistance to clients. However, it mentioned that some of its diplomats have received threats on social media, prompting a review of the staff complement in India. Canada expects India to ensure the security of its diplomats and consular officers.

As tensions mount between the two countries, businesses are concerned about the fallout from the diplomatic row. Shaker Ahmed Choudhury, who manages a travel agency in Montreal, expressed disappointment over the visa processing suspension, recognizing the setback it poses for the large Indo-Canadian population and the potential impact on the market.

While the number of flights between Canada and India is relatively small, the growing number of immigrants and international students make it an important market for various industries, including airlines and agricultural exporters.

India has emerged as the leading source of immigration to Canada, with approximately 27 percent of the country’s new permanent residents in 2022 originating from there. This further underscores the significance of maintaining diplomatic stability and ensuring the smooth functioning of visa services.

The temporary suspension of visa services for Canadians in India has created uncertainty for individuals with travel plans, added strain to bilateral relations, and raised concerns among businesses. As diplomats work to resolve the issues, many are hoping for a swift resolution that will allow travel and normalcy to resume between the two nations.

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Riya Patel
Riya Patel
Riya Patel is a dedicated author at The Reportify covering the vast landscape of world news. With a commitment to providing comprehensive coverage, Riya brings you the latest updates, global events, and impactful stories in the World News category. She can be reached at for any inquiries or further information.

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