India will resume visa services for Canadian citizens, signalling a thaw in the diplomatic tensions that caused their suspension in September. The suspension of visa services was previously attributed to “security threats” impacting Indian missions in Canada. However, it occurred during a heated dispute concerning the killing of a Sikh separatist on Canadian soil.
Ottawa had accused India of involvement in the killing, a claim that New Delhi vehemently denied. Indian officials announced the decision to resume issuing some visas after reviewing security conditions at their missions and in light of unspecified recent measures taken by Canada.
The statement also noted that “further decisions, as appropriate, would be intimated based on the continuing evaluation of the situation.” Visa services are expected to restart on Thursday and will include entry visas as well as business, medical, and conference visas.
Entry visas, as per the Consulate General of India in Toronto, are designated for “persons of Indian origin,” their spouses and children, and the immediate family members of Indian citizens. However, it remains unclear whether the resumption of services will extend to Canadian tourists, who typically require a specific tourist visa.
Diplomatic relations between India and Canada had reached a historic low point when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada was investigating credible allegations of India’s involvement in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh separatist leader shot and killed in Surrey, British Columbia, in June. The killing was characterised by the police as a “targeted killing,” but no suspects had been identified at the time.
Trudeau urged India to cooperate with the ongoing murder investigation, emphasising that Canada did not seek to escalate tensions with India. In response to the diplomatic discord, Canada withdrew dozens of its diplomats from India after India threatened to strip them of diplomatic immunity. India had asserted that Canada had a significantly larger number of diplomats in Delhi compared to Indian diplomats in Ottawa and demanded parity between the two countries in diplomatic staffing. However, information from the Global Affairs website suggested that the number of Indian diplomats in Ottawa was roughly equivalent to the number of Canadian diplomats in Delhi.