A month after suspension, India resumes visas for Canadians in some categories

Tourism and e-visa services have not yet resumed; the move comes days after Canadian diplomats left in accordance with New Delhi’s demand

Updated - October 25, 2023 10:32 pm IST

Published - October 25, 2023 10:09 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The front gate of High Commission of India is pictured on October 3, 2023 in Ottawa, Canada.

The front gate of High Commission of India is pictured on October 3, 2023 in Ottawa, Canada. | Photo Credit: AFP

India on October 25 resumed visa services in certain categories for Canadian citizens, nearly a month after they were suspended in the aftermath of Canada’s allegations of Indian involvement in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, and a week after 41 Canadian diplomats left India, in accordance with New Delhi’s demand. While tourist visas and e-visas are still held in abeyance, the Indian High Commission in Canada announced that it would begin accepting applications for visas for entry, business, medical, and conference purposes from Thursday. Officials said that applications from Canadians in these categories would be accepted at Indian missions in other countries as well, which had also been suspended in the decision of September 21.

“After a considered review of the security situation that takes into account some recent Canadian measures in this regard, it has been decided to resume visa services for [certain] categories,” a press release issued by the Indian High Commission in Ottawa said. 

 The release added that emergency situations would continue to be addressed by the mission and any further decisions would be intimated “based on continuing evaluation of the situation”, indicating that a call on resuming tourist visas and e-visas, the most common way for visitors to apply, had not yet been taken.

The move to suspend visas has affected thousands of Canadians hoping to travel to India, including those with families in India wishing to return for the festive season, as well as medical cases needing treatment in India.

Following the expulsion of its diplomats from the High Commission in Delhi, Canada too had suspended “in-person” visa services at its consulates in other cities, and it is unclear if these will be resumed after the resumption of visas by India.

On October 22, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had hinted that the resumption of visas for Canadians would be done “very soon”, as India had been concerned about the security of diplomats given threats from separatist Khalistani groups in recent weeks, and called this a “difficult phase” in ties. Officials of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) officials did not comment on the reason for the reversal of their decision, but it is understood that after India raised heightened concerns, especially after posters and videos by the groups directly named diplomats at the Indian High Commission and Consulates in Toronto and Vancouver, the Canadian government increased the security presence around the missions and to the diplomats concerned.

The diplomatic spat between the two countries went public after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told his Parliament on September 18 that there were “credible allegations” Indian government agents were responsible for the killing of Nijjar in Surrey in June this year, a charge India has denied. In response, India suspended visas for Canadians and demanded that 41 Canadian diplomats based in Delhi, about two-thirds of the mission’s strength, leave India or face a revocation of their diplomatic immunity in order to maintain “parity” with Indian missions.

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