KOCHI: Tinjo Thomas (name changed), who had moved to Canada from Changanassery around 10 years ago, was hoping to visit his relatives after five long years. However, his plan was upended by the Indian government’s recent decision to suspend visa services to Canadian citizens following the diplomatic spat between the two countries.
Having received Canadian citizenship recently, Tinjo and his wife were awaiting an Indian visa for their trip. Arun Thomas, a nurse settled in Ontario, faces a similar quandary. As the diplomatic stand-off took a turn for the worse, a section that has been hit the most is Indians with Canadian citizenship.
“We were to visit our parents and families in November. We got Canadian citizenship just a month back. We applied for the visa and were waiting for the certificate after surrendering our Indian passports. The tickets cost us 8,000 Canadian dollars. Now we have no idea what to do,” said Tinjo.
The decision of the government will affect people of Indian origin in Canada the most, says Arun. “I am an Indian with Canadian citizenship. I have my parents in India. In case of any emergency, I cannot go home as I don’t have the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) status,’ added Arun, who has been in Canada for seven years.
“Our parents have not seen our two children. So we thought of visiting them in December and celebrating Christmas together after several years. However, the decision of the government has spoiled our plans. There might be many issues between countries. But it is common people who suffer the most due to these issues,” Tinjo added.
The process was made easier for Indians who arrived in Canada on student or permanent residence visas in the last year to receive citizenship. “Indians with Canadian citizenship can apply for OCI status. But processing takes four to eight weeks. Considering our leave and Christmas, we wanted to visit in November-December. So we applied for the visa after surrendering our passports,” he said.
Arun said the government should consider the issues faced by Indians in Canada following the suspension of visa services. “There are many Indians who have their parents and family in India. While taking any such action, the government should also consider the struggles of people like us. It should have made the decision after analysing the consequences,” he added.
According to Denny Thomas, managing director of Santamonica Tours & Travels, around 15,000 Malayalis migrated to Canada in the 2020-22 period. There is much panic over students who have migrated to Canada. However, the situation is peaceful. “The students and people settled in Canada are safe. However, Indians who have Canadian citizenship and do not have an Indian visa or OCI status are in turmoil,” Tinjo said.