COLLATERAL DAMAGE

India Stops Processing Travel Visas for Canadians as Diplomatic Tensions Escalate

Travel  is the latest escalation of diplomatic tensions between Canada and India, with the suspension of visa processing services for Canadians wishing to travel to India.

According to CBC reports, India's visa processing centre in Canada suspended services 21SEP. The BLS Indian Visa Application Center in Canada has locations across Canada, including Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Winnipeg. It processes applications for tourist, student and employment visas to India.

A statement by the agency reads, "Important notice from Indian Mission: Due to operational reasons, with effect from 21 Sept. Indian visa services have been suspended [until] further notice."

The suspension of services could affect thousands of Canadians. According to CBC, 80,000 Canadian tourists visited India in 2021. Canadians represent the fourth-largest group of tourists to the country, according to Indian government statistics. That's not to mention the number of Canadians with family in India, whose visits may now be on the line until the diplomatic row between the two countries subsides.

A spokesperson for India's ministry of External Affairs claims its staff in Canada have been the target of unspecified security threats, which has "disrupted their normal functioning," citing that as the reason that "our high commission and consulates are temporarily unable to process visa applications."

Matters have escalated quickly since Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau publicly stated Monday, 18SEP, that Canada believes the Indian government may have been involved in the fatal shooting of a Canadian Sikh separatist leader in JUN.

Almost immediately, India issued a travel advisory for its citizens about going to Canada, citing "threats" targeting the Indian community.

Both sides subsequently expelled diplomats in the days following, and in India, the High Commission of Canada is adjusting its staffing and operations due to "some diplomats having received threats on various social media platforms."

No word yet about any airlines operating routes between Canada and India modifying schedules as entry visas - at least temporarily - dry up.

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