Canadians forced to cancel India trips due to visa backlogs

by The Canadian Parvasi

Canadians applying for an Indian visa have been calling for the return of the electronic visa program, which allowed applicants to obtain their visas online, as well as for more staffing at the visa application centres to address the backlog.

Despite the Indian Consulate’s set time of 30 days, some applicants have been waiting for as long as two months to obtain their visas.

Speaking to media outlets, Arminder Bajwa, an Indian visa applicant, expressed, “I’ve spent like $8,000 on tickets. For my sister’s marriage … that’s my sister, and I have to be there because that’s like a tradition.”

“That situation, inflation and everything … $8,000, ” he emphasised.

Bajwa also expressed dismay at the fact that the International Visa Application Centre had the passports for all four of his members for 17 days, and were yet to issue the visas.

The electronic visa program, which was previously operational, was shut down amid travel restrictions during the pandemic. Prior to the shutdown, the process of obtaining the visa could be done entirely virtually.

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While the Indian Ministry of External Affairs reinstated the program in 156 countries, it is yet to do so in Canada, despite the heavy concentration of the Indian diaspora in the nation.

While the Indian High Commission has acknowledged the spike in visa applications, Sanjay Kumar Verma, The Indian high commissioner-designate has denied backlog-related delays in the visa process.

“If I look at Ottawa … October 2022 visa submissions as compared to October 2021, submissions have increased by 605 per cent,” stated Verma, speaking to news outlets.

Toronto and Vancouver have also seen 188 and 203 per cent increases in submissions respectively, according to Verma.

When asked about the visa offices, Verma stated that the people waiting outside were walk-ins without appointments.

“As far as we are concerned, we are processing the visa applications and granting the eligible applicants’ visas much, much faster than people otherwise realize. There are discussions. There are considerations. There are movements in that direction. When it is finally decided by the two governments, then, of course, we’ll hear the outcome. “asserted Verma.

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