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Diplomatic tensions between India and Canada : The impact on Canadian employers, potential foreign workers and international students

Following the announcement on October 19th that the Indian government had the intention of removing immunities for all but twenty-one (21) diplomats posted in India, the Canadian government announced last Friday its decision to recall its employees and limit the number of people working in its visa offices in India to five (5)[1].  

Officials from Global Affairs Canada as well as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) released a statement confirming that they will continue to respect the privileges of Indian diplomats in Canada and that they are committed to providing core services to the public such as processing applications and offering consulate services. However, with only a third of the personnel available on the ground, candidates and their potential employers can expect delays over the next few months.

This includes delays in: 

  • overall processing times;
  • responses to their enquiries; and
  • getting passports returned after visa counterfoil stamping.

The government has instructed Canadian staff posted in New Delhi to focus on addressing urgent cases that require in-person or in-country presence. Although IRCC has not offered a precise definition of what constitutes an “urgent” case, it did offer certain examples (i.e., processing of a visa for an individual to attend a funeral) and indicated that it will be evaluating and sorting through all instances of urgencies to determine how to move forward in its processing. With respect to prospective international students wishing to start studying in Canada as of January 2024, officials specified that they should submit their applications as early as possible because their cases risk not being classified as emergencies warranting priority treatment.

Although there will be a brief transitional period, Canadian employers, potential foreign workers as well as international students should continue to submit their immigration applications as the processing of applications will be delegated and redistributed across the global network. Furthermore, since 89% of cases from India were already being processed outside the country, the removal of visa processing staff from India should not have a major impact on processing times, according to IRCC officials. Canadian employers can therefore continue to recruit Indian nationals and those individuals may continue to submit immigration applications at visa offices in India.

Moving forward, one of the subjects that can be considered in the light of this situation is the possibility for IRCC to eventually transition towards the issuance of electronic visas. Although the Canadian government has made no announcement to this effect, we note that more and more countries are moving towards an electronic visa issuance system, in an effort to streamline and accelerate immigration processing procedures.

For more information or updates on the current situation and its potential impact on your immigration procedures, please do not hesitate to contact a member of MT❯iplus, a division of McCarthy Tetrault.


[1] “Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to reduce staff in India”