In the wake of the recent deterioration in Indo-Canadian relations, fear and anxiety have gripped study abroad aspirants, educational consultants dealing with Canada, and applicants for Canadian permanent residency.
The situation declined after Canada on Monday Expulsion of a high-ranking Indian diplomatThis followed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement in the Canadian Parliament indicating the Indian government’s “possible link” to the killing of Khalistani separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nigar in June. Carpenter was fatally shot outside a gurudwara in Surrey, British Columbia.
The two governments are now grappling with strained relations, despite Canada’s large Punjabi and student population in India, and Canadian educational institutions relying heavily on international students, 40% of whom come from India.
The escalating diplomatic tension has cast a shadow over those who wish to study and settle in Canada
“I passed my IELTS (International English Language Testing System) exam just last month, and now I am looking at different universities in Canada, as my ultimate dream is to settle there after my studies. However, I am afraid that the Canadian Embassy may prevent me from getting Student visa,” said Vikramjit Singh Arora, a student from Jalandhar.
Meanwhile, Ashnoor Kaur, another student, says her advisor told her that her “study abroad” opportunities would not be affected, as neither Canada nor India would want to stop the process. “I spoke to my advisor, who is helping me get admission in a Canadian college, and he assured me there is no need to worry,” Kaur said.
Narpat Babbar, education consultant and owner of Jupiter Academy in Jalandhar, is optimistic and says the impact will be short-lived. “It is a temporary phase. Students contribute 30 per cent of their (Canada’s) annual budget. Things will likely return to normal within a couple of months. The country needs more students and may adjust admission criteria at the embassy level,” Babar said.
However, another advisor, Gurpreet Singh, who has a decade of experience in the field, expressed concerns about the ripple effect this situation may have on international students. “Every year, 40 per cent of international students who immigrate to Canada are from India. Canada cannot afford to ignore such a large source of income. Now, we have to see how both countries handle the entry of travelers at their borders,” Singh said. “Some students bear the brunt of this development.”
Study abroad veteran Chitrish Dhawan said it was too early to make definitive statements. “Things are likely to become clearer in the coming days,” Dhawan said.
Some advisors noted that those who promote countries other than Canada for study may use this situation to discredit Canada, and make unsubstantiated claims about its impact on study abroad. Concerns have been raised that entry into both countries could become more difficult for students.
“Canada may consider capping the number of students from India in response to this development, although this is unlikely. However, the number of Indian students in Canada is likely to remain large.”
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Meanwhile, a couple from Jalandhar, who had applied for Canadian permanent residency and were expecting to do so by the end of this year, expressed their concern.
“We were eagerly awaiting our PR status by the end of this year, but now we fear it will be delayed. Even if relations improve, it is possible that there will be a delay of a few months.”
Another PR aspirant in Jalandhar is also keeping his fingers crossed. “Most of my family members are settled in Canada, and they are eagerly waiting for me to join them as I am expected to do PR at any moment. India and Canada must act wisely, as these political decisions could affect our future.”