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BLS International, an online visa application centre, on September 21, Thursday said Indian Mission has suspended India visa services in Canada till further notice.
“Important notice from Indian Mission: Due to operational reasons, with effect from 21 September 2023, Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice. Please keep checking the BLS website for further updates,” the visa consultancy services firm said in a notification on its website.
This essentially means people wanting to come to India from Canada will not be able to avail visa services until further notice.
It must be noted that platforms like BLS International only facilitate visa services, and not provide visas. BLS has also clarified that it does not provide Canadian visas and that it directly works with embassies.
BLS International’s notice comes against the backdrop of escalating diplomatic row between the Indian and Canada over the killing of a Khalistani separatist leader in this country.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations of “potential” involvement of Indian government agents in the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June unleashed a diplomatic row with India rejecting the charges as “absurd” and “motivated”.
India also dismissed a senior Canadian diplomat in a comeback move to Ottawa’s expulsion of an Indian official.
It must be noted that Canada is home to a large Indian diaspora. According to Canada census in 2021, people of Indian origin account for around 3.7 percent of the country’s population. Sikh-Canadians are about 2 percent.
There are about 800,000 international students in Canada, out of which 40 percent are from India, as per Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada data.
On September 20, India all its citizens living in Canada and those contemplating travelling there to exercise “utmost caution” in view of growing anti-India activities and “politically-condoned” hate crimes in the North American country.
In a strongly-worded advisory, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi referred to “threats” targeting Indian diplomats and sections of the Indian community that oppose the “anti-India agenda”, and asked Indian nationals to avoid travelling to regions and potential venues in Canada which have seen such incidents.