Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi found themselves at odds over the murder of a prominent Canadian-Sikh leader in British Columbia. Trudeau has claimed there is credible intelligence suggesting the involvement of Indian government agents in the assassination, while Modi has vehemently denied these allegations.
Consequently, on Thursday, September 21, BLS, India’s visa processing centers in Canada, temporarily suspended their services for operational reasons. This suspension includes centers in Toronto, Ottawa, and Vancouver.
When questioned earlier this week in New York about whether Canada would respond in kind, Trudeau emphasized his commitment to upholding the rule of law in Canada. He affirmed that Canada would continue its efforts to ensure the safety of its citizens.
There is no indication that Canada will cease processing visas for Indian nationals and is still accepting new visa applications as usual.
Processing times for visa applications from Indian nationals seeking to come to Canada remain unchanged. Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) aim to process approximately 80% of applications within established service standards, irrespective of nationality.
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Indian Community in Canada
The Indian community in Canada is substantial, with India being the most significant source country for immigration. In 2022, 118,095 individuals from India successfully obtained permanent residency status in Canada. Among these, 59,503 Indians later became Canadian citizens through the naturalization process.
Canada’s immigration goals are ambitious, as outlined in the 2023-2025 Immigration Levels Plan. The country aims to welcome over 500,000 new permanent residents annually by the end of 2025. While the following plan will be released on November 1 this year, Minister Miller has indicated that he does not foresee any reduction in these immigration targets.
Canada: A Safe Destination
In addition to closing its visa processing centers in Canada, India has issued a travel advisory for Indians traveling to Canada, citing safety concerns.
Speaking with the Canadian Press, Immigration Minister Marc Miller urged Indians concerned about safety to remain calm.
“I think everyone knows Canada is a safe country, and given the events of the last two or three days and the seriousness of the allegations, it’s important for everyone to stay calm.”
Canada consistently ranks among the safest countries in the world. According to the most recent Global Peace Index, Canada came in 11th position for 2023.
Further, a 2022 report by the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) found that international students consistently choose Canada for their education because of its unique reputation for safety and tolerance.
The CBIE found that in 2022, 40% of international students in Canada were Indian. This is despite a similar warning from India’s government in September 2022.
IRCC reports that there were 800,000 international students in Canada in 2022. This means approximately 320,000 Indian students were studying in Canada during the last academic year.