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India Has Suspended Visa Service for Canadians. Here Are Your Top Questions Answered

India’s visa processing centre in Canada suspended services Thursday as a rift widened between the countries after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said India may have been involved in the killing of a pro-Khalistan activist and president of Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in British Columbia, Hardeep Singh Nijjar. 

So what does that mean for Canadians planning trips to India? Here’s what we know so far:

Who does this affect? 

Canadian citizens who do not have a visa for India or were in the process of applying for one. 

What type of Indian visa can I apply for?

India’s Ministry of External Affairs confirmed the decision to stop all categories of visas, including e-visas, for Canadian Citizens. If you’re a Canadian national wondering whether you can apply for an Indian visa from a third country, like the U.S., you will be subjected to the same suspension of services.  

I’ve already got a plane ticket and I’m heading to the airport. Will my trip be affected?

If you have a valid visa or an Indian passport, you can travel. There is no travel restriction. The announcement is about suspension of visa services in Canada, which means Canadian nationals can’t apply for visas or get them processed until the Government of India resumes visa services. 

NOTE: A visa does not guarantee you admission to a country. It permits one to present themselves at a port of entry to seek admission. 

Should I be worried for my Canadian family member in India right now? Can they return to Canada? 

If a Canadian national in India needs an extension of visa, they won’t be able to receive one. But if they have a visa, they are allowed to stay in India or travel back and forth.

Is traveling to India right now a safety risk for me?

Canada has regional travel advisories for Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Gujrat, and Rajasthan.

India has a travel advisory for Indian nationals and international students in Canada. 

I’m planning to go back in November or December for a wedding. What does this mean for that trip?

A lot of people travel to India during those months, be it for holidays or for weddings. If you have a visa or an Indian passport you can travel.

The Ministry of External Affairs in India says it will “review the situation on a regular basis.” You can find updates on India’s visa processing platform, BLS International. CBC is also closely monitoring the situation. You can find updates on our website or CBC News app. 

Does this mean people in India won’t be able to book trips to Canada?

Indian nationals with a valid visa to Canada are still allowed to travel to Canada. Canada is making staffing changes to its high commission and consulate in India, citing online threats to diplomats. It is too early to say what the situation will look like in the coming months, weeks or even days. 

Will this affect Indians applying for Canadian visas? What about incoming international students? 

So far, Canada has not suspended its visa services in India. 

The Indian government says it’s asked for “parity” in staffing, pointing out that Canada has more diplomatic presence in India than India does in Canada. India has requested Canada’s presence be reduced. 

The High Commission of Canada has said it is temporarily adjusting its staff presence at its commission and consulate locations in India, due to “some diplomats having received threats on various social media platforms.”

In the coming days and weeks, this could mean delays in visa processing, or suspension of visa services. 

Can people who already possess visas still enter the country? 

Those in Canada who possess valid visas to India, or those who have overseas citizenship of India are free to travel to India. .

I am an Indian citizen. Can I travel to India? 

Yes. If you are an Indian national (passport holder), you don’t require any visa to enter India. 

What if I applied for a visa before this announcement? 

Your visa application will not be processed until further notice from the Indian government. 

Do Canadians need a transit visa? 

If you don’t need to leave the airport, you do not need a transit visa in India. However, if your trip requires a stay in India, you require a transit visa. Canadian nationals are unable to obtain a transit visa until the suspension of visa services is lifted. 

How long will this last? 

That’s the million-dollar question. This is an evolving situation. The Indian government has said they are reviewing the situation on a regular basis. 

What if I have tickets booked and don’t have a visa? 

In a statement to CBC News, Air Canada said, “We continue to operate our normal service to India of 19 flights a week. For customers who may be affected by new visa requirements we have put in place a flexible rebooking policy so they can change their flights with no change fee if they need more time to prepare.”

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