India Has Suspended Visa Services For Canada & Here's What Citizens Need To Know

The move comes amid a widening rift between India and Canada.

India's flag at an Indian Embassy. Right: A person holds a Canadian passport.

India's flag at an Indian Embassy. Right: A person holds a Canadian passport.

Getting an Indian visa just became impossible for Canadian citizens amid a widening rift between the two countries.

On Thursday, India suspended all visa services for Canadians after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said India may have been involved in the killing of a Canadian citizen.

Trudeau said this week that there were "credible allegations" of Indian involvement in the assassination of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who had been wanted by India for years and was killed outside the temple he led in Surrey, B.C., in June, the Associated Press reports.

India has denied the allegations , but the move has set off a "tit for tat" between the two countries.

Now, Canadian citizens planning to travel to the country may find it difficult or even impossible. While there are some countries that Canadians don't need a visa to travel to , for travel to India , residents must obtain a visa prior to their flight.

BLS India , the agency that processes visa requests for India from Canada, has said on its website that "due to operational reasons, with effect from 21 September 2023, Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice."

The suspension means that Canadian citizens who don't already have a visa will not be able to travel to India until the services resume.

Arindam Bagchi, a spokesperson for India's Ministry of External Affairs, clarified in a media briefing on Thursday that this measure will also apply to e-Visa services and to Canadian citizens in other countries.

However, he said that those who already have valid visas or other documents allowing them to travel to India, such as an Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) card, remain free to travel to the country.

"We are aware of the security threats being faced by our high commission and consulates in Canada. This has disrupted their normal functioning. Accordingly, our high commissions and consulates are temporarily unable to process visa applications. We will be reviewing the situation on a regular basis," he said in the briefing.

The move comes one day after India warned citizens to exercise caution when travelling to Canada "in view of growing anti-India activities and politically-condoned hate crimes."

"Recently, threats have particularly targeted Indian diplomats and sections of the Indian community who oppose the anti-India agenda," reads a travel advisory from the Government of India .

"Indian nationals are therefore advised to avoid travelling to regions and potential venues in Canada that have seen such incidents."

In addition to this, calls have been made by Indians on social media to boycott Canadian brands like Tim Hortons and McCain, the National Post reports .

For its part, Canada's travel advisory for India warns Canadians to exercise a high degree of caution in the country "due to the threat of terrorist attacks," but does not mention the recent conflict.

At the time of writing, flights from Canada to India were scheduled as normal with Air Canada (the only airline besides Air India to offer direct flights between the two countries).

According to the AP , Canada is home to almost 1.4 million people of Indian ethnic or cultural origin, which is about 3.7% of the country’s population.

Just last year, Canada and India introduced a transportation agreement that allowed for unlimited flights between the two countries, up from the previous 35 flights per week, saying at the time that the move would facilitate "even more exchanges of professionals, students, business people, and investors."

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Katherine Caspersz
Katherine Caspersz is a Creator for Narcity Media focused on evergreen travel and things to do, and is based in the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario.