The ongoing diplomatic tension between Canada and India is set to slow down visa processing for Indians intending to travel to Canada.

Canada’s Immigration Minister confirmed this in a recent press conference held in Ottawa on October 19. The deceleration in processing is due to India’s appeal for Canada to cut down its diplomat count in India.

Mélanie Joly, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, mentioned that 41 Canadian diplomats have departed from India, leaving only 21 behind.

This strain between the nations escalated following an accusation by Canada’s Prime Minister on September 18, claiming that India was involved in the demise of a notable Sikh activist in Canada named Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is scaling down its personnel in India, moving from a team of 27 to merely 5, as per an official IRCC release.

While ensuring that all visa applications from India will still be processed, the Minister acknowledged that the reduced staffing might lead to short-term processing delays. To minimize the impact, the Visa Application Centres (VACs), which handle most applications from India, will adjust their work processes. Some tasks might be shifted to email communication.

Miller highlighted that there might be a lag in processing, increased response times to queries, and potential delays in visa stamping due to the situation.

Although VACs, managed by external entities, will function normally, applicants can continue to avail services like passport transmission, biometric submission, and administrative support at any of the ten IRCC centres in India.

The importance of Indian immigrants to Canada was emphasized by Miller, stating they play a significant role in the country. While Canada’s educational institutions remain open to Indian students, the processing might be slower than usual.

Interestingly, the majority (89%) of visa applications from India are processed outside of India. The few IRCC staff left in India will cater to essential in-country tasks such as urgent visa issuance, risk evaluations, and partner oversight.

This comes at a time when India is a major contributor to Canada’s immigrant population. In 2022, 118,000 Indians achieved Canadian permanent resident status, making up 27% of Canada’s 437,000 new permanent residents. Moreover, Canada welcomed 226,000 Indian students, which is 41% of the 551,000 international students they admitted. In the same year, nearly 60,000 Indians were granted Canadian citizenship.

Canada’s diverse immigration options cater well to Indians, particularly due to their English fluency and commendable educational and professional backgrounds. Many opt for studying in Canada initially before pursuing permanent residency. The Student Direct Stream (SDS), a swift study permit route, is a favorite among Indians, with over 95% of SDS applications coming from India.