2 Oct 2023

Will India-Canada Diplomatic Row Affect Indian Students’ Study Plans?

New Delhi: Ongoing diplomatic tensions between India and Canada have cast a pall of uncertainty over the plans of prospective Indian students. Some of them are delaying the start of their studies. For those already in Canada there are fears of a possible backlash and discrimination.

The Indian Embassy in Canada has suspended visa services for those wanting to travel to India.

Parents of some students in India believe that visa suspension could be a way to express India's displeasure and they hope that the situation of confrontation will not last long. But there are many others who are concerned about their children in Canada as they fear they could face discrimination or bias based on their nationality.

Students fear row could escalate

Students who are planning to move to Canada for higher education fear the row could escalate leading to delay in issuance of visas by the Canadian Embassy. Many of them have invested substantial amounts of money in their study abroad plans.

Indian students are unable to decide what they should do in such circumstances. Their families are worried as many of them have already invested a substantial amount of money. The students and their parents also fear that Canada may stop visa processes for Indians in a retaliatory measure.

2.26 lakh Indian students go to Canada annually 

About 2.26 lakh Indian students go to Canada annually to pursue higher studies in Canada, and the number continues to grow, according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) data.

Canada is the first choice for students from Punjab State in particular, and if diplomatic ties become further strained, this would have a significant impact on applicants from that region.

A student Parvinder Singh in New Delhi, who was planning to join his college in Canada for the session commencing from January 2024, said that he has deferred his admission for the next admission session.


“I had chosen Canada because of high-quality education combined with liberal government policies related to post-study work and immigration,” said Parvinder


Parvinder said Indian students can apply for a post-graduation work permit after completing their education and can stay and work in Canada for up to 3 years and then apply for a Canada Permanent Residency later on.


"For this reason I chose Canada but the growing diplomatic tension between the two countries is not helpful for students like us," added Parvinder, who has completed his graduation this year.

Situation for prospective students remains normal, feel consultants

However, education consultants in India are keen to stress that the situation for prospective students remains normal. 

According to consultants, Canada has demonstrated no inclination to take a stance which will inconvenience Indian student mobility. Any potential delays are likely to be temporary, and students should continue to follow the standard visa application procedures, they said.

Parents anxious

The parents of Indian students who are in Canada are worried that the row could affect their children in Canada and expose them to a security risk.

Jaswinder Saluja, resident of Jalandhar in Punjab, said his son studies in a college in Canada and he is worried that he may feel distracted due to the rising tension between the two countries. 

"The friendly relations between the two countries and a peaceful environment are a sort of assurance that our children will be safe and their needs will be fulfilled," said Jaswinder.

"But now we are feeling insecure and our children in Canada are also anxious as they feel they will have to bear the brunt of strained relations (between India-Canada)," he said.

Visa delays likely

Meanwhile, representatives of Canadian universities, who were in Hyderabad last month for an education fair, have said that the ongoing political row between the two nations could cause visa delays for Indian students and possibly affect the spring academic session due to begin in January. The representatives expressed the possibility of delay in securing study permits and suggested students to plan their academic session for next fall/autumn, which is August 2024.

A representative from an Ontario university said they would keep an eye on the developments and the ground situation and counsel the students accordingly so that they may not have to face any hardship. According to representatives of Canadian universities, despite current concerns, Canada remains the favourite destination for higher studies, and political issues shouldn't have a long-term impact.

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