On Thursday, September 21, 2023, BLS International, an online visa application center, announced the suspension of India visa services in Canada until further notice. During a press conference today, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) officially confirmed this decision.
The MEA explained that due to the Canadian government’s inaction, India is temporarily halting the issuance of visas, with plans to reassess the situation regularly.
In response to a question from CNBC-TV18, an MEA spokesperson stated that individuals with valid existing Indian visas can still travel to India. However, Jyoti Mayal, President of the Travel Agents Association of India, informed CNBC-TV18 that the Indian High Commission has ceased issuing visas to Canadian nationals. In contrast, the Canadian embassy continues accepting applications and issuing visas to Indian citizens.
BLS International issued a vital notice: “Due to operational reasons, Indian visa services have been suspended until further notice, effective September 21, 2023. Please continue checking the BLS website for updates.” Notably, this message was briefly posted, removed, and then reposted.
The MEA is expected to provide more information on the visa issue during its weekly press briefing in the evening. BLS International attributed the temporary message disappearance to a technical glitch on its website. This notification means that individuals seeking to travel to India from Canada will only have access to visa services until further notice.
It is essential to clarify that platforms like BLS International are intermediaries for visa services and do not issue visas themselves. BLS has also emphasized that it does not handle Canadian visas directly but collaborates with embassies.
As of now, Canada has not indicated any suspension of visas for Indian nationals. A joint statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of External Affairs may be issued later today regarding the status of the visa process.
This development from BLS International comes amid an escalating diplomatic dispute between India and Canada over the killing of a Khalistani separatist leader within Canada. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations of potential involvement of Indian government agents in killing Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June led to a diplomatic rift.
India vehemently rejected these charges as “absurd” and “motivated” and responded by dismissing a senior Canadian diplomat in retaliation for Ottawa’s expulsion of an Indian official.
It’s worth noting that Canada has a significant Indian diaspora, accounting for approximately 3.7 percent of the country’s population according to the 2021 Canadian census, with Sikh Canadians making up about 2 percent.
Additionally, Canada hosts around 800,000 international students, with 40 percent of them being from India, according to data from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada. On September 20, India issued a solid advisory to all its citizens residing in Canada and those planning to travel there. The advisory urged “utmost caution” due to growing anti-India activities and “politically condoned” hate crimes in Canada.
The Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi referred to “threats” against Indian diplomats and segments of the Indian community opposing the “anti-India agenda,” advising Indian nationals to avoid regions and venues in Canada where such incidents have occurred.
Contact us to book a consultation with us!