Even physical applications for Indian visas from Canadian citizens to Indian missions in third countries will not be processed under the suspension of Indian visas for Canadians that the Government of India is enforcing this week. A source clarified to The Hinduthat the suspension of Indian visas for Canadians has a worldwide scope as Indian missions outside Canada will also not accept walk-in paper visa applications from Canadians as part of the process of suspension.
The person with knowledge of the Indian visa process said that this is mainly because Indian visa application like other visa applications will require Canadians to deposit a visa fees with Indian missions in third countries. “We would not like to receive visa fees — which is non-refundable anyway — if we do not plan to process the visa applications,” said the source.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) announced on Thursday that normal functioning of the Indian High Commission in Ottawa and other Indian missions has been affected because of “security threats” that are being faced by Indian diplomats and they are therefore “temporarily unable” to issue visas. That apart the spokesperson of the MEA said, e-visas for Canadians were also within the ambit of the suspension.
But the latest clarification has broadened the scope of the ban as no Canadian will be entertained in any of the Indian missions spread across the world for an Indian visa. This also indicates that though the suspension is being implemented because of apparent “security threats”, it also has bureaucratic and political undercurrents leading to a worldwide implementation through Indian missions. India has one of the largest diplomatic networks in the world covering most of the global map and the visa ban for Canadians will effectively end flow of Canadian passport holders to India for a temporary period. This suspension however does not cover those Canadians who hold OCI cards and valid Indian visas.
The visa crisis is a fallout of the controversy triggered by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Monday statement before the House of Commons in which he accused Indian operatives for being behind the June murder of Khalistan Tiger Force chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, British Columbia. Subsequently, Canadian missions in India have “decided to temporarily adjust staff presence in India” indicating they were cutting down on diplomatic and non-diplomatic staff employed in India. MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi also said India would prefer “parity” in posting of diplomats in each other’s missions indicating that Canada will scale down its diplomatic manpower in India.