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Canada says it expects to process only half of Indian visa applications by Dec 2023

Toronto : Canada has said that out of the 38,000 visas for Indians, it will only be able to process 20,000 by the end of December this year due to recent reduction of staff on the ground.

At a meeting of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration this week, Immigration Minister Marc Miller said there are now only five members to do the on-the-ground visa work in India, the CIC News reported.

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) which processes the visa applications, had its staff reduced from 27 to just five members this month after India, seeking diplomatic parity, asked Canada to withdraw its 41 diplomats.

The IRCC now expects there will be approximately 17,500 Indian applications in backlog at the beginning of 2024. However, signalling hope, senior officials with the country’s top Immigration Department said that the government is working to return to normal processing for Indian applications by early 2024.

This can be achieved as the immigration staff pulled from India reestablishes itself and gets back to work in Canada and the Philippines, IRCC said.

According to CIC, IRCC is trying to mitigate the impact by adjusting the work load for Visa Application Centres (VACs) that already process the majority of the applications from India. IRCC said in a statement released last week that a large majority of applications from India are already processed outside the country, with 89 per cent of India’s applications processed through the global network.

“The five Canada-based IRCC staff who remain in India will focus on work that requires an in-country presence such as urgent processing, visa printing, risk assessment, and overseeing key partners,” the IRCC said.

The department aims to process 80 per cent of all applications within service standards, which vary depending on the type of application. An application is in backlog when it has not been processed within service standards.

IRCC has also temporarily suspended all in-person services at consulates in India, although applications from India will still be accepted and processed.

India, meanwhile, partially resumed visa services in Canada from October 26 onwards after they were shut down amid deteriorating diplomatic ties. The services will resume for entry, business, medical, and conference visas, the Indian High Commission said in a statement. “Further decisions, as appropriate, would be intimated based on continuing evaluation of the situation,” the statement added.

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