As tensions rise, India suspends visa services for Canadians.
While there hasn’t been a formal announcement, BLS International, the business in charge of managing visa application centers in Canada, informed customers of the suspension via a post on its Canadian website.
In the face of rising diplomatic tensions between India and Canada, the Indian government has banned visa services for Canadian citizens indefinitely.
While no official announcement has been made, BLS International, the company in charge of managing visa application centers in Canada, posted a message on its Canadian website stating, “Important notice from the Indian Mission: Due to operational reasons, with effect from 21st September 2023 [Thursday], Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice.”
An Indian official confirmed the suspension, declining to disclose any information but noting that “the language is clear and it says what it is intended to say.” This is the first time that India has suspended visa services since the Covid-19 outbreak began.
As tensions escalate, India issued an alert on Wednesday advising Indian students and NRIs in Canada to be cautious owing to increased anti-India activities and “politically-condoned hate crimes.” Students from India, in particular, have been cautioned to be cautious.
This visa suspension decision comes as Ottawa announces a temporary reduction in its staff presence in India, citing worries about the safety of its diplomats as a result of threats on social media platforms.
“…Global Affairs Canada [the foreign ministry] is assessing its staff complement in India,” said a representative for Canada’s foreign ministry, confirming that some diplomats had received threats on social media platforms. As a result, and out of caution, we have chosen to temporarily reduce our staff presence in India. To maintain business and operational continuity, all of our locations are manned by diplomats and locally engaged personnel.”
The assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in the parking lot of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia, triggered this escalation. Nijjar was a prominent member of the secessionist organization Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), which has accused India of plotting his assassination.
When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused India of participation in the death of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the schism between the two countries widened. This charge sparked a diplomatic spat, which resulted in the expulsion of senior diplomats from both countries earlier this week.