Posted Jan 2023

Doing everything to ensure Indian student visas are processed on time, says Canadian High Commissioner

The Canadian government is working hard to ensure that Indian students who are set to go to the country for their education this year get their visas on time. It is also investing more money and adding resources to clear the massive backlog of visa applications at the earliest, a top Canadian government official said.

Speaking to The Hindu, Cameron MacKay, High Commissioner for Canada in India said: “It is the case unfortunately that we have a post-Covid pandemic backlog of visas in every category of visa. It is a very serious backlog. The government is dedicated to getting through that backlog as quickly as possible. We are investing more money and more people to get through it. Particularly this summer, we are making every effort to ensure that every young Indian planning to study in Canada will get their student visas on time. We are doing everything we can to achieve that”.

Mr. MacKay said Indians are at the top of every visa category to Canada—student, temporary residence, permanent residence, tourists.

He said Canada was renegotiating its air services agreement with India and hoped to have more direct flights soon. Currently, there are 25 direct flights between India and Canada every week, he said.

The High Commissioner said India and Canada had a $100 billion commercial relationship led by $70 billion in terms of Canadian portfolio investment and prominent private sector investors who were heavily invested in infrastructure, hotel chains and renewable energy in India.

“Two G-20 countries [India and Canada] with the size of our economies should have a larger economic relationship. It is an underperforming relationship and we would like to change that through a trade and investment treaty,” he said.

Mr. MacKay said there were barriers to Canadian businesses doing business in India. “Those are exactly the issues we are trying to address in the agreement...negotiations on tariffs and non-tariff barriers, investment and investment protection, trade and services etc. There are lots of opportunities to open up the economy on both sides,” he said.

On the political relationship between the two countries, the diplomat said the relationship was now very strong. He pointed out that the trade ministers of the two countries met in March this year and that they were speaking on the phone every month to push forward the trade and investment negotiations while recalling the meetings of the foreign ministers in Kigali and the Prime Ministers of both the countries at the G7 summit in Germany.

To a question on the India-China border issue, Mr. MacKay said the Canadian government’s position was that all countries must respect international law and the principles of the U.N. Charter including sovereignty and territorial integrity. On the issue of Khalistan supporters in Canada, he said “ the Canadian government supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India”.

According to the High Commissioner, Canada and India have a $100 billion trade relationship, with Canadian portfolio investments accounting for $70 billion of that total. Other significant private sector investors have made significant investments in India's infrastructure, hotel chains, and renewable energy sources. 

"India and Canada, two G-20 nations with comparable economic sizes, ought to develop more extensive trade ties. We want to use a trade and investment treaty to improve the relationship since it is underperforming, he said.

There are obstacles, according to Mr. MacKay, for Canadian companies doing business in India. The debates on tariffs and non-tariff barriers, investment and investment protection, trade and services, etc. are precisely the concerns we are attempting to solve in the agreement.

On both sides, there are numerous potential to expand the economy, he remarked.

The envoy stated that there was now a very strong political bond between the two nations. While recalling the meetings of the foreign ministers in Kigali and the prime ministers of both countries at the G7 summit in Germany, he noted that the trade ministers of the two countries had met in March of this year and that they were continuing to advance the trade and investment negotiations by speaking on the phone once a month.

In response to a question regarding the border dispute between China and India, Mr. MacKay stated that the Canadian government held the view that all nations should uphold international law and U.N. Charter principles, such as sovereignty and territorial integrity.

He stated, "The Canadian government encourages the integrity and sovereignty of India" in response to the question of Khalistan supporters in Canada.

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