India suspends visa services in Canada till further notice

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India suspends visa services in Canada till further notice

New Delhi: India escalated its diplomatic standoff with Canada by suspending its visa services from its missions in Ottawa, Vancouver and Toronto till further notice.

BLS India Visa Application Centre quoting ‘Indian mission notice’ made the announcement. BLS provides Indian visa services in Canada. In December last year, India restored the e-visa facility for Canadian passport holders. Till then, applicants had to make in-person applications due to the strained ties between the two countries even then.

The suspension of the visa service comes amidst a review of OCI cards being carried out by the Union Home Ministry and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

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On Wednesday, India had issued a fresh strongly-worded travel advisory asking all Indians in Canada and those contemplating travel there, especially Indian students, “to exercise utmost caution in view of growing anti-India activities and politically-condoned hate crimes and criminal violence”.

The Canadian government has rejected a travel advisory issued by India about security risks in Canada, saying it is one of the safest countries in the world, and called for calm amid the escalating diplomatic row between the two nations over the killing of a Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada.

“Recently, threats have particularly targeted Indian diplomats and sections of the Indian community who oppose the anti-India agenda. Indian nationals are, therefore, advised to avoid travelling to regions and potential venues in Canada that have seen such incidents,” the MEA had said.

It was retaliating to a revised travel advisory from Canada that asked its citizens to exercise caution in travelling to Manipur and to take precautions from natural disasters. The fresh advisory also retained the earlier exhortation not to go to the north-east and UT of J&K. It, however, deemed the UT of Ladakh as safe for travel by Canadians.

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